Shocking, I know: Church of Scientology faces fraud trial in France. Snip:
A French judge has ordered two branches of the Church of Scientology and seven of its leaders to stand trial for fraud, in the latest of a series of French legal battles against the organisation promoted by celebrities such as Tom Cruise.
Scientology, which offers self-improvement based on the writings of the science-fiction author L Ron Hubbard, is seen as controversial in France’s secular republic. Although Scientology is registered as a religion in the US, French authorities treat it as a sect.
The latest case centres on a complaint made in 1998 by a 33-year-old woman who said she was approached by a group of people outside a Paris metro station who offered her a free personality test and a later meeting to interpret the results. Over the following months, she said she paid 140,000 francs (£17,000) to the Scientologists for courses, books, medication, and “purification packs”.
Judge Jean-Christophe Hullin ruled that the Scientologists’ operational centres in France, its “Celebrity Center” and its bookshop, along with seven church leaders should be tried for “organised fraud” and “illegally practising as pharmacists”. (…read more!)