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Nightmare on the Net

A web of intrigue surrounds the high-stakes legal brawl between FACTnet and the Church of Scientology.

Church officials have challenged the autopsy results as well as news reports suggesting that McPherson was planning to leave the church; they insist she chose to be in "seclusion" and died of a staph infection. Three church members sought for questioning by Clearwater police have reportedly left the country. McPherson's parents recently filed a lawsuit against the Church of Scientology, accusing the group of allowing their daughter to lie in a coma for days without nourishment or water; a church attorney has denied the allegations.

FACTNet makes passing mention of the McPherson case in a contentious "briefing" posted on its Web site a couple of weeks ago, but it's been largely overlooked in the swirl of speculation and recrimination about her death found elsewhere on the Internet. Wollersheim and Lerma promise they will be putting up more Scientology-related materials soon. Whether or not the organization's voice in the cyber-debate will ever again achieve the kind of molten rage and defiance it reached two summers ago will depend on the outcome of the case before Judge Kane. At present, FACTNet has no liability insurance to safeguard its directors' actions.

"We're uninsurable," Wollersheim says. "That's one of our damage claims.

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