Former Church Official Testifies in Civil Suit
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ The former executive director and board chairman of the Church of Scientology has testified that the church’s organizations were ″totally indoctrinated to get every last dime″ out of prospective members.
William W. Franks, who once was designated to succeed Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard as head of the church, was the second witness in the retrial of a civil lawsuit brought by former Scientology member Julie Christopherson Titchbourne.
Ms. Titchbourne, who lives in Portland, is seeking punitive damages from the church on grounds she was defrauded by the church during her nine-month involvement with the religion in 1975 and 1976. Defendants in the case are Hubbard, the Church of Scientology of California and the Church of Scientology Mission of Davis.
In 1979, an Oregon jury awarded her more than $2 million, but the judgment was reversed by the state Court of Appeals and a new trial ordered.
In addition to Franks, the new trial is expected to include several other church officials who have left Scientology since 1979.
Franks, who left the church in 1981, testified Tuesday that the Church of Scientology raised about $2 million per week from its international operations and that funds were transferred secretly to Hubbard through a Liberian corporation.
Franks said he talked with Hubbard in person on many occasions, the last time in May 1975. He said Hubbard’s main concern at that time was money and that ″in all subsequent telex communications (from Hubbard) it was basically money.″
He said Hubbard supposedly had resigned from the church in 1966 and that members and prospective members were told that Hubbard no longer received church money.
In opening statements last week, defense attorney Ted Runstein said some former Scientology members who would testify at the trial had been driven out of the church after an unsuccessful attempt to take control of it. Franks did not testify Tuesday about his departure.
Franks attributed the financial success of Scientology to the devotion of its members to a ″big league sales″ program embraced by Hubbard after reading about it in a book written by a used car salesman.
Franks estimated the net worth of the Church of Scientology of California at $340 million.
Ms. Titchbourne testified in the first week of the trial that she signed up for $3,000 worth of Scientology books and classes in July 1975 with the understanding that she would be learning about science, not religion.
She said her mental abilities became ″severely impaired″ as a result of long drills and other procedures used in the church. She said she was deprogrammed by her parents in Montana in March 1976.
During questioning by defense attorneys, Ms. Titchbourne said she had never been physically assaulted by Scientologists and was never restrained from leaving whenever she wanted.