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Scientologist answers questions to avoid sentence for contempt

Title: Scientologist answers questions to avoid sentence for contempt
Date: Saturday, 31 May 1980
Publisher: Clearwater Times (Florida)
Author: Craig Roberton
Main source:

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CLEARWATER — Church of Scientology guardian Douglass Sadwick avoided a second possible jail sentence for contempt Friday by agreeing to cooperate in a criminal investigation of activities of church members.

Only moments before Sadwick was scheduled to face a contempt-of-court hearing, Sadwick's attorney, William Plowman, told Circuit Judge John S. Andrews that his client was willing to talk, despite his contention that the questions violate Sadwick's constitutional rights.

Prosecutors had asked Andrews to find Sadwick in civil contempt for refusing to answer 11 questions on May 12 — despite a guarantee of immunity — after being subpoenaed in connection with the investigation.

PLOWMAN OFFERED a curt "no comment" when asked why his client had had an apparent change of heart. Sadwick also refused to comment.

After prosecutors questioned Sadwick for more than an hour, Assistant State Attorney Lee Fugate told Andrews that the Scientologist had answered all the questions he had refused to answer on May 12. Andrews then canceled the contempt hearing.

A transcript of the May 12 questioning of Sadwick shows that Sadwick cited a variety of constitutional grounds for refusing to answer certain questions, among them a "priest-penitent privilege."

Sadwick is an ordained minister in the Church of Scientology. He is also head of the Clearwater church's information bureau, believed by prosecutors to be responsible for plotting campaigns to harass and discredit local critics.

Some of the questions Sadwick refused to answer were: "What files are you familiar with?" "Who directed you to come to Pinellas County?" "Who did you replace?" "How long have you been in the guardians office?"

PROSECUTORS ALSO sought information on two men, identified as John Bittner and Charles "Chuck" Nelson. Prosecutors said the two men operated front business in the area to undertake telephone harassment on behalf of the information bureau.

The transcript shows that prosecutors' tempers were getting short because of Sadwick's refusal to cooperate. "What we are doing is playing games," one prosecutor said. "That is obstructionist, and I know you know that very well. I know the policy of the Church of Scientology, and I am about to lose complete patience . . . "

Sadwick is familiar with contempt proceedings. On May 11, Andrews sentenced him to 90 days in jail for refusing another set of questions in an earlier interrogation. He is free while appealing that sentence.