San Jose Mercury News Tuesday, April 7, 1992 Est Founder sues critics; suit names Mercury

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San Jose Mercury News Tuesday, April 7, 1992 Est Founder sues critics; suit names Mercury News writer Mercury News Staff Report Werner Erhard, controversial founder of the self-improvement program known as est, has filed a wide-ranging defamation lawsuit against 20 defendants, including a Mercury News staff writer, news media, commercial publications and private groups that have criticized Erhard or his teachings. Mercury News attorney Edward P. Davis Jr. said the allegations against staff writer John Hubner are false. "It's frivolous," the attorney added, "Why they're dragging John into it is hard to say." The Mercury News is not named as a defendant. The suit, filed last month in Chicago's Cook County Circuit Court, includes charges of slander, invasion of privacy, conspiracy and other allegations. The defendants include CBS, Hustler magazine, the National Enquirer and the Chicago-based Cult Awareness Network, which distributes information on groups that it classifies as cults. Hubner wrote a series of critical articles about Erhard that appeared in West magazine in November 1990. But the lawsuit focuses on a March 3, 1991, broadcast of the CBS news program "60 Minutes," which used part of a taped interview that Hubner conducted with Erhard while researching his articles. During the "60 Minutes" report, one of Erhard's daughters told CBS that her father had molested her. While Erhard did not appear on the program, CBS aired portions of Hubner's taped interview, in which Erhard denied the incest allegations. Erhard's attorney, Walter Maksym of Illinois, could not be reached for comment.

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