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The Week // Author files $20-million suit against Scientologists

Title: The Week // Author files $20-million suit against Scientologists
Date: Monday, 21 August 1978
Publisher: Publisher's Weekly
Author: Madalynne Reuter
Main source: link (755 KiB)

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The author of a book critical of Scientologists has filed a $20-million damage suit against the Church of Scientology of New York, Inc., charging it with calculated and reckless plan of harassment during the past five and [?] years. The suit was filed August [?] State Supreme Court in New York by Paulette Cooper, author of "The Scandal of Scientology," published [?] Tower in 1971.

According to published reports, Scientologists caused the publisher [?] withdraw the book from circulation. While acknowledging that there [?] "complaints and suits by he church [?] Gerard Brisman, executive president of Tower Publications [?] would reserve all comments about [?] book's history pending discussion with counsel and with the author.

In her complaint, Cooper asserts [?] records recently obtained by the [?] from the files of the Church of Scientology indicate that she was the object of a campaign with the code name "Operation Freakout," the stated purpose of which was to "incarcerate Paulette Cooper in a mental institution or in jail."

Cooper, who is the author also [?] "The Medical Detectives" [?] "Growing Up Puerto Rican" [?] House, NAL) and a children's [?] "Halloween" (Watts), said one act of a retaliatory campaign against [?] began in December 1972. At the [?] her complaint states, Scientolog[?] gained access to her apartment under false pretenses, stole her personal stationery, composed a bomb threat [?] themselves purportedly from [?] mailed it to themselves and reported [?] receipt to the FBI. In May 197[?] was indicted for sending a bomb [?] denying it, and arrested. It was not until 1975, the complaint asserts, that she was able to demonstrate her innocence and the charges were dismissed. And it was not until October 1977, the complaint continues, that she was advised by the FBI that evidence had been obtained bearing out her allegations against the Scientologists.

Cooper told PW that a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York is currently considering new evidence obtained from the subpoenaed records of the church that the bomb threat was, as she charged, a frame-up.

In other actions in its campaign to silence her as a critic, her suit charges, the church has instituted 14 suits against her; has sent "false and malicious but anonymous" letters to her friends and fellow tenants; has made "threatening and abusive telephone calls to her"; has stolen records from her and from the offices of her doctor and lawyer; and has threatened her with bodily harm.

Other publishers, as well as Tower, have felt the brunt of the church's attention. For the two months prior to Lippincott's publication June 19 of "Snapping: America's Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change" by Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, representatives of Scientology made repeated demands to see the manuscript or proofs, according to Lippincott. Their campaign of pressure was directed against Siegelman, the authors' agent-lawyer, their editor, two executive officers in Lippincot's New York offices and the company's production manager and copyediting chief at Lippincott's Philadelphia headquarters. When the demands were refused, the Scientologists threatened legal action if in their view the published book contained false or misleading material.

In a statement, the authors declared that the actions of the Scientologists were "tantamount to a demand of prior censorship and constituted an overt threat of legal action. The vital question of author and publisher liability has only recently begun to attract public attention, in part because of the actions of Scientology and other organizations which have virtually unlimited funds at their disposal to pursue their critics in the courts," the authors said.