Church Again Stalls Release Of Photos

St. Petersburg Times, July 7, 2000

CLEARWATER -- The Church of Scientology has again blocked the release of autopsy photos of Scientologist Lisa McPherson.

In a motion filed Thursday, the church asked Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Crockett Farnell to reconsider two previous rulings this week in which he cleared the photos for public release. The motion prompted the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office to delay the release for the second time this week.

It was the third time Scientology has successfully kept the records secret since June 12, when prosecutors dropped two criminal charges against the church in McPherson's death.

The church argues the photos, if released, would damage its right to a fair trial in a wrongful death lawsuit, pending in Tampa, filed in 1997 by McPherson's estate. It says Farnell has not heard enough evidence to make a decision and suggested an "alternative remedy" such as allowing the public to view the photos without reproducing them for general distribution.

The St. Petersburg Times, one of several media companies seeking access to the photos, also filed a pleading Thursday, calling the church's motion frivolous.

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