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'Preppie' rejected by scientology

By ESTHER PESSIN

NEW YORK -- 'Preppie' murder suspect Robert Chambers was rejected by a Church of Scientology center for failing to meet its standards of 'character and behavior' just months before he killed his date in Central Park, officials disclosed Monday.

Chambers, a former altar boy freed on bail with the help of a Catholic archbishop, was twice turned away from the scientology Celebrity Center, which has counseled such show business luminaries as John Travolta and Karen Black, officials said.

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Assistant District Attorney Linda Fairstein made the initial disclosure during a hearing in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, and the church confirmed the story.

Jury selection in Chambers' trial meanwhile was postponed until Oct. 20 because the young man's lawyer, Jack Litman, is in the midst of handling a federal conspiracy case in Newark, N.J.

Justice Howard Bell said he would decide during the next two weeks whether the suspect's videotaped confession may be played for the panel during the trial.

Chambers, 21, who attended some of the most exclusive schools in the New York area, has been charged with second-degree murder.

He allegedly strangled his date, 18-year-old prep school graduate Jennifer Dawn Levin, in Central Park behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Aug. 26, 1986.

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Chambers claims he accidentally choked the young woman during rough sex play.

His application to the scientology Celebrity Center was disclosed when the prosecutor complained to the judge that the center had failed to comply with an order to turn over records of two interviews with Chambers.

The young man, who has a history of drug abuse, went to the Celebrity Center with his mother in October 1985 and May 1986 and met with a minister there, said the Rev. John Carmichael, president of the church in New York.

Chambers was rejected both times, however, 'for failure to meet church standards of character and behavior,' he said, declining to elaborate. The second time was just months before Levin was killed.

The young man was under psychiatric care and went to a drug rehabilitation center in Minnesota during the spring of 1986, court papers show.

The Celebrity Center on East 82nd Street is 'designed to help people regain their happiness and self-respect' by teaching dianetics and scientology, Carmichael said.

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