Thursday 9 June 2011

Australian Police Charge Top Scientologist

Update: April 2012

Charges dropped by the prosecutors. For more information see Tony Ortega´s round-up at Village Voice.

A high-profile Scientologist has appeared in an Australian court on a charge of perverting the course of justice.

Jan Eastgate, president of a group Scientology co-founded to expose psychiatric abuse, appeared in an Australian court Thursday accused of having covered up child abuse.

On May 26, police in Sydney arrested and charged 57-year-old Eastgate with perverting the course of justice.

Investigators accuse her of having helped cover up the sexual abuse of an 11-year-old girl by her step-father back in 1985.

“Police will allege the woman threatened and intimidated the 11-year-old into providing false statements to police to change the focus of an investigation,” said a statement from the New South Wales force last month.

At Downing Centre Local Court, Sydney, Jan Eastgate, also known as Jan Meyer, was granted bail conditions that will permit her to return to the United States, where she is based, until the next court date in August.

Eastgate lives in Los Angeles, where she works as the international president of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR).

The investigation, arrest and charging of Eastgate appears to have arisen following information supplied by a former Scientologist to Independent Senator Nick Xenophon.

For 18 months now, Xenophon has been campaigning for tighter regulation of Scientology.

The woman at the centre of the allegations, together with her mother, went public with the story in interviews with Australian television in May last year.

Eastgate declined to be interviewed at that time but in a statement to the programme denied the allegation as “egregiously false”. Scientology also issued a statement to the programme dismissing the claims as “untrue and defamatory”.

The next hearing has been set for August 18.