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San Diego paper sued for $10,000 // Church of Scientology members seek to stop articles not yet published

Title: San Diego paper sued for $10,000 // Church of Scientology members seek to stop articles not yet published
Date: Friday, 12 August 1977
Publisher: Los Angeles Times (California)
Main source:

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SAN DIEGO — Two Church of Scientology members Thursday sued the San Diego Union for more than $10,000, alleging two articles that have not yet been published were an invasion of privacy.

Union Acting Editor Peter Kaye described the lawsuit as "harassment aimed at preventing the paper from printing the stories."

He said church leaders had offered to try to stop the lawsuit if the newspaper would kill the articles.

The civil suit was filed in San Diego Superior Court by Jim Lynch and Jonathan Hartzell, Church of Scientology members and candidates for the ministry. The two men claimed Union reporter Leigh Fenly invaded their privacy when all three enrolled in seminars for "religious betterment."

Ms. Fenly, they claimed, attended the seminar for a professional rather than religious objective, and obtained information for her stories "through misrepresentation and deceit."

Kaye said Ms. Fenley had identified herself before interviewing church officials, including the Rev. Jim Thompson, minister of public affairs.

Kaye said he was visited Wednesday by Thompson and the Rev. John Spagnola, described as national public affairs representative of the church, who said they would try to dissuade Lynch and Hartzell from filing the suit if Kaye would sign an agreement stating the series would not be published.

Kaye ordered them out of his office.

He said the stories would run Sunday.

Defendants include Copley Press, which publishes the Union; Publisher Helen K. Copley; Editor Gerald Warren, and Ms. Fenley.

Hartzell is program director of FM radio station KYXY, and Lynch is an announcer at FM radio station KOZN.

Thompson denied that the lawsuit and the visit to Kaye were attempts at prior restraint.

"We wanted to see the articles before they were published so that we could supply them with correct information and avoid any misunderstandings the reporter might have," he said. "They would have the option to refuse our corrections, but at least we felt we should have the opportunity."

Thompson said Scientologists had believed Ms. Fenly was a postal employe.

"There is a difference," he said, "between spying and investigative reporting."