12 Scientologists charged with fraud
Agence France Presse
January 15, 1992
Twelve leading members of the Scientology Church in France were charged here Wednesday with fraud and illegally practicing medicine, court officials said.
The head of the church's French branch, Jean-Claude Chapelet, was charged with the same offences Tuesday.
All 13 defendants were allowed to go free.
Thirty sect leaders were detained Monday and Tuesday after police raids on Paris headquarters and an annex of the controversial church.
Warrants were issued by a judge acting on complaints by former sect members who say they have been defrauded of a total of four million francs (740,000 dollars).
It was the second police swoop in less than two years against the Scientology Church here.
The Scientology Church, founded in 1954 by the late science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, claims six million members worldwide.
But a French group opposed to religious sects, the Center for Documentation, Education and Action against Mental Manipulation (CCMM), says it has only about 400,000 members in some 30 countries, including several thousand in France.
Scientology claims all ilnesses can be cured on condition the human brain rids itself of "aberrations." Learning how to achieve this costs around 100,000 francs (18,500 dollars) plus several costly "purification" sessions, CCMM says.
Converts include such celebrities as soprano Julia Migenes-Johnson, actor John Travolta and jazz pianist Chick Corea.
The sect has often found itself in trouble with officialdom the world over, accused of defrauding and brainwashing followers and, in France, of quackery at its illegal anti-drug clinics called "Narconon."