A French court on Wednesday upheld a 2009 conviction against the Church of Scientology for “organized fraud.”
The fraud conviction came with a $812,000 penalty for what was deemed preying on devotees financially during the 1990s, the Telegraph reports. The Los Angeles-based church, which counts celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its flock, was outraged, calling the court ruling “an affront to justice and religious liberty.”
“The court failed to address the fundamental violations of the human rights of each of the defendants that infected every level of this case,” the church said. It has signaled plans to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
France considers Scientology to be a cult, not a religion. The original case came about after complaints from two women who felt manipulated by the church. One woman said she was coerced into spending 20,000 euros on an “electrometer,” which is used by the church to measure energy levels in people, and another woman said she was fired by her Scientologist boss after she refused to convert.
The church was founded in 1954 by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.