In a major victory for the Church of Scientology, a federal judge said Friday she will bar breakaway Scientology groups from using confidential church teachings that appear to have been stolen.
U.S. District Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer said she will issue a preliminary injunction until a trial can be held on a lawsuit brought by the Church of Scientology against defectors who have established rival churches and counseling centers.
The Church of Scientology contends the teachings are protected by federal trade secrets law.
Pfaelzer, at the end of a two-day hearing in Los Angeles, said the church’s teachings can be construed as trade secrets, based on her reading of federal appellate court decisions.
“You’ve just seen history made,” Joseph A. Yanny, a Scientology attorney, said after the judge’s ruling. “It’s the first time you’ve ever seen a decision that religious Scriptures constitute trade secrets.”
The judge’s remarks were a blow to David Mayo, who once worked closely with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and now runs the largest so-called independent center.
“It (Pfaelzer’s decision) means we could be wiped out pretty damn fast,” said a dejected Mayo, president of the Church of the New Civilization, also known as the Advanced Ability Center, in Santa Barbara.
The suit alleges that Mayo and the others conspired with an ex-Scientologist named Robin Scott to steal top-secret instructional materials from a church branch in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Under questioning by church attorney Earle C. Cooley, Mayo denied receiving any of the stolen materials. He said his own materials, while similar to those offered by the Church of Scientology, were “reconstructed” from memory after he left the church. Mayo said he wrote between 80% to 90% of the materials when he worked as one of the church’s highest theoreticians.
Pfaelzer, however, said a “nexus” had been “very clearly established” at the hearing between a program Mayo offers and one offered by the Church of Scientology--and stolen by Scott in December, 1983. Scott was subsequently convicted in Denmark of a charge comparable to industrial espionage.
“The church material that was stolen is substantially identical in content to that being used by the (Advanced Ability Center),” Pfaelzer said, adding that she was not accusing anyone of “outright theft” of the documents.
During the hearing, Mayo admitted that one of his employees--no longer connected to his center--offered to train two ex-Scientologists at half price in exchange for Church of Scientology documents.
Mayo said, however, that he quashed the deal when he learned that the materials had been stolen.
The documents Scott took are a refinement of Hubbard’s account of Xemu, assertedly an evil tyrant who planted the seeds of aberrant behavior in people 75 million years ago .
According to documents obtained previously by The Times in Los Angeles Superior Court, Hubbard contends that Xemu trapped people in a compound of frozen alcohol and glycol and deposited them in 10 volcanoes. Xemu then dropped nuclear bombs on the volcanoes, according to Hubbard, destroying the people but freeing their spirits, which clustered together and were brainwashed by Xemu.
These clusters, or body thetans, according to Hubbard, attach themselves to people, blocking their path to total freedom. When Scientologists reach a high-level in their training, a level known as “OT 3,” they are taught how to identify thetans and how to purge them from their bodies.
The materials taken by Scott, according to those familiar with the teachings, explain that some body thetans do not respond to “OT 3" processes. At this level, new techniques of identifying and purging body thetans are introduced.
In a telephone interview with The Times from Scotland, Scott said he stole the documents to break the church’s monopoly by offering the materials to independent practitioners who charged less.
The Church of Scientology, at its Florida headquarters, charges $12,100 for the Xemu course. At Mayo’s Advanced Ability Center, $1,500 is charged for his version of the course.
Mayo is one of several former Scientology practitioners named in the suit. Pfaelzer said she would sign the preliminary injunction against them today. No date was set for trial of the case.