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With a trial looming in 6-year forced-abortion lawsuit, Scientology cries ‘but we’re a religion!’

Laura DeCrescenzo

Laura DeCrescenzo

In 2013, the Underground Bunker provided live coverage as Laura DeCrescenzo’s forced-abortion lawsuit survived a major challenge by the Church of Scientology. Laura sued the church in 2009 because she alleges that she was abused as a “Sea Org” worker who, for example, was made to work 90-hour weeks for pennies an hour — and that’s when she was 12 years old. When she turned 13, she was moved to an adult schedule of 112-hour weeks. At 17, while still technically a child, she says she was coerced into having an abortion — something other women have alleged was standard policy in the Sea Org, where having children was forbidden because it would prevent them from working so much.

After four years of complex legal wrangling — which even included Scientology’s failed attempt to have the US Supreme Court intervene — DeCrescenzo’s legal team convinced LA Superior Court Judge Ronald Sohigian that there was enough evidence of Scientology’s shocking treatment of Laura that a jury should sort out who was telling the truth. Sohigian denied Scientology’s motion for summary judgment. Sohigian then retired, and the new judge in the case scheduled trial for December 7, 2015.

But now, as that trial date looms, Scientology has filed yet another voluminous motion for summary judgment — and this time, it’s a familiar refrain.

Scientology’s new motion boils down simply to this: Even if Laura DeCrescenzo were subjected to horrific treatment, it just doesn’t matter, because Scientology calls itself a religion and Laura was once a participant in that religion.

We’re told that Laura’s camp expected this move by the church. But we think our readers will find the particulars of the motion fascinating to read.

We’re also interested to see that the new motion is signed by attorney Bert Deixler, one of Scientology’s go-to litigants in his case.


It was Deixler, we’ve pointed out before, who went to both the California and US Supreme Courts and argued to both of them that Scientology should not be forced to turn over Laura DeCrescenzo’s personal files to her. Why? Because the material in them was deeply “religious,” he argued, and forcing the church to turn over that evidence would be harmful to the church’s religious rights. In our previous story, we explained the result of his pleas…

Both courts ignored him, and Laura finally got her files. And what was in them? Read our full story about that if you haven’t already, but among the things in her files were, for example, a confession she was forced to write at 12 years old, admitting that she had committed the “crime” of wanting to see her family. As a Sea Org worker who had signed a billion-year contract and was working 90-hour weeks for pennies an hour, she was required to suppress her homesickness and give up thoughts of seeing her mother again. In any other context, this might be considered a sick form of abuse and child slavery. That’s the content Bert Deixler told the California and US Supreme Courts was “very religious” and deserved to be protected from Laura DeCrescenzo’s possession.

In an alternate universe, maybe, Bert Deixler’s ability to work as an attorney might be questioned after telling two of the highest courts in the land such things. But here, it only got him another payday writing a lengthy brief for his wealthy client.

We’re looking forward to the attorneys in our community to pull out their favorite arguments from these documents. As we’ve seen in other cases, Scientology has done well with such a line of reasoning, and we can’t blame them for using a strategy that seems to have US courts in a state of obeisance.

But we look forward to seeing how Laura’s legal team responds.

We’ve also posted a declaration submitted by Jesse DeCrescenzo, Laura’s ex-husband. Said one of our legal experts, “The declaration from Laura’s ex-husband is an insincere collection of absolute garbage. It was clearly written by [Scientology leader David] Miscavige and his lawyers. I hope that Laura is looking forward to having this guy ripped apart in a deposition.”

We’ll post anything we get from Laura’s team in return. But for now, help us by pulling your favorite quotes of these documents and sharing them with us in the comments…



And here’s the declaration by Jesse DeCrescenzo…


DeCrescenzo: Jesse DeCrescenzo Declaration

We’re sure there are a lot of things here for our legal experts to pick up on. We’ll just point out one thing that jumped out at us — the references to the Headley case. Sure, Scientology would like for this lawsuit to suffer the same fate as the one brought against Scientology by former Sea Org workers Marc and Claire Headley, who each grew up working extremely long hours before escaping (and we mean that literally) from the International Base near Hemet, California in 2005.

