A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that lawyers for the Church of Scientology are not entitled to obtain additional documents they say they need to defend the church against a former member’s claims that she was forced to work long hours before she was a teen and was coerced to have an abortion at age 17.
Subject To Brainwashing And Mind Control
Judge Samantha Jessner said the church’s attorneys could have asked for the information sooner and that she was not going to re-open discovery in the case, which was brought by Laura Ann DeCrescenzo in April 2009.
Lawyers for the church had sought documents reviewed by plaintiff’s witness Stephen Kent, who is an expert in the sociology of religions. They wrote in their court papers that Kent used the records to form his opinion that DeCrescenzo, now 44, was subject to brainwashing and mind control that delayed her filing of her lawsuit.
Forced Abortion, False Imprisonment And More
The trial could have two phases, beginning with a non-jury trial before Judge Mark Mooney to determine whether DeCrescenzo acted reasonably in waiting so long to file her lawsuit. If he rules in her favor, a jury would decide on liability and damages.
Mooney scheduled the non-jury trial for Aug. 13 and the jury trial, if needed, for Nov. 26, 2018.
The church is a defendant along with its Religious Technology Center. The suit’s allegations include forced abortion, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unfair business practices and wage and hour violations.
She Began Volunteering With The Church At Age 6 Or 7
Although now-retired Judge Ronald Sohigian previously dismissed the case, a three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed his decision in June 2011 and sent the case back to the judge to determine whether the church was permitted to raise the statute of limitations as a defense.
According to a sworn declaration by DeCrescenzo, she began volunteering to do church work at age 6 or 7 in Orange County. She says that at age 7, she was part of a Scientology group organized to picket the very civil courthouse where trial of her lawsuit will take place.
Consequences Of Taking Action Against The Church of Scientology
She claims the demonstration showed the church’s ability to “go to every length to bring down people who filed lawsuits” against the institution, whose followers include actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
“I believed that if I took any action against the Church of Scientology — whether filing a lawsuit or even speaking negatively about the Church of Scientology — that I would be subjected to severe retribution, including significant financial penalties and loss of my family,” DeCrescenzo stated.
Required To Work 15+ Hours A Day
When DeCrescenzo was 12, she was recruited to join the organization’s elite Sea Org, which she said is responsible for overseeing the delivery of the religion worldwide.
DeCrescenzo alleges she was initially required to work daily from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and that two more hours were later added to her work day. DeCrescenzo says she remained with Sea Org until 2004, when she was 25.
Pretended To Attempt Suicide
She says she was told she could not leave Sea Org and was released from duty only after she pretended to attempt suicide by swallowing bleach.
DeCrescenzo alleges she became pregnant in February 1996 and was convinced by the church to abort her fetus to show her allegiance to Sea Org and its long hours.