Various interesting reports from Florida news stations regarding:
Lisa McPherson Coverage Mirror of defunct LMT site (soon to be on Mike Gormez site)
Newscast June 12, 2000 Scientology managed to get the criminal charges in the McPherson case dismissed. State Attorney Bernie McCabe backed down and dropped the charges after the change of heart from medical examiner Joan Wood. ---
Bay News 9 - Tampa Bay News Station Title:Criminal Charges Dropped Pinellas/Pasco County
Woman News Anchor: The Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization is no longer facing criminal charges in the death of one of it's members. The case was dropped by Pinellas/Pasco State Attorneys Office prosecutors on Monday. Bay News 9 Greg Davis tells us why.
Picture of Legal Case Papers - State of Florida vs. Church of Scientology Footage of the Fort Harrison Hotel Picture of Legal Case Papers charging church on two counts Footage of Mike Rinder (from Church of Scientology)
Greg Davis: The high profile criminal case against theChurch of Scientology Flag Service Organization is over before the trial ever started. The church organization, but no specific members was charged with one count of abuse and/or neglect of a disabled person and one count of practicing medicine without a license. Both charges were dropped Monday. Mike Rinder is a spokesman for the Church of Scientology.
Mike Rinder: People have to suffer with the statements that are being made, accusing them of having done something, uh, to hurt one of their fellow Scientologists and nobody did anything that or, ever would do anything to hurt another Scientologist.
Picture of Lisa McPherson Footage of the Scientologists and bus at the Fort Harrison Hotel Footage of people picketing Church of Scientology in Clearwater Picture of Lisa McPherson Footage of the Fort Harrison Hotel Picture of Legal Case Papers - State of Florida vs. Church of Scientology News Picture - "Charges Dropped"
Greg Davis (Voiceover): The charges stem from the 1995 death of church member Lisa McPherson. She died at the Fort Harrison Hotel. McPherson's relatives and vocal critics of the church organization say she died because she did nor receive proper medical care. Court records show the medical examiner originally shared that opinion. Leading the Pinellas/Pasco State Attorneys Office to file the criminal charges. But the medical examiner recently changed her opinion about the cause of death. In court documents filed Monday, the Assistant State Attorney prosecuting the case dropped the charges because of the quote, "inability to prove critical forensic and causation issues beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt, as a consequence of the medical examiner's change of opinion."
Footage of people participating in a vigil - walking, holding candles and pictuure of Lisa McPherson Footage of the Fort Harrison Hotel
Greg Davis (Voiceover): Lisa McPerson's relatives have filed a civil wrongful death suit against the church organization. Now that the criminal charges have been dropped, attorneys for McPherson's estate say they hope to begin their civil case against the church organization by the end of the year. In Clearwater, Greg Davis, Bay News 9.
Woman News Anchor: The attorney for Lisa McPherson's relatives say the dropping of criminal charges has no bearing on their civil case against the church of Scientology. The Pinella/Pasco State Attorneys Office did not return our phone call for comment.
Channel 10 News Report -
"Criminal Charges Dropped"
Man News Anchor: ...thankful that they say the truth about Lisa McPherson's death is finally coming out. That reaction today after State prosecutors dropped criminal charges against the church. But as 10 News reporter Kathryn Bursch explains, not everyone is convinced prosecuters did the right thing.
Footage of a vigil - people walking, holding candles and pictures of Lisa McPherson with the sound of bagpipes playing
Kathryn Bursch (Voiceover): Vigils in her memory may take place in Clearwater but Lisa McPherson's death sparked a widespread controversy.
Mike Rinder: Because it was hurtful for alot of people. Alot of people that were her...
Footage of Mike Rinder and News Anchorwoman Picture of Lisa McPherson Footage of the Fort Harrison Hotel Footage of people inside of the Pinellas County Courthouse Footage of the Fort Harrison Hotel
Kathryn Bursch (Voiceover): Mike Rinder, a Church of Scientology official calls McPherson's death in 1995 a tragic accident. But police and prosecutors thought differently. McPherson died after being in the care of Scientologists at the Fort Harrison Hotel. And Pinellas prosecutors charged the church with practicing medicine without a license, and abusing a disabled adult. However today, those charges were abruptly dropped. The church members feel exhonerated.
