All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.
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The Church of Scientology of Toronto was fined $250,000 yesterday for criminal breaches of trust involving espionage activities nearly 20 years ago within two police forces and the Ontario Attorney-General's Ministry.
The sentencing judge rejected a prosecutor's call for the imposition of jail terms on individual participants in the activities. Instead, he levied fines totalling $9,000.
Mr. Justice James Southey of the Ontario Court's General Division said a jury's verdict that the church was guilty of two counts of breach of trust reflected a finding that the "directing minds of the church" were involved in the illegal activities and a rejection of defence arguments that the church and its Guardian's Office were separate entities.
Although admitting the financial statements submitted by the church showed that its liabilities exceed its assets, Judge Southey rejected defence arguments that he should levy only a nominal fine. He suggested at least part of the $250,000 could be paid by "the mother church," the Church of Scientology of California.
Evidence at the trial and sentencing hearing showed the U.S. parent incorporated the Toronto church in 1969 and contributed, through interest-free loans, toward the $7-million cost of fighting the criminal charges. One Crown witness described the 1969 incorporation as designed to minimize the parent church's exposure to lawsuits.
Noting that the Toronto church is run by three appointed directors over whom the 7,000 parishioners had no control, the judge described its structure as "completely undemocratic."
Although describing both the defence call for a nominal fine and the Crown's proposal for a fine of at least $1-million as "extreme and unsupportable," Judge Southey saved most of his criticism for the defence position.
Rejecting a contention that the church had shown remorse for its role in the affair, the judge suggested that in reality there was a continuing attempt to blame individuals within the church for illegal activities that had been carried out at the direction of senior Scientology officials.
The judge said he was satisfied the British-based Guardian's Office World Wide was "subject to the control of founder L. Ron Hubbard and his wife, Mary Sue Hubbard." He specifically refused to make any finding as to the extent that Mr. Hubbard, who died in 1986, "directed or controlled the Guardian's Office World Wide."
Although acknowledging the Guardian's Office was disbanded in 1983, the judge noted this was after incriminating documents had been seized by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and The Globe and Mail had published an article in 1980 disclosing the fact that some of the documents had originated within the Ontario Government.
Judge Southey also rejected defence arguments that a heavy fine was not necessary in the absence of evidence of similar infiltration by other religious groups.
Describing general deterrence as the principal factor to be applied in sentencing, he said there was a need to deter any organization that might contemplate placing "plants" in law-enforcement agencies. "It is not only religious bodies that need to be deterred."
He did agree with the defence lawyers that the fine should take into account the fact the Toronto church had been incorporated as a non-profit organization, that the activities were not carried out for personal or financial gain and that the activities did not lead to any significant interference with the administration of justice and had long since stopped.
The church was fined $150,000 in connection with infiltration of the Attorney-General's Ministry in 1974 and 1975 during which Scientologist Janice Wheeler sent copies of some secret documents to the Guardian's Office and allowed a member of the office to go through ministry files in an unsuccessful attempt to find a file on Scientology.
The remaining $100,000 was in connection with similar activities in 1976 by a Scientology operative within the Ontario Provincial Police.
Jacqueline Matz, a former member of the Toronto Guardian's Office, was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine at the rate of $200 a month for 25 months. Ms. Wheeler and Donald Whitmore, described as a Scientology plant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at Ottawa who memorized information from RCMP files, were each fined $2,000.
Outside the court, church representatives distributed preprinted statements declaring the sentence "an outrage and miscarriage of justice."
Rev. Earl Smith renewed criticism of the Crown's decision to grant immunity from prosecution to former Guardian's Office officials who agreed to testify for the prosecution. He said that while those people had gone free, the justice system had punished "innocent Scientologists for acts they neither condoned or knew about."
He said it was the first time in the English-speaking world that a religion had been put on trial for criminal offences.
"Never before has a church been tried for the alleged actions of a handful of former officials."
In a similar vein, the Coalition for Religious Freedom and Justice said the fine formed "a precedent for all time that money given in good faith for charitable purposes can be hijacked by the state through legislation." The coalition describes itself as an ad-hoc group comprising about 25 clergy from several Christian denominations.