But the appellate judge who put a final end to that lawsuit was actually very sympathetic to the claims of abuse and forced abortions alleged by the Headleys. Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain of the Ninth Circuit dismissed their appeal based not on the facts of the case but on the law the Headleys had tried to sue under — which dealt with federal labor trafficking. O’Scannlain specifically said that the evidence was strong, but it fit a different kind of claim: “Although the Headleys marshaled evidence of potentially tortious conduct, they did not bring claims for assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, or any of a number of other theories that might have better fit the evidence,” he wrote.

In other words, citing the Headleys actually works for DeCrescenzo, because she’s doing precisely what Judge O’Scannlain recommended — she is making claims of false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. We expect Laura’s team will point that out in their response.


Leah Remini and Paulette Cooper parallel drawn

We’re humbled by the kind words said about this website and our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, by Bethany Mandel of The Federalist. She draws a smart comparison between Paulette Cooper, who once took on Scientology and nearly paid for it with her life, and Leah Remini, who has been speaking out about her 2013 defection from the church. As Mandel points out, it’s not so easy for Scientology to go after Remini the way it did Cooper, not when Remini can dedicate episodes of her popular reality show to taking shots at Scientology. We thoroughly agree, and that’s why we still think this may be the scariest image Scientology has seen this year…



Nick Lister’s story — the full 3-hour video

Aaron Smith-Levin and Nick Lister have come out of the gate roaring with their new YouTube channel, “Growing Up In Scientology.” Now, Aaron is putting out the full 3-hour interview with Nick that he’s been doling out in parts up to this point. To make it easier to consume, they’ve broken it down into 19 chapters…

1. Introduction, 2. Why we started the Growing Up in Scientology channel, 3. What It’s Really Like Growing up in Scientology, 4. Going to a Private Scientology School, 5. Being Recruited to Join the Sea Organization, 6. Being a Scientologist Teenager (Part 1), 7. Confidential Scientology Scriptures and False Promises of OT, 8. All Roads Lead to Scientology, 9. Being a Scientologist Teenager (Part 2), 10. Working in a Scientology Organization, 11. Leaving Staff, 12. Staff War Stories and John Travolta, 13. Cruelty, Stalking and Enforced Disconnection, 14. The Injustice of Scientology Justice, 15. The Narconon Experience, 16. Scientology Amps Up the Pressure, 17. What Happens When You Try to Cooperate with Scientology, 18. The False “Facts” Scientology Feeds Its Members, 19. What Scientology Really Is and What I Think of It Now



Miss Lovely on parade

Miss Lovely in Boston, outside the restaurant where we’ll be speaking on the evening of August 24. Watching previous videos of speakers at the Skeptics in the Pub series at Hong Kong restaurant (1238 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge), we’re anticipating a good-sized venue and professional video services…




We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together a complete index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.

Tony Ortega’s upcoming appearances (and check out the interactive map to our ongoing tour)…

August 24: Boston, Boston Skeptics in the Pub, Hong Kong restaurant (1238 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge) 7 pm (with Gregg Housh)

Sept 15: Barrett the Honors College, Arizona State University, ASU in Downtown Phoenix campus, Walter Cronkite Theater, 5:30 pm

Sept 23: Cleveland, Parma Heights Library, 7pm sponsored by Center for Inquiry – Northeast Ohio

Sept 24: Minneapolis

Sept 27: Portland

Sept 28: Seattle, Razzi’s Pizzeria, 7 pm, with Seattle Skeptics and Seattle Atheists

Sept 29: Vancouver, BC, Seven Dining Lounge, 7 pm

Oct 23: Sydney, Giant Dwarf Theatre (with Sen. Nick Xenophon)

Oct 25: Melbourne

Oct 28: Adelaide (with Sen. Nick Xenophon)

Oct 30: Perth

Past dates: Santa Barbara (5/16), Hollywood (5/17), Orange County (5/17), San Diego (5/20), San Francisco (5/22), New York (6/11), Chicago (6/20), Toronto (6/22), Clearwater (6/28), Washington DC (7/12), Hartford (7/14), Denver (7/17), Dallas (7/20), Houston (7/22), San Antonio (7/24), Austin (7/25), Paris (7/29), London (8/4)


Posted by Tony Ortega on August 13, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB 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 LA 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

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
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


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