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Attorney Sues Church of Scientology In Assault Case

November 6, 1986 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The attorney for a man who was awarded $30 million in a lawsuit against the Church of Scientology has filed his own suit against the organization over an assault complaint leveled against him.

Charles B. O’Reilly, who successfully handled former Scientologist Larry Wollersheim’s case, filed the lawsuit Wednesday against the organization, its lawyer in the case and several Scientology officials.

The Superior Court lawsuit, which does not specify damages sought, contends that during Wollersheim’s trial, Scientology members intentionally set up an assault incident that led to a false criminal report being filed against him.

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The lawsuit doesn’t specify the nature of the assault, but Scientology officials say it probably was an incident in the courthouse cafeteria in November 1985, when O’Reilly spilled coffee on member Marie Alexandre.

″He poured scalding hot water on a young lady’s arm, creating second- degree burns, possibly third-degree burns,″ said the Rev. Ken Hoden, president of the church in Los Angeles. ″The girl was screaming and crying and running down the hall. After he did that, and this is the one thing that I still to this day don’t understand, he turned and he smiled at her.″

O’Reilly was out of his office and unavailable for comment Wednesday, said his secretary, Mary Cochran.

In the lawsuit, O’Reilly says he was forced to hire counsel to defend himself against the criminal charges, which eventually were dismissed.

Hoden called the allegations ludicrous.

″I think it’s a childish retaliatory response to the U.S. Supreme Court granting a stay of execution in our case,″ he said.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily freed the organization from a required $60 million bond while it appeals Wollersheim’s award.

Wollersheim, a Scientologist for 11 years, said he was harassed and driven out of business after he criticized the organization.

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury on July 22 awarded Wollersheim $5 million in compensatory and $25 million in punitive damages.

The church contended that Wollersheim’s suit put religious beliefs on trial, but Judge Ronald Swearinger refused to grant a new trial or reduce the award.