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Church sues former Scientologist for $10 million

Keith Fraser

CanWest News Service

Friday, March 26, 2004
Page A12

The Church of Scientology is suing a Chilliwack , B.C., man for more than $10 million for violating an agreement to remain silent about the organization.

A trial is scheduled for April in California .

The church says Gerry Armstrong , a long-time former church member, made numerous Internet postings that breached the deal signed in 1986.

The deal called for the 57-year-old Canadian citizen, a former resident of Marin County north of San Francisco , to be fined $50,000 each time he spoke about Scientology.

Armstrong, who joined the church in 1969 in Vancouver and moved to California and worked closely with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, admits that under the agreement he was also paid $500,000 to hand back documents he took when he left the church in 1981.

Armstrong admits he's breached the agreement "hundreds of thousands of times," but in a document filed in Marin County Superior Court he adds that he signed the deal under "shudder-inducing" duress and doesn't intend to abide by it.

Church lawyer Andrew Wilson said the amount of money the church paid Armstrong is closer to $800,000.

"He was paid a lot of money and he now says he was under duress, but he took the money," said Wilson, a California lawyer.

"Ironically when he was done spending or giving it way, about 1989, he started breaching the agreement and decided he had a constitutional right, to freedom of speech, to say whatever he wanted."

(c) The Calgary Herald 2004