BEHIND THE NEWS: SCIENTOLOGISTS VS. JUDGE RICHEY - 1980-08-31
The bitter and bizarre feud between the federal government and the Church of Scientology took a startling turn last month when U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey removed himself from presiding over a pending criminal trial of two members of the church. Richey claimed the defendants and their attorneys had engaged in "groundless and relentless" attacks on him. Presumably one of those attacks was a charge -- reported by columnist Jack Anderson -- that Richey purchased the services of a prostitute while in California to hear one aspect of the government's case against the Scientologists.
Richey would not comment on the report.
Behind the story of the Anderson column and Richey's decision was an elaborately staged undercover operation by a local private investigator, Dick Bast. Bast was hired by the Scientologists to learn, among other things, if the judge -- who last December sentenced some members of the church to prison for breaking into government offices to steal documents -- was predisposed to rule against the defendants because of a personal dislike for Scientologists. Along the way, Bast learned about the alleged liaison between Richey and a prostitute.