The tragic death of Lisa McPherson has long been exploited by critics. For years they have made outrageous claims to the effect that this was a typical example of Scientology treatment.
Some of the main contentions of critics, however, were dismissed under legal scrutiny, information they are rather shy about.
The criminal case was dismissed altogether when the Medical Examiner, faced with incontrovertible evidence, was forced to change her initial diagnosis.
As for the civil case, one of the favorite claims of critics, that of false imprisonment, has been stricken and will not be presented to the jury because it was clear that Lisa McPherson wanted to be treated by Scientologists.
The central element of the criminal case was the diagnosis made by Florida Medical Examiner Dr. Joan Wood. Contrary to the claim made by the CoS that McPherson died suddenly from a severe staph infection, she initially stated that the death was gradual and that the cause was extreme dehydration.
Wood however, did not perform the autopsy herself. It was done by Dr. Robert Davis who could not support any of Wood's fundamental findings. The CoS also claimed that autopsy notes were withheld or illegally destroyed by Wood's office; they brought suit against her office when Wood refused to produce the records.
When the CoS finally got hold of two vital autopsy specimens they didn't have before, they provided them to several foremost forensic pathologists who independently and unanimously agreed that Wood's allegations were totally devoid of fact. Contrary to what she claimed, they maintained that McPherson died suddenly and unpredictably of a blood clot in her left lung that originated from a knee bruise she suffered in a minor auto accident 17 days earlier.
Wood amended the death certificate In February 2000, changing the manner of death to "accident" and leaving out the words "bed rest and severe dehydration."
Bernie McCabe, the prosecutor, was left without evidence enough to justify a criminal case and dropped the suit.
As for the civil suit, it was due to start in June 2002, then was posponed to July, then to September, and is now due at the earliest in January 2003, if it takes place at all. The raging controversy behind these delays is the change of mind of Stacy Brooks and Bob Minton. Stacy Brooks recanted all her testimony against the CoS and Bob Minton turned against Ken Dandar, lawyer for the McPherson Estate, for dishonest conduct.
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