Jazz guitarist sues Scientologists

February 9, 1980

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo has filed a $21 million lawsuit against the Church of Scientology, accusing the organization of embezzling his money, kidnapping him and forcing him to undergo a Scientology "Life Repair Course."

In a 36-page complaint, Szabo's lawyer listed accusations which included Scientology's alleged takeover of the musician's career after he sought help in the church's drug-treatment program.

Szabo, born in Budapest in 1936, is best known for his worked with Lena Horne. During the late '60s and early '70s he was a regular at the Monterey and Newport jazz festivals. His most popular tune is Mizrab which came out in the late '70s.

Szabo contends the church induced him to sign a personal management contract with Artists International, a company he said is an arm of the Church of Scientology. He said the firm was inept in artist management and more concerned with using his name to win converts to Scientology.

He said the company charged a fee of 26 percent of his gross income for its services but did not pass on or account for the thousands of dollars he earned while they managed him. Szabo accused Scientology and Artists International of embezzling at least $15,000 from him.

The church's minister of public affairs, Heber Jentzsch, denied all allegations and said Szabo has been given a full refund of his money "and has signed documents to that effect."

Szabo says he was induced to sign a release and accept the money after a long period of harassment.

He said Scientologists told him he was a "pts" or "potential trouble source" because he could not fully commit himself to the teachings and principles of Scientology.

He said he was ordered to travel to Florida to undergo Scientology's Life Repair Course, a program which cost $12,000.