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Convicted of fraud by France’s highest court, Scientology still pursues creative appeals

ScientologyFranceOur man in Paris, Jonny Jacobsen, has another dispatch for us about developments with Scientology in France. Take it away, Jonny…

In the interest of tying up loose ends, here are a couple of items, both fall-out from France’s definitive conviction of Scientology for organised fraud last year.

The first deals with Scientology’s latest attempt to persuade people that the French state was the prime mover behind its recent fraud convictions, rather than the courts that actually judged them.

The second item is yet another slap on the wrist from a French court to those convicted in the case.

News weekly Nouvel Observateur has reported that Scientology was going after France’s Ecole nationale de la magistrature (ENM), the school that trains up the country’s judges. (You can find a scan of the Nouvel Obs piece and a handy translation by “mnql1” over at the Ex-Scientologist Message Board.)

Arguing that the country’s judges were biased against Scientology, the movement pointed to the training offered by the ENM as evidence.


Scientology lodged an application with the Commission d’Acces aux Documents Administratifs (CADA), Nouvel Obs writer Marie Lemonnier reported. They wanted to know who had been invited to give talks at the ENM concerning them and which magistrates were present at those talks. They also wanted to see any relevant documents dating as far back as 1998.

Scientology and their lawyers argue that at least some of the outside speakers hired by the ENM are critics of the movement — and that some of the judges involved in their cases attended their talks.

That, for them, is enough to show that these judges can no longer be considered to be neutral and should therefore never be allowed anywhere near cases related to Scientology.

Scientologists even tried to get into the training sessions held at the Paris base of the ENM on the Ile de la Cité in the heart of the capital (just down the road from Notre Dame Cathedral).

Xavier Ronsin, head of the ENM, told Nouvel Obs they had turned them away from the lectures, as they are not open to the public. In protest, the Scientologists had staged demonstrations outside.

Ronsin dismissed as “pure fantasy” any suggestion that the ENM was indoctrinating France’s magistrates against the movement. “No group can impose its choices (on us),” he told Nouvel Obs. “You have to wonder though, why they are so concerned by these courses!”

In December CADA responded to Scientology’s request by handing over some of the teaching materials used at the lectures in question. But it refused to release the names either of the lecturers or those who attended, on the grounds of respecting their privacy.

But Scientology already knows who at least one of the lecturers is.

Arnaud Palisson, a former officer at Renseignements Généraux — the intelligence branch of the French police — has made no secret of the fact that he used to give lectures there.

In 2002 Palisson, a specialist in cults during his time in the RG, wrote his doctoral thesis on how to use the French law to tackle Scientology’s activities.

While it was well-received in some quarters, after lobbying by Scientology he was sidelined from his work in this field: Palisson eventually quit in disgust and moved to Canada.

It was when Palisson stopped getting invitations to lecture there that he realized he was out of favour with the powers-that-be.

When in February 2012 the Paris appeal court confirmed the initial fraud convictions against Scientology, Palisson welcomed the ruling as a vindication of his own work in this field. (Here’s the original piece at Palisson’s blog, Rapports Minoritaires, and here’s mnql1’s excellent translation, again at ESMB.)

That was enough for Scientology’s lawyers to renew their protests.

I asked Palisson about this back in June 2012 when I wrote up the row at Infinite Complacency. He made it clear that the magistrate involved in the case against Scientology had not attended his lectures. From what he understood from his contacts, she had stayed away precisely to avoid this kind of charge since advanced by the Scientologists.

But in any case, as the Cour de Cassation made clear in its ruling last October, Scientology would need something a lot more substantial to establish its case.

They are nevertheless pressing on with their campaign.

François Jacquot, lawyer for the Celebrity Centre — one of the two Scientology organisations convicted of organised fraud — said they would be appealing the CADA ruling to the Conseil d’Etat.

The Conseil is France’s highest jurisdiction in legal matters: one of its duties is ensuring that the government itself stays within the law.

So its ruling on this matter, when it comes, will be the administrative equivalent of the Cour de Cassation‘s ruling last October making Scientology’s fraud convictions definitive.

To be continued then.

Secondly, we reported in January on some fall-out from the French conviction last year of Scientology for organised fraud and promised an update.

Well here it is, and it’s another rap on the knuckles for the movement.

In our previous article we explained how one of the defendants, Sabine Jacquart, had tried to get counter-cult group UNADFI and its lawyer Olivier Morice fined for their role in the trial.

Jacquart, a former president of Scientology’s Celebrity Centre in Paris, was convicted with others of organised fraud in a landmark 2009 trial (confirmed on appeal in 2012 and set in stone by the Cour de Cassation last year).

She argued that UNADFI and Morice should never have been allowed a voice in the trial given that their bids for plaintiff status was eventually rejected by every court that heard the court.

Instead of awarding damages in her favour, the court agreed with UNADFI’s defence and counter-claim that this was an unwarranted attack on them.

The result? Jacquart ended up with a bill for 27,000 euros in damages and legal costs.

We mentioned that Jacquart was not the only defendant to have launched such actions and that the judgments in those cases were due shortly.

Well, they came in on February and UNADFI reported on them in their newsletter. The results? More humiliation for the convicted Scientologists.

Both Alain Rosenberg and Jean-François Valli had also attacked UNADFI, accusing it of an abuse of the law that was “grossly unfair” because of its intention to harm Scientology.

Rosenberg, you will recall, is the former managing director of the Paris Celebrity Centre.

Both he and the centre were convicted of organised fraud. He was also convicted of complicity in the illegal exercise of pharmacy.

Valli was one of the salesmen at Scientologie Espace Libraire (SEL), the second outfit that was on trial. Both he and SEL were convicted of organised fraud.

Both men had no more luck than Jacquart: in February, the court rejected their complaints and awarding damages against them.

Rejecting their complaints, the court ruled that it was perfectly legitimate that:

“…an association recognised as having public benefit should undertake any action it thinks useful and that the law should allow this… without its mere presence during legal proceedings linked to its mission being judged abusive.”

Don’t choke on your coffee: the association the court was referring to was UNADFI, not Scientology.

— Jonny Jacobsen


Scientology tax return of the day

Scientology has enjoyed tax-exempt status since 1993, and churches are not required to submit annual returns. However, following a change in the law in 2006, even church organizations are required to submit returns for “unrelated business income,” known as 990-T reports. Those returns don’t reflect the church-related income taken in by Scientology (an organization built on the idea of paying large sums for spiritual advancement), but the forms do ask for a corporate entity to report its “book value” — an indication of that entity’s total assets, such as real estate.

Today, another whopper: The Church of Spiritual Technology’s 2012 return, which shows a book value of $447,192,921. CST is the odd organization that digs vaults in various parts of the country in order to store L. Ron Hubbard’s writings and lectures for future generations. We had one of the lengthiest, most complete stories about CST back in 2012.

Let’s take another look at the book value of just three of Scientology’s major entities — the Church of Scientology International (CSI), the Flag Service Organization (FSO, which runs the ‘mecca’ in Clearwater, Florida), and CST in 2012, the most recent year for returns…

CSI 2012 Book Value: $846,314,618
CST 2012 Book Value: $447,192,921
FSO 2012 Book Value: $209,655,686

Total: $1,503,163,225

Not bad for an organization with maybe only about 30,000 paying members left.


2012 Church of Spiritual Technology 990-T return


Surviving Scientology podcast: Chris Shelton

Jeffrey Augustine spends time with former Sea Org officer Chris Shelton in the second installment of the Surviving Scientology podcast series…



Posted by Tony Ortega on April 21, 2014 at 07:00

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UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN (Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer


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