Mike Rinder: The simplicity of it is, there is no case. The case is dropped. We're very happy about that.
Kathryn Bursch (walking in the courthouse): In paperwork filed with the court, prosecutors say they dropped the charges not because they no longer believe in their case, but because they can no longer prove it to a jury. So what torpedoed the prosecutions case? Well, back in Feburary medical examiner Joan Wood changed her mind and ruled McPherson's death accidental.
Footage of Jeff Jacobsen typing on a computer Footage of Jeff Jacobsen talking with Kathryn Bursch Picture of Jeff Jacobsen's website, "Lisa McPherson Memorial Page" with a picture of Lisa McPherson Footage of Jeff Jacobsen talking with Kathryn Bursch
Kathryn Bursch (Voiceover): But critics of the church maintain McPherson's death was far from accidental. Jeff Jacobsen created a website about McPherson, and he vows to keep questioning the church and it's actions.
Jeff Jacobsen: If they would rely on common sense instead of what Hubbard said, Lisa McPherson would be alive today.
Footage of computer with Jeff Jacobsen's website page with picture of Lisa McPherson titled "Lisa McPherson Walking With The Angels Picture of Lisa McPherson
Kathryn Bursch (Voiceover):McPherson died 5 years ago. The controversy lives on. In Clearwater, Kathryn Bursch, 10 News.
Man News Anchor: A civil lawsuit brought by McPherson's family against the church is still pending. It's unclear what impact the days developments will have on that case.
Channel 28 Tampa Bay News Report - Now @ 11:00
News Anchor Bob Kendrick: ...After years of stating their innocence, Scientologists are cleared of all criminal charges in the death of one of the churches members. Lisa McPherson died under their care in 1995 and since then the church of Scientology has fought to prove that her death was an accident. For the first time in five years, the state agrees. 28 Tampa Bay Stacy Phillips is joining us now with the latest. Stacy what changed their mind?
News Anchor Stacy Phillips: Well Bob, the State Attorneys Office dropped this investigation just months after a key piece of evidence was changed. A Pinella County medial examiner anended McPherson's death certificate. Now it appears her death was an accident.
Pictures of Lisa McPherson
Mike Rinder: The Scientologists, particularly those that, that knew Lisa and what her friends, uh, have had to endure alot I'm sure that their all relieved that they no longer have to have that, sitting out there and that they've been exonerated.
Footage of Fort Harrison Hotel Picture of Lisa McPherson Footage of the Pinellas County Medical Examiners Office Picture of a Certiciate of Death Pictures of Lisa McPherson Picture of Fort Harrison Hotel
Stacy Phillips (Voiceover): And so is the Church of Scientology. In 1995 Lisa McPherson died after being under the care of Scientologist for 17 days. Originally, Lisa's death certificate stated that actions by church members led to her death. Several years later, medical examiner Joan Wood changed her mind. The cause was then ruled accidental. This in part led to the charges against the church being dropped.
Footage of Fort Harrison Hotel
Mike Rinder: I think people now are going to see that the things that are being said, uh, alot of those allegations that were sort of floating around then and, would be picked up by people uh, they'll know then look at them and go, what?,probably that wasn't true.
Footage of People Picketing Scientology in Clearwater
Stacy Phillips (Voiceover): Criminal charges may have been dropped but the church still faces charges from it's critics. Most notably, the Lisa McPherson Trust.
Jeff Jacobsen: It's just one step in the process of trying to educate the public and trying to get the church to stop hurting people like this, uh. Lisa is still dead. Lisa was still hurt and we're going to let people know that.
Footage of People Picketing Scientology in Clearwater Footage of Jeff Jacobsen sitting at a desk
Stacy Phillips (Voiceover): The McPherson Trust is primarily made up of former Church of Scientology members. Jacobsen claims Lisa is just one victim.
Jeff Jacobsen: It's sad that the prosecutor drops such weak charges in the first place but, uh, the evidence is still there and the truth will rule out in the end.
Stacy Phillips: There's still an active wrongful death suit that was filed by Lisa's aunt after her death. The church claims she filed that originally to find out the truth behind Lis's death, not for money. And now that the record sstates it's an accident, they hoe she drops the case. But those at the (Lisa McPherson) Trust, say that's not likely, Bob.
