Scientologists awarded half a million dollars in suit against critic
The Church of Scientology sued former church official Gerry Armstrong for $10 million, saying he had violated a 1986 legal settlement by repeatedly speaking out against the group and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. (Armstrong got $800,000 from the religious group in that settlement after he claimed he was being bullied by Scientology officials.)
Marin Superior Court Judge Lynn Duryee didn't award punitive damages, but ordered Armstrong to give back the settlement money.
"Because a previous judgment had already awarded the church $300,000 from Armstrong—who cited bankruptcy and did not pay it—Duryee ordered the defendant to pay the church another $500,000, or equal the amount the church had paid him," the Marin Independent Journal reports.
Armstrong says he still2/17/2005 1:44PM won't pay. "Never," he said. "I will outlast them." He also promises to keep criticizing Scientology. "When you can silence someone about a religion, just imagine," he said.
Armstrong's lawyer says Judge Duryee "made a deal with the devil," and said the case isn't really about Armstrong's 1986 settlement. "This suit is really directed at other people who might be inclined to speak out," he told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's a PR ploy to keep other people silent."
Scientology officials want Armstrong imprisoned.
"This wasn't contempt of the church, this was contempt of the court," lawyer Andrew Wilson told the paper. "He needs to be put in jail not because he spoke out but because he thumbed his nose at the court."
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