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Scientologist says sect detained him

Title: Scientologist says sect detained him
Date: Friday, 9 March 1984
Publisher: Clearwater Sun (Florida)
Author: George-Wayne Shelor
Main source: link (142 KiB)

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For the second time since January, a Scientologist trying to leave the sect's international headquarters at the former Fort Harrison Hotel was physically detained until police intervened, according to police.

Daniel Codrino, who traveled from New York to Clearwater to take $7,000 in Scientology courses, was told he would have to pay an additional $1,165 for another course, according to a Clearwater police report. Codrino refused to pay and when he tried to leave, two sect members tried to push him back into the hotel, the report states.

Although Codrino declined to press charges of false imprisonment Monday night, he did complain of his treatment and detail for police the reasons he wanted to leave.

Sect spokesman Richard Haworth said the event was "a misunderstanding" and explained that Codrino "was actually trying to flag down a cab" when instead, a policeman pulled over to investigate.

But according to the police report:

Codrino, a Scientologist for 10 years, told investigators that he came to Clearwater to take several courses known collectively as "the O.T. (Operating Thetan) Levels," a series of courses reportedly available only in Clearwater.

When the 30-year-old man arrived at the Fort Harrison, he was met by a man identified only as "Charlie," the sect's director of processing. Charlie informed Codrino that the service he had paid $7,000 for some years ago "would not be available. And instead of participation in the O.T. prep. and O.T. levels," Codrino would be given an alternate program called the "Sunshine Run Down" at an additional cost of $1,165.

"The Sunshine Run Down is a course a person takes prior to the time they are on the O.T. levels," Haworth explained Thursday afternoon. "I haven't gone through that so I can't really explain it. But it's a preparatory step."

Codrino told police such programs are "structured, one-on-one conseling sessions which are designed in a graduated series with the ultimate goal of the participant realizing his 'Operating Thetan.'"

Codrino described an Operating Thetan as a state of mind in which a person becomes "complete on a spiritual level."

Once enlisted in such courses, a person "is required to give a 'donation' to the Church of Scientology," Codrino told police. "This donation will be used to pay for the various programs."

Codrino's said he "donated" the $7,000 to take a series of courses he was later told were not available and that it would be necessary for him to take the "prerequisite course" (the SunshineRun Down) and "donate an additional $1,165."

Codrino said he told sect staff members around 9:30 p.m. Monday that he was not willing to pay the extra amount and he decided to leave the Fort Harrison. As he stood on Fort Harrison Avenue, Codrino was approached by two Scientologists, one whom he described as "a Guardian," who tried to persuade him into staying and taking the courses.

It was as the two men were pushing him back into the hotel that Clearwater police Sgt. Jeff Kronschnabl arrived.

"There's a cop!" stated one of the men detaining Codrino, and [illegible] and his accomplice left [illegible] wants the sect to return his $7,000, but he refused official assistance, saying he would try to get his money back through the mail.

Haworth said Codrino "hasn't made a request to us (for reimbursement) that I know of. But sure, he'll get his money back if he asks."

Codrino also told authorities the sect has "a great amount of data (about him) concerning his personality and psychological make-up which they could use... against him in order to mentally debase him."

Although he "believes in the premise of the Church," Codrino said, he thinks many of the members involved in organizing the counseling programs are "con- [illegible] monetary gain [illegible] the individual seeking the services."

After filing a report at police headquarters, Codrino was approached by two sect members, Charles Bills and spokesman Haworth, who again questioned him as to why he was leaving, according to police.

Codrino replied that he "just wanted to leave" and a police officer escorted him into a cab.

Bills and Haworth told police they were "only concerned for (Codrino's) well-being and only wished to see what was bothering" him.

On Jan. 2, Texas millionaire William "Willie B." Wilson's cab was blocked as it tried to leave the sect's headquarters. Police were called by the cabdriver but Wilson, a Scientologist, declined [illegible]