Couple accuses Church of Scientology of fraud over building - WFLA News Channel 8

Couple accuses Church of Scientology of fraud over Clearwater building

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Photo by Chris Urso, Tampa Tribune Photo by Chris Urso, Tampa Tribune
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

The Super Power Building of the Church of Scientology is massive, taking up an entire city block in the city of Clearwater.

Workers can be seen going in and out of the building, but a former member of the Church of Scientology says the building is not open and is not being used, despite years of promises.

Louis Garcia is filing a lawsuit in Federal Court, that claims Garcia is the victim of fraud.

Garcia says other Church of Scientology members used high pressure tactics to force him to donate more than $300,000 for the Super Power Building's construction.

Garcia says, "The tactics are a complete and constant grinding. In other words they would never take no for an answer."

At one point the former Scientologist says he was told he must donate $65,000 to purchase and install a cross for the top of the building. Garcia says he was told it was a matter of life and death that the cross be installed that day. Instead he says, "And now I know certain individuals who donated for that same purpose, for that same cross."

Garcia's attorney, Theodore Babbitt says, "You can't tell people they are making a donation in order to open a building when you've already collected twice the amount to open it, that's not a true statement. It's getting money under false pretenses."

Babbitt says this lawsuit is only the beginning. He says he has been contacted by a number of other former members who say they endured similar tactics from Scientology.

Babbitt claims the real purpose of the Super Power Building is as a tool to raise money. Babbitt says he also intends to prove that Scientologists claimed they were seeking donations to help people in Africa, and were developing programs to end child pornography -- claims that Babbitt says are untrue. Babbitt says, "It's false and deceptive advertising. It's false and deceptive actions that are actionable."

In response to an inquiry from WFLA-TV, a Church of Scientology spokesperson emailed saying, "The Church has not been served and has no comment. 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."

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