Two high ranking officials of the Church of Scientology, who want U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey to disquality himself from their uncoming criminal trial, yesterday disclosed in court papers tape-recorded statements allegedly made by a court reporter about Richey's attitude toward the church.
The disclosure was the latest episode in an escalating campaign by the Scientologists to demonstrate that Richey is personally biased against them and therefore should not preside at their July 7 trial on burglary charges.
In an affidavit filed last Friday, court reporter Thomas Dourian denied the Scientologist's claim that he made statements to private investigators that showed Richey was prejudiced against them. Yesterday, the Church responded to Dourian's denial with a 31-page document in which they recite quotations they say were taken directly from the tape recordings. Dourian's lawyer said yesterday, however, that his client stands by his affidavit.
"He (Dourian) did not make the statements," attorney Lawrence H. Schwartz said in a telephone interview.
In court papaers yesterday, attorneys for the two church members said there are audio tape recordings of "direct person-to-person contacts" between Dourian and a private investigator, and that statements attributed to Dourian were made in the presence of one or two witnesses.
The Scientologists contend that in one tape recorded interview on May 26 Dourian said: "When he (Richey) first got this (the Scientology) case, I begged him not to take it. I said, 'Get off of it. This is not the kind of case you can handle' . . . I didn't say 'You're an idiot' but those were behind my words. He knows what I'm hinting and all he could see was the publicity."
The church memebers also allege in court papers that they have a transcript of Dourian statements in which he states that Richey was seen leaving the office of one of the federal prosecutors assigned to the Scientology case.
The Scientologists contend that all these factors demonstrate that Richey is biased against them and that therefore he should not remain on the case. Richey must decide whether to disqualify himself. If he stays with the case, the defendants can argue the point afterward at the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Federal prosecutors have not formally responded to the church's latest court filling. Last Friday, however, the government said in court papers that the church's request that Richey get off the case was part of their alleged ongoing effort to "smear" the judge and create an atmosphere that would force Richey to disqualify himself.
When the church made its charge that Richey is biased against them, it filed with the court a sworn statement from defendant Morrison Budlong, who said he had reviewed tape statements from court reporter Dourian and one of the two deputy marshals who had accompanied Richey to a hearing involving the Scientologists in Los Angeles last summer.
The church contends that those statements support their allegations that Richey is biased against them. The government responded that the charge was unfounded and attached to its court papers the sworn statements from Dourian in which he denied having made the statements.
In that sworn statement, Dourian admitted that he met in May with Frederick Cain, a retired District police detective; Richard Bast, a local private investigator, and James Perry, one of the deputy marshals who went with Richey to California.
Perry has been on leave without pay from his job since November. Recent attempts by the .S. Marshal's Office to reach Perry have been unsuccessful.
Dourian said in his sworn statement that Perry initiated contact with Cain and that Cain told him he was working for a wealthy European industrialist whose daughter had been a Scientologist.
Last October Richey convicted nine Scientologists of participating in a wide criminal conspiracy to infiltrate and burglarize government offices. Budlong and codefendant Jane Kember are the last two church members to stand trial in connection with that case. They are represented by local defense lawyers R. Kenneth Mundy and John A. Shorter Jr.