Reclusive Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard Ordered to Appear for Questions
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, not seen in public since 1980, has been ordered by a judge to appear this month and answer questions as part of a lawsuit filed by the organization.
Hubbard, 72, has not appeared in public since he left the church’s compound in Gilman Hot Springs in 1980.
U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real ordered the church to bring Hubbard to a Los Angeles law office on March 20 to give a deposition.
The ruling Monday stemmed from the Church of Scientology’s federal civil suit against lawyer Michael J. Flynn, a long-time litigant against the church.
The civil suit contends Flynn defamed the organization in June 1983 by accusing Scientology members of putting water in his airplane’s gas tank in a sabotage attempt.
Flynn represents more than a dozen former Scientologists who have sued the church, alleging fraud and claiming they did not receive the ″spiritual enlightment″ they expected.
Church lawyers argued unsuccessfully in court that before Real could order Hubbard to give a statement, he would have to find that Hubbard is ″a managing agent″ of the church.
The church contends Hubbard resigned all his positions in the church in 1966 and no longer controls the international organization and its various corporations.
In 1983, Hubbard’s son, Ron DeWolf, unsuccessfully asked Riverside County Superior Court to declare Hubbard dead and give him his father’s copyright priveleges.
″Mr. Hubbard is his own man, and the church doesn’t control him at all,″ said the Rev. Heber Jentzsch, president of Church of Scientology International.
Jentzsch said Friday that church attorneys would seek an expedited hearing on the suit Monday, and would argue again that ordering them to produce Hubbard is useless.
″The judge ruled that he (Hubbard) is in control of the corporations,″ Flynn said, adding that he could win dismissal of the case if Hubbard fails to appear.
Hubbard, a science fiction writer, and his wife, Mary Sue Hubbard, founded the church in 1954. He wrote the Scientology doctrine, ″Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health,″ which has sold millions of copies.
In its suit, the church alleged that Flynn told a group of Scientologists that his plane experienced trouble on Oct. 19, 1979, shortly after he had rejected the church’s offer to settle one of his clients’ lawsuits. Four people, including his 11-year-old son, were in the Cessna 206 on a flight to South Bend, Ind., Flynn said.
According to transcripts provided by the church, Flynn said: ″I was an hour and a half into the flight and we lost power entirely and we made an emergency landing. They then drained off quarts of water from my fuel tank.″