Arthur Maren, a minister in the Church of Scientology and its director of public relations, was returned to jail yesterday for refusing to answer questions before a federal grand jury probing alleged illegalities by the church's hierarchy.
Maren, 42, was jailed by U.S. District Chief Judge William B. Bryant for civil contempt of court and can remain in jail for the term of the grand jury hearing evidence in the case. The grand jury expires next April.
Maren, the only witness called by the government so far since massive raids were conducted July 8 at the church's headquarters offices here and in Los Angeles, has spent 42 days in jail for refusing to answer the same three questione he was asked by the panel yesterday.
He has been free for the last three weeks while raising a new legal issue in opposition to his grand jury appearance.
Maren claimed in late July that he should not have been called before the grand jury because he was a minister and that questioning him violated his first Amendment rights.
Bryant ordered him to answer the three questions at issue including one question for example, as to whether he knew one former church member. Maren refused and was jailedpending appeal of that issue.
The U.S. Court of Appeals also ruled that he must answer the questions, and Maren again was taken before the grand jury. On that appearance, he invoked his right against self-incrimination.
The government, then granted him immunity from prosecution. When he again refused to answer, the government asked that he be held in contempt.
At that point, Maren's attorneys said the government should be forced to check various federal agencies to make sure the questions being asked were not based on illegal electronic surveillance. Bryant allowed Maren to remain free while that search was made. When the search turned up negative for Maren Bryant again told Maren to answer the questions.
Taken before the grand jury yesterday, Maren refused. His attorneys again asked that he be allowed to remain free, saying that the only purpose of a contempt sentence now would be to punish Maren for his beliefs.
Bryant denied the request and ordered Maren back to jail for contempt after hearing prosecutors argue that the "integrity of the grand jury is at stake."