From: firstname.lastname@example.org (David Sternlight)
Subject: Article on the CoS Raid (Glendale News-Press)
Reply-To: email@example.com (David Sternlight)
Date: Wed, 15 Feb 1995 22:10:41 GMT
Xref: senator-bedfellow.mit.edu alt.activism:85892 alt.censorship:39599 alt.conspiracy:78937 alt.current-events.net-abuse:19430 alt.law-enforcement:14478 alt.mindcontrol:2089 alt.recovery.religion:2862 alt.religion.christian:19478 alt.society.civil-liberty:26887 alt.society.mental-health:501 alt.support.ex-cult:571 comp.org.eff.talk:45857 misc.legal:120848 misc.legal.computing:11621 news.admin.misc:32934 sci.psychology:36399
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Forwarded with permission:
Date: Wed, 15 Feb 95 12:02:17 -0800
Subject: Cos story
Per your request, here is a copy of the Glendale News-Press article on the
Scientology raid (the word "raid" came from the church's press release).
As stated at the end of the article, permission to publish electronically on
the Internet is granted by the Glendale News-Press.
Scientologists raid house, seize files
Sect wants Glendale man
booted off info highway
By Elyssa Getreu
and Steven Rosenberg
Representatives of the Church of Scientology and its attorney
raided a Glendale man's home Monday to seize what they claim
are cop's teachings.
Armed with a civil writ of seizure issued by a Federal Court
judge, a group of Scientologists, their attorney, private security
officers and a Glendale police officer entered the home of
Glendale resident Dennis Erlich, 48, at 7:30 a.m.
The group, which included a computer expert from the Church
of Scientology, proceeded to copy and delete thousands of pages
worth of material from Erlich's home computer and seize 365
computer floppy disks and dozens of Scientology books.
A former Scientology minister, Erlich is now an active critic of
the movement, deeming it a cult group.
The controversy erupted in recent months on the Internet's
alt.religion.scientology group, part of a worldwide computer
bulletin board, when Erlich began posting material on the
network that Scientology lawyer Thomas Small believes to be
copyrighted by the church.
Most of Erlich's messages consisted of quotes from Scientology
teachings along with his critique of the material.
The messages are read by tens of thousands of computer users
who have access to the alt.religion.scientology group on the
Internet's USENET system, which also include subscribers to the
America Online, Prodigy and Compuserve networks.
Due to Erlich's alleged broadcasting of copyrighted material,
Small and members of his law firm have been pressuring
Internet service providers to kick the Glendale man off of the
information superhighway by terminating his computer account.
Along with the writ of seizure issued on Friday by U.S. District
Judge Ronald Whyte, Erlich was served with a lawsuit by two
Scientology organizations, the Religious Technology Center and
Bridge Publications, ordering him to cease his Internet activities
and seeking $100,000 in damages.
Church attorney Helena Kobrin said Erlich knowingly disobeyed
copyright law by posting the Scientology material on the
`He was informed he was violating the law and refused to do
anything about it,'' Kobrin said.
`This could have been handled without a seizure, but he brought
this upon himself by his deliberate disregard of the law,'' she
Erlich claims he has a right to distribute the material as a former
Kobrin countered Erlich's claim, saying that right is reserved by
the church itself.
`He may at one time have been a minister, but he hasn't been a
church member for at least 15 years and the materials that he
has been posting are confidential . . . they can only be gotten
through theft or misappropriation,'' Kobrin said.
Erlich claims the information he was quoting in his USENET
messages was already present in the Internet system, posted by
an anonymous source.
`I'm just reposting what was already on there,'' Erlich said.
`I'm posting these so that people are warned (about
Erlich also questioned the legality of the search and seizure
which was conducted by members of the church without a U.S.
Erlich also points to the typed writ of seizure, which was altered
in pen to allow `other law enforcement officers'' instead of the
federal marshals to conduct the search as one of the questionable
aspects of the action.
Besides the GPD officer, the Scientology representatives were
accompanied by two off-duty Inglewood police officers working
for the private security firm RJS Consultants.
`I know my rights have been violated,'' Erlich said.
