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Travolta joins sect protest of $39 million judgment

Title: Travolta joins sect protest of $39 million judgment
Date: Tuesday, 21 May 1985
Publisher: Clearwater Sun (Florida)
Main source: link (68 KiB)

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Thousands of Scientologists, buoyed by an appearance by church member John Travolta, marched downtown Monday in the third day of protests over a $39 million fraud judgment against their church and its leader.

Police Sgt. Jay Decker estimated "a few thousand" Church of Scientology members participated in the demonstration. "There will be more," he predicted, as the weeklong series of rallies and concerts progresses.

Scientologists had been arriving in Portland from across the United States, Europe and Australia since the verdict against the church was returned Friday.

Travolta broke from a promotional tour for the movie "Perfect" to fly to Portland early Monday for a news conference, and then left.

Chick Corea, a jazz musician, cut short a Japanese concert tour to travel to Portland to give a free concert Monday evening. "I, as a musician ... really value the right to speak freely and create freely and this is the issue that is under attack right now," he said at a news conference.

The Scientologists set up a base of operations in a park across from the courthouse where jurors awarded the judgment to Julie Christofferson Titchbourne. The 27-year-old Portland woman maintained the church fraudulently claimed it could improve her eyesight, intelligence and creativity.

Church members contend the judgment is an affront to their First Amendment rights of freedom of religion. They have 10 days to appeal the verdict against the church and its founder, science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.

But Ms. Titchbourne's attorney, Garry McMurry, said at a news conference the case did not have anything to do with religion. He said jurors were asked to decide whether services were offered to Ms. Titchbourne "on a wholly non-religious basis."

Jurors unanimously answered yes to that question, "so the argument that this was an attack on religion doesn't really fly," McMurry said.

[Picture / Caption: JOHN TRAVOLTA]