Scientology loses mistrial motion


LOS ANGELES -- A Superior Court judge denied the Church of Scientology's 26th motion for a mistrial in the trial of a $25 million fraud suit brought by a disaffected former member, despite the appearance of actor John Travolta.

Travolta strode down a courthouse hallway lined with finger-snapping Scientologists Friday. When he rose in court to make a statement Judge Ronald Swearninger told him to sit down, and he did.


'It's very important for me to express my satisfaction with the results of being involved with Scientology these last 11 years so the court knows I represent a person involved with Scientology and that it works 100 percent for me,' Travolta said outside the courtroom.

'I'm not on trial here but the church is indirectly, so I had to defend it.'

The dancing film star of 'Saturday Night Fever' smiled at the hundreds of Scientologists, who snapped their fingers as he walked down a long corridor to the courtroom where Swearinger heard the church's motion for a mistrial.

After lengthy arguments marked by obvious hostility between attorneys, Swearinger rejected the motion -- the church's 26th mistrial motion during the 11-week case brought by former Scientologist Larry Wollersheim.


Wollersheim, 36, claims he spent 11 years and $100,000 in church counseling only to find that church promises of higher intelligence, great business success and supernatural powers were false.

The church claimed the case should be dismissed because the judge allowed 'highly inflammatory' testimony and created a 'circus atmosphere' that resulted in a trial of the church's beliefs rather than legitimate claims of civil law.

'When you take the overall and cumulative effect of these irresponsible, vicious attacks on Scientology there is no way this case can be purified,' said Scientology attorney Earle Cooley.

'There's no way this case can be submitted to a jury that will in any way render us a fair verdict.'

But Swearinger found testimony had not prejudiced the jury against the church and denied the motion.

Wollersheim claims the church wrecked him emotionally and financially by forcing him to separate from his wife, child and family and by instructing Scientologists to boycott his novelty store. Church members were his main customers, he said.

The church claims Wollersheim cannot be believed because of his history of drug abuse and mental instability. It claimed Friday his attorneys had not proven their key allegations against the church.


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