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Woman awarded $2 million in suit against Scientologists

Title: Woman awarded $2 million in suit against Scientologists
Date: Thursday, 16 August 1979
Publisher: Los Angeles Times (California)
Main source: link (61 KiB)

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Church failed to fulfill promises of improving life, she claimed; also said she suffered emotional distress

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A jury awarded more than $2 million in damages Wednesday to a 22-year-old woman who claimed the Church of Scientology defrauded her by failing to fulfil promises of improving her life.

The jury deliberated 18 hours over two days before reaching its unanimous decision.

In her suit, Julie C. Titchbourne, 21, of Portland, alleged she suffered emotional distress as a result of her experience with the church in 1975-76.

She had $2 million in punitive damages, $500,000 for alleged anguish and suffering and $3,000 reimbursement for course fees.

After the jury award, Mrs. Titchbourne said she planned to use part of the money to study engineering in college.

Named as defendants were the Church of Scientology of Portland; the Scientology Mission of Davis in Portland; and the Delphian Foundation, an organization the church says is separate although staffed by Scientologists.

The jury ruled the defendants committed fraud, awarding Mrs. Titchbourne punitive damages of $1.9 million and compensatory damages of $153,000.

In a statement, the church criticized the decision, saying it "is a blow to all of those who cherish the right to practice their religion free from the harassment of psychiatrists and deprogrammers who have appointed themselves self-styled inquisitors."

Earlier, Circuit Court. Judge Robert P. Jones told the jurors that if they decided the church's promises were of a religious nature, and sincerely advertised as such, the church is protected by the state and federal constitutions.

Mrs. Titchbourne claimed the church courses she took failed to live up to promises to help her with her college classwork, develop her creativity and raise her IQ test scores. She claims she suffers emotional distress as a result.

The Scientologists say Mrs. Titchbourne joined of her own free will and is just interested in persecuting the church. During the trial, a psychologist testified he could find no evidence of psychological damage.