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Suit against Cazares rejected

Title: Suit against Cazares rejected
Date: Monday, 29 June 1992
Publisher: St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
Author: Curtis Krueger
Main source:

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A judge has dismissed a lawsuit by two Scientologists who claimed former Pinellas Democratic Chairman Gabe Cazares violated Florida's hate crimes law by ejecting them from a meeting.

Cazares said the outcome showed that "their tactic of trying to silence their critics and enemies by threats of suits under the hate crimes law is a tactic that will not work."

However, Paul Johnson, the attorney who represented the two Scientologists, intends to file an amended version of the lawsuit next week, said Paulette Gatlyn, a legal secretary in his office.

Scientology spokesman Richard Haworth could not be reached Friday.

Clearwater is the international spiritual headquarters for the Church of Scientology, which supporters say is a religion and critics say is a cult or a moneymaking group.

Cazares and the church have clashed several times since the organization secretly moved into Clearwater in 1975.

The current case goes back to the night of March 25, 1991, when Cazares presided at a meeting of the Pinellas Democratic Executive Committee, the main local party organization.

Alice Herben and Marsha Lovering, two registered Democrats and staff members of the Church of Scientology, attended.

When Cazares learned the women's address was the Fort Harrison Hotel a Scientology-owned building he "launched into a lengthy and scurrilous attack upon the Church of Scientology, " the lawsuit said.

Herben and Lovering said Cazares' criticism of Scientology violated a law that prohibits advertising that people are not welcome at an establishment because of their religion.

The lawsuit also claimed that Cazares' actions violated the hate crimes law, which provides stiffer penalties to people who commit crimes based on prejudice.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge John S. Andrews on June 19 granted a motion to dismiss the case. However, he gave Herben and Lovering 10 days to file an amended complaint.

"I think they've taken their best shot," said Cazares' attorney, Walt Logan.

But Cazares, who resigned as Democratic chairman to become a candidate for the County Commission, said he expected the Scientologists to pursue the case, which he calls politically motivated.

"I think they are hoping to hurt me politically. I think it's a political action, and I think it backfired."