LOS ANGELES -- A former Church of Scientology member accused of taking documents belonging to the church and its founder testified Thursday the organization was steeped in dishonesty.
'The major thing that got me into Scientology was the promise of truth, the promise of honesty,' Gerald Armstrong said in reviewing his 12 years with the group.
'It was in all his (founder L. Ron Hubbard's) materials. Never could one glean from any of the materials that it was dishonesty that was looked to by him and the organization.'
Armstrong is expected to testify several more days in the non-jury Superior Court trial of the church's civil suit to retrieve the documents.
The suit claims Armstrong invaded the privacy of Hubbard and his wife, Mary Sue Hubbard, and illegally converted the materials to his own use by giving it to his attorney, Michael Flynn, as evidence in several civil suits against the church.
Armstrong claims he needed the documents to defend himself against the church, which declared him a thief and rumormonger who claimed the documents proved Hubbard had misrepresented his military heroism and scientific achievements.
Armstrong, 38, testified he sold everything he had and left Canada to join Scientology. While working at the church's facilities in Culver City, he was sent to the group's punitive Rehabilitation ProjectForce for 17 months and forced to do 100 hours a week of forced labor in Clearwater, Fla.
He said he was punished because he swore at an aide who singled him out as a security risk who might tell authorities where to find the reclusive Hubbard.
Armstrong said he later regained favor in the church and became renovation purchaser for Hubbard's house in Gilman Hot Springs, where he was archivist and researcher for Hubbard's planned biography.
Armstrong said naval records convinced him Hubbard was not a war hero and that a 'China diary' detailing Hubbard's trip to the Orient disillusioned him about Hubbard's purportedly extensive Asian studies.
Armstrong said he left the church in December 1981 and took about 2 percent of the accumulated biographical documents that are the subject of the court suit.