`I've never been raped, but I imagine this is what is feels like --
my house has been broken into and everything was examined,''
Erlich said the hard disk drive on his computer and his
Microsoft Windows operating system were not functioning after
the seizure. During the search, about 100 files were deleted from
his personal computer.
`Scientology doesn't care about rights,'' said Erlich, a Glendale
native. `When they find a critic, they go after them.''
According to Chahe Keuroghelian, spokesman for the Glendale
Police Department, the patrol sergeant who assisted in executing
the search said the writ of seizure appeared to be a valid
Keuroghelian said the Glendale officer's role in the search was
as `keeper of the peace.''
`Our officers are not there to act as judges,'' he said.
Tom Klemesrud, who operates the local computer bulletin board
system Erlich uses to access the Internet, also questioned the
legality of Monday's search.
Klemesrud and Netcom On-Line Communications Services Inc.,
which provides the connection between his bulletin board system
and the Internet, have also been named in the lawsuit.
Both Klemesrud and Netcom have been pressured by lawyers to
drop Erlich from the Internet.
`They refused to provide me with proof of copyright. If they
had, I would have deleted (the material) and talked to Dennis
(Erlich) about it,'' Klemesrud said.
`Everything I've seen has been quotes coming from an
anonymous source,'' Klemesrud said, `I never saw Dennis put
on original material.''
`It's a stunning affront on First Amendment rights by a vile and
dangerous cult masquerading as a religion,'' said Klemesrud,
operator, or `sysop,'' of the Los Angeles Valley College
Computer Bulletin Board System.
`If they come to me, they'd better come with a federal
marshal,'' Klemesrud said.
Attorney Small declined to comment on whether Klemesrud will
be served with a search warrant in the civil case.
Small said Erlich's alleged infringment of copyright laws places
the right to free and open discussion on the information
superhighway in jeopardy.
`Internet is an invaluable and open forum of free discussion and
information exchange,'' Small said. `But with freedom comes
`The vast majority of those who use the Internet abide by the
law and respect the rights of others,'' Small said.
In support of their case, Small and Kobrin cite a 1994 injunction
issued against Internet user Chad Scherman and the `Maphia''
bulletin board service after evidence showed that unauthorized
program copies of Sega video games had been uploaded onto the
Klemesrud, however, thinks the law is unclear regarding Erlich's
text-only messages: `They're citing binary (program) file cases -
- - this is an whole new realm in that it is text files and written
Klemesrud's bulletin board receives 400 calls per day from its
800 active users, he said. It has been used by over 4,000
computer owners who can send and receive Internet E-mail and
participate in about 900 USENET newsgroups, including
alt.religion.scientology, through the system.
The bulletin board, which began as a class project, is now
maintained by Klemesrud as a hobby and is no longer affiliated
with the community college.
Among the bulletin board's users are a few anti-Scientology
activists and about 50 Scientologists, Klemesrud estimates.
A number of News-Press staff members also have accounts on
Klemesrud says Scientologists started cyberspace combat with
Erlich's alt.religion.scientology messages by electronically
cancelling them -- a technique that only works on certain
portions of the Internet network.
`This isn't childish hacking, this is a federal crime: U.S. Code
2701 -- interfering with data in storage,'' Klemesrud said.
Klemesrud said that Netcom was instrumental in stopping the
messages from being cancelled. He says Scientologists also tried
to electronically remove the entire alt.religion.scientology group
from the Internet, but were unsuccessful.
`Their new strategy is going after each and every sysop who
carries alt.religion.scientology,'' Klemesrud said.
In a letter to plaintiff's attorney Kobrin, Netcom attorney
Michael Sullivan said Netcom should not be held liable `to
investigate each allegation of infringement by each subscriber to
each of the bulletin boards that subscribe to its Internet access
The Netcom attorney claims cutting off Klemesrud's access to
its service is unreasonable because it would deprive all of the
LAVC Bulletin Board's subscribers of access to the Internet.
Sullivan said Netcom is prepared to defend its position in court.
Erlich does not yet have an attorney.
The parties to the suit are scheduled to appear in the U.S.
District Court in San Jose on Feb. 21.
***Permission to reprint this article on the Internet
granted by the Glendale News-Press***
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