Scientology critic accused of threats
Prosecutors in Hemet say the Palo Alto resident made the threats on the
Internet and while picketing.
By Karin Marriott and Jose Arballo Jr.
September 16, 2000
[photo caption: Palo Alto resident Keith Henson, 58, talked with San Jacinto motorist Nonda Houston in May after she stopped to find out about Henson's protest on Gilman Springs Road. He said he was protesting the death of Ashlee Shaner, a 16-year-old girl who was killed when the vehicle she was in collided with a tractor that was doing work for the Church of Scientology's Golden Era Productions. (David Bauman / The Press-Enterprise)] A frequent critic of the Church of Scientology has been charged with making terrorist threats against the group on the Internet and at its San Jacinto facilities. Prosecutors allege Palo Alto resident Keith Henson, 58, made the threats against the church earlier this year on an anti-Scientology Internet site, then made threatening statements overheard by a security guard while picketing at the church's Golden Era Productions facility on Gilman Springs Road. Henson faces up to a year in county jail if he is convicted of the misdemeanor charge. Henson requested Friday that his arraignment in Hemet Superior Court be continued for 10 days. In turn, Deputy District Attorney Robert Schwarz asked Judge Albert Wojcik to order Henson to stay away from the Golden Era facility and those church employees named as victims in the criminal complaint, at least until the arraignment. Wojcik, in a terse exchange with the church critic, ordered Henson to stay 300 yards away from the Golden Era facility. Golden Era General Manager Ken Hoden, who was at Henson's arraignment hearing, said he was pleased the district attorney is filing charges against Henson. Hoden, who declined to elaborate on Henson's comments, said church employees found the alleged threats posted on the Internet and forwarded them to authorities. Hoden said Henson also made verbal threats while picketing at the studio. Henson, who has picketed Golden Era and other Scientology facilities across the nation, resumed picketing at the San Jacinto facility in May after a 16-year-old girl was killed in a road collision with a tractor that was doing work for the studio. A month later, a 20-year-old woman working for Golden Era was electrocuted when she slipped in an underground vault at the facility. Authorities ruled the death an accident. Henson said he believes Scientology is responsible for the accidents. Graham Berry, Henson's attorney who has litigated against Scientology for more than 10 years, said various people made postings on the Web site, altreligionscientology.com, "in connection with joking remarks about munitions and the church." Henson did not initiate the postings, Berry said, but did make comments that were "not in any way intended to be inflammatory." In 1998, Golden Era went to court to bar Henson from picketing at the facility. A temporary restraining order was issued, but a judge later ruled that Henson was entitled to picket outside the church's complex. Henson is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 25. Jose Arballo Jr. can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (909) 487-2275 ext. 229. Karin Marriott can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (909) 487-2275, ext. 230. http://www.inlandempireonline.com/news/stories/091600/bust16.shtml