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Scientologists Deny Murder Link

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 13 – The Church of Scientology said Friday a “vicious and well organized rumor campaign” has sought to link it with the Sharon Tate murders. It offered a $30,000 reward for information bringing conviction of those responsible for various rumors.

Six black-suited ministers of the “applied religious philosophy” denomination, which claims 15 million members worldwide, held a Los Angeles news conference where a spokesman said:

– That “totally groundless” rumors have pictured the church as attempting to block police work on the Tate case and also “tie the church into the practice of black magic.”

– As in past “similar campaigns” against the church around the world, indications are that “the same national and world mental health front groups” are responsible.

Church officials have given police every assistance and have been commended by police for their efforts, the spokesman said.

The $30,000 reward – $10,000 in each of three categories – was posted for information leading to prosecution and conviction of persons responsible for these alleged acts:

1. Impending police investigation into the murders of Doreen Gaul, 19, and James Sharp, 15, found slain Nov. 5 in an alley. Both were members of the church.

2. “Knowingly causing to be denied” to police information about “this vile and murderous act.”

3. Causing circulation of falsehoods including allegations that the church membership “includes notorious individuals . . never members of the Church of Scientology . . but held by police in connection with other charges.”

The spokesman did not elaborate.

Rev. Gordon Mustain, the spokesman, said there had been two published reports that describe a group called “The ‘Process” as an offshoot of the Church of Scientology. He said “The Process” has never been affiliated with the church and is not on offshoot in any sense of the word.”

The Scientology group also issued a printed report to newsmen that said church officials had told police “The Process” apparently was founded in London four or five years ago and, apparently under police pressure, fled England and appeared in Hollywood, Greenwich Village, New Orleans, and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district.

“It was in Haight-Ashbury that Manson may have come in contact with them,” the release said.

Charles Manson, 35, shaggy leader of a nomadic band of hippie types, and four of his followers are charged with murders of actress Sharon Tate and four others at her estate, plus two knifing deaths the next night. Another follower is also held in one case.

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