Ex-Scientologist Settles on Fee for Documents

Source: Los Angeles Times
Date: December 17, 1986

A former archivist for the Church of Scientology has agreed to return thousands of pages of confidential church documents in exchange for an undisclosed payment as part of a settlement of his lawsuit against the church, attorneys confirmed Tuesday.

The documents, which a Superior Court judge said portray church founder L. Ron Hubbard as "virtually a pathological liar," have been under court seal for nearly four years pending the outcome of Gerald Armstrong's fraud and misrepresentation lawsuit.

Armstrong will receive an undisclosed cash payment under terms of the confidential settlement approved last week in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Armstrong's attorney, Michael Flynn, said the case was one of at least 10 lawsuits pending against the Church of Scientology settled last week. "We're very happy with the settlement. There are still some issues that are left open on appeal, but I think that it was an amiable settlement and I guess both sides are happy," he said.

Earle Cooley, attorney for the church, said plaintiffs who received settlements from the church did so "in recognition of the fact that their complaints were against prior management of the church, and not present management.

"I think we have demonstrated that litigation against the church is not a cost effective proposition and is not the road to untold riches." Cooley added.

Also among the settlements approved last week was an Oregon case brought by former church member Julie Christofferson-Titchbourne, who had twice won multimillion-dollar judgments against the church that were overturned on appeal. That case "has been fully settled," said her attorney, Gary McMurry.

Although precise terms of the settlements were ordered sealed by the court, documents filed last week in U.S. District Court show that the church was preparing to pay a total of $650,000 to four former members who had filed suits in federal court.

Appeal Not Settled

The Church of Scientology is appealing a $30-million judgment awarded to a former member who claimed that the church intentionally drove him to the edge of insanity and ruined him financially for criticizing the organization. That case has not been settled, "nor will it be," Cooley said Tuesday.

Armstrong, who lives in Boston, was a 12-year Scientologist who said he left the church disillusioned, taking with him more than 10,000 pages of the late L. Ron Hubbard's papers that purportedly proved that the church founder had misrepresented his military heroism and scientific achievements.

The church sued Armstrong for return of the documents, comparing Armstrong's confiscation of them to "mental rape" and accusing the former archivist of taking them in order to use the documents in future lawsuits against the church.

The papers, which a collector of Hubbard's work valued at $5 million, include letters from Hubbard to his various wives, manuscripts, a Hubbard biography and various letters described in court exhibit lists as "Penniless," "Suicidal Inclinations" and "Ill and Broke." The file also included a handwritten memorandum, "Open Up a Total War on IRS Gestapo."

Superior Court Judge Paul G. Breckenridge Jr., in an earlier ruling that cleared Armstrong of any liability in taking the documents, noted that the papers portray Hubbard as a man "who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background and achievements."