Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology,
Subject: AP NEWS: Scientologists Charged in Death
From: (Just Wog)
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 23:34:43 GMT

Scientologists Charged in Death


CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) -- The Church of Scientology was charged Friday in the 1995 death of a member whose family claimed the church held her against her will for 17 days.

Prosecutor Bernie McCabe charged the church with abuse or neglect of a disabled adult and practicing medicine without a license, both felonies.

Lisa McPherson, 36, died Dec. 5, 1995, after being under the 24-hour care of fellow church members at the church's Fort Harrison Hotel. She had been taken there to recover from a mental breakdown, but records indicated she was in good physical condition.

An autopsy showed she died of an embolism, or blood vessel blockage, in her left lung caused by ``bed rest and severe dehydration.''

Ms. McPherson went without fluids for at least five to 10 days and possibly her entire stay at the hotel, Medical Examiner Joan Wood said.

Church officials have said that the investigation is part of a 15-year effort by Clearwater officials to discredit Scientology. Church lawyers said they would issue a statement later Friday.

Church officials say Ms. McPherson was well cared for by church members but became violent and incoherent, had trouble sleeping and frequently resisted efforts to give her food, liquids and medications.

Church officials said she grew weak, lost weight and suddenly fell ill. Staffers said they drove her to a nearby hospital where an emergency room doctor is a Scientologist. She was pronounced dead 20 minutes later.

Police recommended last December that charges be filed.

``The family wants justice,'' said Ken Dandar, the McPherson family lawyer. ``They're happy that criminal charges have been filed because, finally now, they believe criminal justice can take place and show this was a preventable death.''

Ms. McPherson's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit seeking unspecified damages against the church.

Copyright 1998 Associated Press Information Services, all rights reserved.