AP Story: Police recommend charges in the McPherson case
From: daviss@aol.com (DavisS)
Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
Subject: AP Story: Police recommend changes in the McPherson case
Date: 17 Dec 1997 02:23:46 GMT

Scientologist Death Charges Sought

© The Associated Press

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - Police have recommended criminal charges in the case of a Scientologist who died in 1995 after spending 17 days at a church retreat.

A prosecution summary delivered Monday to Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe recommends charges in the death of Lisa McPherson, said Clearwater Deputy Police Chief Paul Maser, who would not discuss specifics of the case.

McCabe, who did not return a call for comment Tuesday, will decide whether charges are warranted after reviewing the summary.

McPherson's family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the church last February. They claim she was held in isolation against her will because she wanted to leave the church.

Kurt Weiland, a Scientology official in Los Angeles, said Clearwater police had ``no evidence'' and were continuing a two-decade pattern of discrimination against the church.

Scientology officials said McPherson, 36, had been taken to the retreat to recover from a mental breakdown.

According to an autopsy by the office of Medical Examiner Joan Wood, McPherson died of a blood vessel blockage in her left lung caused by severe dehydration and bed rest.

Wood said McPherson went without fluids for at least five to 10 days and possibly her entire stay at the hotel.

Church officials disputed that, saying McPherson was well cared for by church members but became violent and frequently resisted efforts to give her food, liquids and medications.

Church officials said she grew weak, lost weight and fell ill on Dec. 5, 1995. Church staffers said they drove her in a van to a hospital 45 minutes away in Pasco County so she could see an emergency room doctor who is a Scientologist. She was pronounced dead 20 minutes later.

Scientology was founded in the 1950s by the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who said people gathered traumatic memories in past lives that hindered them in the present. Scientologists believe those memories can be cleared through church counseling.

AP-NY-12-16-97 2029EST

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