Lifestyle & Belief

Scientology members sue church (VIDEO)


Church of Scientology in Clearwater, Florida.


Paul J. Richards

Two former Scientology members are suing the church, claiming it deceived members into donating millions to misrepresented causes.

Luis and Maria Garcia of Irvine, California, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Tampa, Florida, near the church's national headquarters in Clearwater, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

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The couple claims the $420,000 they donated for a building campaign, disaster relief efforts and other Scientology causes went instead into the church coffers and the pockets of leader David Miscavige, The Associated Press reported.

A Scientologist since 1982, Luis Garcia told WFTS he became suspicious when, after an urgent request for money, the building project kept getting delayed.

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Church spokeswoman Pat Harney told the Tampa Bay Times it had no comment on the lawsuit.

"However, we understand from media inquiries this has something to do with fundraising, and we can unequivocally state all funds solicited are used for the charitable and religious purposes for which they were donated," she said.

The couple's attorney, Ted Babbitt, told WTSP this is only the first of many lawsuits planned.

Luis and Maria Garcia left the Church of Scientology in November 2010.