U.S. Marshals Serve Warrant in Scientology Case
WASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. marshals seized computer equipment and files Saturday from a Virginia man accused by the Church of Scientology of posting its most sacred texts on the Internet.
Marshals also served Arnaldo Lerma, 44, with a restraining order barring him from revealing more of the church’s copyrighted documents in a federal copyright infringement suit filed by the church on Friday.
``What he was engaging in was a form of copyright terrorism,″ said Helena Kobrin, an attorney with Scientology’s Religious Technology Center. ``It’s not OK to do this with people’s copyrighted materials.″
Last September, Lerma began placing court documents alleging wrongdoing by the church, as well as some of Scientology’s most sacred texts, on international computer bulletin boards. The church said he spread the information across the Internet and called that a defilement of its texts.
Dave Branham, spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, said two deputy marshals executed the court order Saturday morning.
Lerma’s postings described abuse by former Scientology officials, claims that Scientology brainwashes and defrauds members, and details of the path to theological growth that the church says will transform people into near-gods.
Founded 40 years ago by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology teaches that technology can expand the mind and help solve human problems. It can cost thousands of dollars for initiates to progress through the church’s teachings and counseling.
Lerma has said he joined the church in 1963 and was forced out in 1978 after pursuing a romance with one of Hubbard’s daughters.
Lerma of Arlinton could not be reached for comment Saturday; no one answered his home telephone.
In addition to stopping Lerma’s computer postings, the church is also seeking damages of $100,000 for each of his alleged copyright infringements. Kobrin estimated there were seven separate infringements.