Protester sues Church of Scientology's Nashville center

Man alleges guard pushed him to ground

The Tennessean/October 30, 2009

A Murfreesboro man has filed a $6 million lawsuit against the Church of Scientology's Nashville celebrity center claiming that guards hired by the church assaulted him while he was staging a protest.

Thomas A. Parker and other members of an anti-Scientology group called Anonymous planned to protest the center's grand opening on April 25.

Parker and others were walking down Eighth Avenue South, when two off-duty Spring Hill police officers, hired as security guards by the church, confronted them, the suit alleges. Parker claims he was pushed to the ground. He claims to have suffered injuries to his left shoulder, elbows and knees.

Charges dropped

According to the suit, Parker was arrested for aggravated criminal trespass. The charge was later dismissed.

Brian Fesler, spokesman for the Church of Scientology, said he was unaware of the lawsuit and had no comment.

The incident occurred on a sidewalk about 450 yards away and across the street from the Scientology center at 1130 Eighth Ave. S., said Nathaniel Koenig, Parker's lawyer.

Koenig said his client had every right to peacefully protest the Scientology event.

"I didn't know that walking down a public street in Nashville was a crime," said Koenig. "I have nothing against the Church of Scientology. I don't care. This is not attacking them as a religion. This is all about their attack on my client and his constitutional rights."

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