Scientology forks over phone numbers to federal judge, who puts his foot down again - 2017-05-20
On May 1, Tampa federal Judge James Whittemore gave the Church of Scientology just ten days to turn over the phone numbers and occupations of 500 Los Angeles-area Scientologists whose names the church had previously turned in to the court under seal. It's been more than a week since that deadline passed, and now we have evidence that the church did comply.
We learned that the church met the deadline from a footnote in a new order that Judge Whittemore issued Thursday, in which he reinforced just how much he's taken control of a case that has fascinated us since it was first filed as a federal fraud lawsuit by a California couple, Luis and Rocio Garcia, back in January 2013.
The Garcias say they were lied to and defrauded by the church in order to convince them to turn over hundreds of thousands of dollars for a building project. But in 2015 Judge Whittemore ruled that membership contracts signed by the Garcias required them to submit their grievances to an internal Scientology arbitration process, and he stayed the lawsuit. Since then the Garcias and the church have been unable to agree on a set of three arbitrators to hear the matter, who according to Scientology must be church members in good standing. Whittemore became fed up with the two sides fighting over the process and decided to step in. He asked Scientology to submit an application that would give him the power to choose the arbitrators, and ordered the church to turn over the list of 500 Scientologists.