News Anchor Bob Kendrick: Well Stacy, officials now say with the church that the criminal charges have been dropped, more energy can be devoted to the church. Meantime, organizers with the McPherson Trust say they will continue to protest the church practices.
Channel 13 - first On Fox
Woman News Anchor : ...they will not press charges for the 1995 death of parishioner, Lisa McPherson. But as Fox 13 Giselle Guerra shows us now, McPherson's family are still going ahead with their civil suit.
Pictures of Lisa McPherson Picture of the Church of Scientology
Giselle Guerra (Voiceover): December 5, 1995 when Lisa McPherson's wide smile vanished. She died, many say in part thanks to the church she belonged to while in their care. The Church of Scientology.
Jeff Jacobsen: I think the church got away with hurting Lisa McPherson, and they get away scott-free without any uh, criminal damages on their part.
Footage of the Forst Harrison Hotel Pictures from Medical Examiners Report Footage of Medical Examiner Joan Wood appearing on Inside Edition Picture of Lisa McPherson
Giselle Guerra (Voiceover): The Pinellas/Pasco StatesAttorneys office led the crusade, accusing the chuerch of practicing medicine without a license, and neglect of an incapacitated person. They base their case largely on the medical examiners expert opinion. Dr. Joan Wood, here in a nationwide interview on Inside Edition, where she delivered her opinion of what happened to the 36 year old Scientologist.
Joan Wood: From at the time that Lisa McPherson died, backwards - 24, 48 hours, she was unconscious.
Pictures from Medical Examiners Report Picture of Lisa McPherson Picture of the Church of Scientology
Giselle Guerra (Voiceover): In Febraury, Dr. Wood reversed herself, basically tieing McPherson's death to a traffic accident days before. Prosecutors blasted the move saying Woods credibility is compromised because of what they call her inability to coherently explain her decision. Her serious forensic error and her illogical and inconsistent justification. That, prosecutors say cut the legs off their case. And they dropped all their charges against the church.
Mike Rinder: Many of the, the allegations that this prosecution was based on, we knew were not true. We knew that they were groundlesss. That's why we had to spend so much time now getting the scientific evidence.
Footage of Giselle Guerra standing in front of the Fort Harrison Hotel
Giselle Guerra (Standing in front of the Fort Harrison Hotel): Now the Church of Scientology claims a victory with this but attorney Ken Dandar says "not so fast." There is still a civil case to contend with.
Picture of Ken Dandar with caption "On The Phone"
Ken Dandar (On the Phone): In fact, if I were the prosecutor I'll raise this and their shameful, I do not answer to any political power. I am totally independent. And I can't wait to take this case to trial.
Picture of Courthouse Picture of window at the Fort Harrison Hotel
Giselle Guerra (Voiceover): The church says it expects McPherson's aunt to drop that civil lawsuit, still pending.
Mike Rinder: If she had uh, had any decency at this point, she would drop that case and allow this to be put into the past and let Lisa's memory now rest.
Picture of the Fort Harrison Hotel Picture of Lisa McPherson
Giselle Guerra (Voiceover): Believers say they can put this to rest. Skeptics say what really happened inside the Fort Harrison Hotel, vanished with Lisa McPherson.
Woman News Anchor: Dandar says he still has some depositions to take before the case goes to court. He says he has no intention of dropping the McPherson families case against the church.
Channel 8 News
Picture of Lisa McPherson Picture of the Fort Harrison Hotel Footage of Joan Wood Pictures of Lisa McPherson
Woman News Anchor: A major victory for the Church of Scientology this morning. State Prosecutors have dropped the criminal charges against the church. Those charges came in response to the 1995 death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson. McPherson died after 17 days in the care of Scientologists at the churches world headquarters in Clearwater. The medical examiner recently altered her autopsy report. Now prosecutors say that wrecks their case. Church leaders praise prosecutors for dropping the charges.
Mike Rinder: And, I think that this marks the point where we can move forward and in a atmosphere of trust and an atmosphere where uh, something like this can never happen again because, there isn't any sort of mutual distrust.
Woman News Anchor: Lisa McPherson's aunt vows to press on with a civil suit filed against the church. Dell Liebreich tells News Channel 8 quote, "I'll fight'em to the end."