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Charges against minister withdrawn // Scientologist relieved

Title: Charges against minister withdrawn // Scientologist relieved
Date: Tuesday, 16 April 1991
Publisher: Edmonton Journal
Main source:

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A Church of Scientology minister says unsubstantiated sexual-assault charges brought against him were an attack against the church.

Allan Buttnor expressed relief, but also annoyance, after the Crown withdrew several charges against him Monday.

The charges were laid following a police investigation into claims by a 10-year-old girl.

The girl later told police the alleged incidents never happened.

"It was obviously an attack on our church," Buttnor said after emerging from Provincial Court.

Judge Edward Stack dismissed two counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual interference and one count of unlawful confinement against Buttnor.

While Buttnor said he was pleased "to have my reputation back in good repair," his lawyer said reputations sometimes get tarnished even when a person is acquitted in sexual-assault cases.

"Sexual assault is the charge of the '90s," said Jim Brimacombe.

"People seem to be aware of the fact that people are charged.

"But they often overlook the fact people are ultimately acquitted, or they feel they're acquitted for technical reasons and they actually did commit the offence."

There's been a tremendous increase in the number of sexual-assault charges being laid, Brimacombe said, adding local police officers have told him the department doesn't have the staff to adequately handle all the claims.

On one hand, Brimacombe says it's good that legitimate sexual assaults against children are coming to light, and being investigated by police. On the other, he's concerned for the reputations of those people wrongly accused.

"The police are put in an untenable position," he said.

"When you have one person saying it didn't happen and another saying it did happen, I think the human tendency would be to err on the side of caution and say: `Let the courts decide. I'll lay the charge.' "

The charges are at the centre of several lawsuits and countersuits involving Buttnor and the church, two police officers and two relatives of the girl.

Buttnor says he has no plans to drop his $1-million lawsuit against two police officers and a woman.

Buttnor was accompanied in court by Susan Kerr, the church's regional director from Vancouver.

"It's a relief to have it over with and get back to the normal functions of the church," Kerr said.

Copyright The Edmonton Journal