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Former Scientologist settles suit against church

Title: Former Scientologist settles suit against church
Date: Tuesday, 11 June 1985
Publisher: Nashua Telegraph (New Hampshire)
Main source:

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BOSTON (AP) — A former Church of Scientology member has dropped her $200 million harassment claim against the organization, and group leaders say she settled for $150,000.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday in U.S. District Court when Judge W. Arthur Garrity announced that attorneys for La Venda Van Schaick, 35, asked for a dismissal, which he granted.

Garrity then cleared the courtroom, which was filled with Scientologist members, after denying requests from attorney Harvey Silverglate and the group's president, the Rev. Heber C. Jentz.sch, to read statements about the case in court.

Michael Flynn, Ms. Van Schaick's attorney, refused to confirm the amount of the settlement except to say "we're very happy."

Ms. Van Schaick was not in the courtroom Monday and Flynn declined to reveal her address, except to say she no longer lives in Massachusetts.

Jentzsch and Boston Scientology spokesman David Aden said the settlement amounts to $150,000 against the organization.

"There's never a defeat for us," said Jentzsch, who along with Aden and Silverglate said they agreed to the settlement Sunday because of events in Garrity's court Friday.

"He (Garrity) decided on Friday that Scientology has no rights in this court," Jentzsch said.

Silverglate said the "rather surprising compromise" came because Garrity denied requests to sequester the jury and disqualify Flynn. He also said the Sclentologists planned to show that Flynn allegedly infiltrated the organization's legal department.

In an interview, Flynn called the organization's claims "ridiculous."

The Van Schaick case was filed in 1979 when the former Boston woman left the organization and sought a $12,000 refund. Later, she sought $200 million for alleged harassment during the litigation.

Jentzsch said the Scientologists would have been able to prove that the woman's harassment claims were unfounded and that she would have made "one of the best witnesses."

"This was a suit motivated by greed. It was a suit to create an assault on religion," he said.

In a recent Portland, Ore., case, the Scientologists were assessed more than $39 million in damages following a religious fraud trial.