Documents Returned to Church of Scientology
TORONTO (AP) _ The Church of Scientology said Tuesday that a judge had ordered the return to the group of more than 2 million documents seized nine years ago in a legal battle.
James Southey, the Ontario justice, ruled Monday that authorities could no longer keep the records, seized by police investigating tax-fraud allegations.
The more than 850 boxes contained books, religious documents, management files and so-called ″confessional folders″ with intimate details about members, said church spokesperson Al Buttnor.
Police said some the files contained records from government and medical agencies.
Southey prohibited media from reporting the reason for the return of the documents.
The struggle over the records has delayed trials for 10 church members charged with various offenses, including theft and possession of stolen documents. No trial date has been set.
The Los Angles-based church, started by the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard more than 30 years ago, claims more than 7 million members. The church’s detractors put the global membership at about 50,000.
Critics have alleged the church intimidates members and uses tax-exempt status to shield a network of profit-making companies. The church last year began a $3 million ad campaign against Time magazine after it ran an article critical of Scientology.