Scientology Church Sued Over Alleged Assault Plot

Source: Los Angeles Times
Date: November 6, 1986

The attorney who won a $30-million judgment against the Church of Scientology sued church members Wednesday, claiming that they concocted a scheme to assault him in the courthouse cafeteria and blame the confrontation on him.

In the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, attorney Charles B. O'Reilly alleges that church leaders coaxed a young woman into "assaulting and battering" him in order to file a false criminal complaint against him.

The lawsuit did not specify the nature of the assault, but church officials said it undoubtedly stemmed from an incident in November, 1985, when O'Reilly spilled hot coffee on church member Marie Alexandre in the courthouse cafeteria.

"He poured scalding hot water on a young lady's arm, creating second-degree burns, possibly third-degree burns," said the Rev. Ken Hoden, president of the church in Los Angeles.

He Smiled

"The girl was screaming and crying and running down the hall. After he did that, and this is the one thing that I still to this day don't understand, he turned and he smiled at her," he said.

O'Reilly, who could not be reached Wednesday for comment, said in his suit that he was forced to hire an attorney to defend himself against the criminal charges, which were later dismissed.

Hoden said he believes that the lawsuit is "a childish, retaliatory response" to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Monday temporarily freeing the church from a requirement to post a $60-million bond while it appeals the $30-million judgment.

O'Reilly won the award on behalf of former church member Larry Wollersheim, who claimed that the church drove him to the edge of insanity and ruined him financially.