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Two tapes not played at cult trial

Title: Two tapes not played at cult trial
Date: Saturday, 13 April 1985
Publisher: The Oregonian (Portland)
Author: Fred Leeson
Main source: link (53 KiB)

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Attorneys for the Church of Scientology finished their cross-examination of a former Scientologist Friday without attempting to use the last two of four surreptitiously recorded videotapes made for the purpose of discrediting him.

The latter tapes, made in Los Angeles In November 1984 without the knowledge of Gerald D. Armstrong, a church critic who appeared on them, were delivered to Multnomah Circuit Judge Donald H. Londer Friday.

Londer had learned of the existence of the tapes Thursday and ordered them produced in court along with legal authority that allowed them to be made under California law without Armstrong's permission.

Despite the arrival of the second set of tapes, attorney Earle C. Cooley finished his cross-examination of Armstrong without offering to play them to the jury. "I didn't want to get into the tapes," he told Londer out of the jury's presence. "It took us four days last time."

Cooley presented two earlier tapes to the jury Wednesday after two days of arguments outside the jury's presence about the tapes' admissibility. He contended that the tapes showed that Armstrong, who left the church in December 1981, had been involved in an unsuccessful conspiracy to wrest financial and managerial control of the church.

Armstrong spent a full week on the witness stand on behalf of Julie Christofferson Titchbourne, a Portland woman who claims the church defrauded her during her nine-month stint with the church ending in 1976. She seeks the return of $3,000 and punitive damages against the church and its founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Armstrong testified that he had spent almost two years, ending in 1981, gathering materials for a biography of Hubbard, during which time he learned of numerous inaccuracies in statements by the church and Hubbard about Hubbard's educational, professional and military background. Titchbourne testified earlier that she had relied on some of those representations in deciding to become involved with Scientology.

In a meeting with Londer, John G. Peterson, a Los Angeles church attorney, said the videotapes were made at the direction of a Toronto attorney who is defending Scientologists there against criminal charges arising from a police raid. He said Armstrong was a police informant in the case.

On the tapes played Wednesday, Armstrong said he knew how to place phony documents in church files, but he said that plan, intended to clear up what he considered violations of church policies by church officials, was never carried out.