In 2009 Laura filed her lawsuit, and one of its main arguments was that since she had left Scientology’s Sea Org in 2004, she had come to a different understanding of her life in that strict group that requires signing a billion-year contract. After she had left it in 2004, she remained a Scientologist for four more years until finally becoming disaffected and reading eye-opening information about Scientology online.
Only then, she argued, did she gain the perspective necessary to understand how much her life in the Sea Org — which had begun when she was only twelve years old — was a life of coercion, indoctrination, and deprivation of liberty. Central to that experience was the pressure she was put under, when she became pregnant at 17, to have an abortion. Like many other women who have left the Sea Org, she says that she was forced to have the abortion in the larger interests of Scientology — the “greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics.”
But Scientology, during its questioning of Laura in depositions, bore down not on how she sees her life in the Sea Org now, but how she perceived it then. Did she feel like a prisoner then? Didn’t she “voluntarily” agree to submit to the Sea Org’s prison detail, the “Rehabilitation Project Force” (RPF), which she stayed in for several years? Wasn’t her decision to have an abortion her own personal one?
Laura and her legal team have argued consistently that these things were forced upon her, but that Scientology’s manipulative techniques made her feel at the time that she was making these decisions on her own.
Now, in the final document submitted to the court before Monday’s hearing on Scientology’s motion for summary judgment, Deixler hammers away at this, arguing that Laura today cannot sue over things she felt were reasonable when they were actually happening. It doesn’t matter what she thinks of them today. It matters only that when Laura was joining the Sea Org, submitting to the RPF, and agreeing to an abortion, that she was doing so in agreement with the church she belonged to.
Laura’s case survived a previous motion for summary judgment, in October 2013, but Scientology has come back with another one, this time claiming that the lawsuit violates the church’s rights to exercise religion under the protection of the First Amendment. As we’ve seen in previous filings, Scientology argues that no matter how badly it treats people in the Sea Org, it’s not a matter for a U.S. civil court to examine. Writes Deixler in this latest document…
Under the First Amendment, churches may encourage a minister or member of a religious order to forego child rearing so she or he may continue in the religious life. Courts may not interfere with those efforts.
What a pretty way to say, “force a 17-year-old, technically a child herself, to have an abortion so she can continue to work 112-hour-weeks for pennies an hour.”
Also, Deixler suggests that not only was Laura not held against her will, but that she could have tapped her shoes together and left at any time…
Quite simply, plaintiff could have left the Sea Org every single day. She could have walked away at any time. She could have not returned from her various travels away from Los Angeles. She could have called her mother. She could have routed out and remained a Scientologist in good standing, like her sister did. Or, she could have left without “routing out.” The reason she did not was because she did not want to. She was a committed Scientologist.
Deixler has put together numerous arguments in this filing for why the judge should decide that Laura DeCrescenzo has not proved that she was held against her will or was forced to have an abortion, based on testimony of how she felt at the time.
But that’s never been the point of her lawsuit. She sued in 2009 after she realized to what extent she was victimized. And the decision before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John P. Doyle on Monday will be, shouldn’t a jury get to decide who has the more compelling argument, Laura DeCrescenzo or Bert Deixler and the Church of Scientology?
We look forward to your comments on this latest filing…
Chris Shelton interviews Rachel Bernstein, part 3
Here’s the third and final part of Chris’s conversation with Rachel…
Bonus items from our tipsters
Mark Bunker, on today’s gem from the archives of XENU TV: “On L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday, I spoke briefly with former member Neal Hamel whose neighborhood had been leafleted by Scientology.”
Actual caption: “Long-time veteran Tampa staff members and long-term friends (Edna and Dale) just routed on to their Survival Rundown together!! We are so excited about the beautiful journey you guys have ahead of you on this course!!”
Scientology in Alaska!
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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield