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Scientology lawyers: Church did not harass former executive and wife

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Lawyers for the Church of Scientology say what a former church executive and his wife call harassment in a Texas lawsuit was an exercise of free speech.

A judge in New Braunfels heard testimony from Scientologists and members of the church's large legal team Wednesday, the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times reported. The church has asked Comal County Judge Dib Waldrip to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Monique Rathbun.

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Her husband, Marty, quit the church in 2004 and began publicly speaking out against Scientology five years later. Monique Rathbun said that triggered a campaign that included confrontations outside their home and using private detectives to tail them.

Ricardo Cedillo, a San Antonio lawyer representing the church, acknowledged the action but said it was legitimate. He said the church used detectives to determine if Marty Rathbun was distributing copyright Scientology material without permission.

"We maintain our protest was peaceful," Cedillo said.

The church is fighting an order by Waldip that David Miscavige, the head of the church and a defendant in the lawsuit, give a deposition. Rathbun was Miscavige's deputy at the time of his departure.

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Waldip is expected to make a decision after giving Monique Rathbun's lawyers a chance to make their case sometime in the next few weeks.

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