The history: A timeline

St. Petersburg Times/July 18, 2004

1950: L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health is published.

1954: The Church of Scientology is founded in Los Angeles.

1975: Scientologists buy former Fort Harrison Hotel and old Bank of Clearwater.

1979: Hubbard's wife and 10 other church staffers are convicted of conspiring to steal federal government documents and cover it up.

December 1979: An estimated 3,000 gather at Clearwater City Hall to protest the church coming to Clearwater. Across the street, Scientologists stage a counter rally, dressed as clowns and wearing animal costumes.

1982: Clearwater's government holds hearings to explore allegations that the church is a cult.

January 1986: Hubbard dies of a stroke in California.

October 1993: The IRS settles its 40-year battle with Scientology, recognizing it as a tax exempt church.

December 1996: The public learns that Clearwater police are investigating the 1995 death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson, who had been in the care of the church in Clearwater for 17 days.

February 1997: A wrongful-death lawsuit is filed in the McPherson case.

December 1997: Thousands of Scientologists hold candles and demonstrate in front of Clearwater police headquarters, accusing police Chief Sid Klein of discriminating against Scientologists.

November 1998: After reviewing the McPherson case for 11 months, State Attorney Bernie McCabe charges the Church of Scientology with two felonies: practicing medicine without a license and abuse of a disabled adult. Also, the church begins building its massive Flag Building, launching a $160-million construction campaign downtown.

June 2000: McCabe drops the criminal case against the church, noting that the medical examiner's change of opinion about the cause of McPherson's death undercuts the prosecution's effort to prove the criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt.

January 2002: For the first time, church members and dozens of representatives of Clearwater's power elite socialize comfortably together at a gala to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Fort Harrison Hotel.

May 2004: The church and the estate of Lisa McPherson reach a private settlement.

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