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Judge frees Hubbard data from custody

Title: Judge frees Hubbard data from custody
Date: Saturday, 4 May 1985
Publisher: The Oregonian (Portland)
Author: Fred Leeson
Main source: link (117 KiB)

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Records of L. Ron Hubbard's World War II military service and medical treatment were released from court custody Friday by a Portland judge who decided they have become relevant to a fraud trial against the Church of Scientology.

Circuit Judge Donald H. Londer ruled that defense testimony offered this week by the church would make the private records relevant to the claim by a Portland woman that the church and its founder, Hubbard, defrauded her in 1975.

Londer reviewed several hundred pages of records in private at the start of the trial and refused to turn them over to attorney for the plaintiff, Julie Christofferson Titchbourne.

The judge said he left the documents under seal at the start of the case to protect Hubbard's right to privacy and because he was not convinced of their relevance to Titchbourne's claim. But he changed his mind after testimony offered by a defense witness Thursday about Hubbard being paralyzed and blind as a result of war injuries made the records relevant.

The contents of the records will not be revealed until after the defense ends its case, which is expected to take two or three more weeks. Titchbourne's attorneys have contended that Hubbard did not serve in combat and that he was never seriously injured. Defense lawyers have argued strongly against allowing the plaintiff to see and use the records.

Hubbard, who is listed as a defendant in the case but who has not been seen in public since 1980, has written in church materials that he was crippled and blinded as a result of war injuries. He also has claimed he cured himself by using Scientology technique he developed.

Londer's ruling followed testimony on Thursday from William L. Landers, a Scientologist from whom Titchbourne purchased her first Scientology course. Landers said he believed at the time and still believed that Hubbard was "severely injured" in the war and cured himself.

In Friday's testimony, a second Scientology salesman who sold courses to Titchbourne said he pointed out to her several references in Scientology books to Scientology being a religion.

The former salesman, Dr. Laird Caruthers, now a family practice physician in Ogden, Utah, said he might have told Titchbourne in 1975 that studying Scientology would give her more knowledge of the mind than any psychiatrist or psychologist.

"I could have said that, and I do believe it," Caruthers said. He also said he believed Scientology courses can improve a person's intelligence, another representation that Titchbourne said was made to her.

Titchbourne testified early in the trial that she thought Scientology was a science and that she was told it would help cure her poor eyesight. Caruthers testified that he might have told her Scientology was an exact science, but he said he wouldn't have mentioned a cure for eyesight.

Caruthers, who wears glasses, said, "It has not changed my nearsightedness."

Caruthers also admitted that he asked for $7,000 from the church to testify in the first trial of the Titchbourne case in 1979, but he said he returned all but $2,000 of that money, except for his travel expenses to and from Arkansas. He said his brother, a California attorney, kept $2,000 for giving Caruthers advice on the matter.

He acknowledged that all $7,000 was sent to his brother's law office. "I don't understand why that happened. That was purely on my brother's instruction," Caruthers said.

Rosalyn Paul, a retired school teacher, also testified Friday that she has been practicing Scientology for 30 years. She said it is her religion and that it has helped improve life.

Over the years she said she and her husband and daughter have spent about $40,000 on Scientology courses. "I've gotten full benefit from it," she said. "I've never regretted it."

In response to plaintiff's witnesses who said they gained little or no value from Scientology, the defense has said it will call several more witnesses to attest to Scientology's value as a religion. The church has raised freedom of religion as a defense to Titchbourne's fraud claim.

Titchbourne won more than $2 million against the church in 1979, but that judgment was overturned by the Oregon Court of Appeals, which ordered the new trial.