Scientologist appears in Sydney court

AAP/June 16, 2011

A senior member of the Church of Scientology accused of coaching a child to lie about sex abuse has had her bail relaxed so she can travel to California.

Janice Meyer, 57, was surrounded by supporters today as she made her first court appearance in Sydney's Downing Centre Local court.

She is charged with doing an act intending to pervert the course of justice in 1985 in Sydney.

The allegation involves threatening and intimidating an 11-year-old girl, causing her to give false information to investigating police about being abused by a Scientologist.

Meyer was granted conditional police bail on her arrest last month, but her lawyer Stuart Bouveng asked for her to have unconditional bail.

He said the allegation came to light in an ABC television show in May last year, when his client was living in California.

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She voluntarily returned to Sydney last month and saw police with her lawyer.

However, Mr Bouveng said two of her bail conditions mean she is banned from travel and was unable to go interstate to visit her elderly parents in Melbourne.

Meyer, an Australian citizen, has lived in the US since 1993 and "has a significant business and employs a number of employees in California", Mr Bouveng said.

She holds a position with the Citizen's Commission on Human Rights, an organisation founded by the Church of Scientology that campaigns against psychiatry.

Mr Bouveng said she has a mortgage, holds a Green Card that is valid until 2019 and has travelled back to Australia several times a year since 1993.

"There is no evidence at all that your honour would have any fears she would not show up at court," he said.

The police prosecutor asked for some security to be imposed, saying the conduct alleged involved "a gross breach of trust".

Magistrate Graeme Henson noted Meyer had no criminal record, has been in and out of Australia a number of times and voluntarily went to police.

But he was "mindful of the fact that the defendant has the capacity to leave this country and not return".

He lifted the travel ban but ordered Meyer to agree to forfeit $10,000 if she did not turn up to court.

The matter was adjourned to August 18.

When Meyer left court, she was encircled by her many supporters, some of whom jostled with the waiting media as her picture was taken.

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