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$12,000 spent on Scientology course: suit

Title: $12,000 spent on Scientology course: suit
Date: Tuesday, 19 November 1985
Publisher: Montreal Gazette
Author: Rod MacDonell
Main source:

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A Montreal stockbroker who claims he was brainwashed last year by members of the Church of Scientology testified yesterday that he paid $12,000 to the sect for personality courses.

Gilles Lanthier, 28, told Sessions Court Judge Benjamin Schecter that he began having doubts about the sect when he was told to abandon his wife and seek further Scientology instruction in Toronto.

He said that his personality courses were to cost $22,000, but a church member told him he had been granted a bursary and that he would be charged only $12,000 for the lessons.

The Scientology mission, based at 4489 Papineau Ave., is charged with violating Quebec's Consumer Protection Act.

It is alleged not to have given written contracts to two people and to have illegally received full payment for the courses before the lessons began.

Lanthier said he did not receive any lessons. His involvement with the group began Aug. 23, 1984, and lasted about 10 days.

He has filed a suit in Provincial Court seeking to recover his $12,000. The church denied in that action that the stockbroker was brainwashed.

Later last year, it cost a 22-year-old Lachute student almost $6,000 for courses to make him a "superior being."

Benoit Moreau testified that he learned nothing during the first 12 hours of lessons, which cost $2,981.

Moreau said that during one session last November, he was summoned into the office of a church official and told he had to pay another $2,981 for a second 12-hour course, which he was told had already begun.

"There was no getting out of it," he said. "I had to write out a cheque."

A computer listing at the Montreal courthouse indicates that 15 former members have filed suits totalling $328,000 against the sect this year.

Four other actions for a total of $28,000 were settled out of court.

Before the two testified yesterday, the judge sternly admonished church official Linda Lussier for attempting to "manipulate" the court.

The group has disagreed with its first and second lawyer, and wanted to postpone the hearing to allow its third set of lawyers time to prepare.

Schecter ordered that the Crown present its evidence and the sect's lawyers will be allowed to cross-examine the witnesses at a date to be set.

One of the Scientologist's new lawyers, Jacques Bellemare, told the court he will present constitutional arguments.

The group is also expected to plead that as a church, it is not subject to consumer protection laws.

The Church of Scientology was founded in 1952 by L. Ron Hubbard, a former science fiction writer. The sect has about 600 missions in 30 countries.

The sect is best known for its book Dianetics, which deals with what it calls the modern science of mental health.