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Scientology’s appeal denied, trial date to be set in forced-abortion lawsuit


[Laura D, center, celebrating a previous victory in her lawsuit with Marc and Claire Headley]

Laura DeCrescenzo has won yet another victory in her seven-year legal odyssey to sue the Church of Scientology over abuse she claims she suffered during her childhood in the “Sea Organization,” including being forced, she says, to have an abortion at 17 years old.

Twice, Laura has had to weather Scientology’s motions for summary judgment. We were in the courtroom both times as, in 2013, Judge Ronald Sohigian denied Scientology’s first motion which claimed that Laura didn’t have enough evidence to go to trial, and earlier this year as Judge John P. Doyle turned down Scientology’s argument that the lawsuit violated the church’s First Amendment religious rights.

Soon after Judge Doyle made that decision in April, he had to disqualify himself when it turned out that he had cousins in the Sea Org, at least one of whom Scientology planned to call at trial as a witness. So the church then petitioned for a writ with California’s second appellate court district saying not only that Doyle’s decision was wrong, but that it should be voided anyway because he was obviously disqualified when he made it.

But this week the appellate court refused to take up the case, issuing a document with a single line: “The petition for writ of mandate or other extraordinary relief filed June 2, 2016, has been read and considered and is denied.”

For some perspective on that, we turned to our attorney and webmaster Scott Pilutik, who has been following Laura’s case closely since she first filed it.

Some quick and dirty Writs 101 to start. Writs are kind of like appeals because you’re asking the court above the trial court to fix something you feel the trial court broke. But unlike appeals, you’re actually suing the trial court, and instead of asking the appeals court to reverse what the trial court did, you’re asking them to stop the trial court or make it do something in particular (the differences can be fuzzy, but don’t get caught up in that for now). So it’s an extraordinary request, and they’re rarely successful.

The most important difference, for our purposes, is that when the court summarily denies your writ petition, that’s that. There’s no court to appeal the denial to. The court doesn’t even have to explain its reasoning for the denial. A bland sentence will do, as was the case here.

You can appeal the underlying issues once the trial is over, but you have to go through that trial. And obviously the entire point of this charade was to create yet another roadblock on the road to trial. Should the case go to trial and Scientology lose they’ll probably include their writ argument in their appeal but that’s a loooonnnng way off so let’s hit pause on that bit of speculation.

Sometimes when considering writs the appeals court might ask to be briefed by each side, a good sign that it considers your writ somewhat compelling. And while you can’t conclusively infer the opposite when the court doesn’t ask for anything more (as was, to the best of my knowledge, the case here), the court’s silence and quick turnaround time suggest they didn’t think much of Scientology’s argument.

We’re told that a hearing has been scheduled in the court where the lawsuit landed after Doyle’s disqualification, before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Samantha Jessner, during which the issue of a new trial date will be discussed. Previously, Judge Doyle had talked about a spring 2017 date as likely.

An attorney who handles appeals cautioned us, however, that despite how final this ruling from the appellate district appears, Scientology may delay things by taking a long shot appeal to the state supreme court. “I have had cases where one or another of the parties convinced a higher appellate court to take up a summary denial. It is long odds, but not impossible. I would expect the church to stretch it out for another few months or a year, just because they can,” the attorney says.

And once again, as a reminder, when a trial finally does happen in this case, it will be bifurcated — initially, a bench trial (without a jury) will be held to determine the complex timing issues in the lawsuit (whether or not Laura filed her case in time when she first brought it to court in 2009), and, if her lawsuit survives that, then the second half of the trial, before a jury, will be held on the merits of her case.

This has been a long, complex slog. But at every crucial juncture, Laura has won, even when Scientology tried to go to the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to hold back secret documents that it ultimately had to give up.

Today, she’s one step closer to trial. Here’s the document from the appeals court…


DeCrescenzo v. Scientology: Writ Denial


Budapest finally going Ideal

Peter Bonyai tells us that the Budapest Ideal Org, which had been rumored to be set for a grand opening in May, is finally going to get the red ribbon treatment next weekend. He says in a blog post that according to Scientology, there’s a push to make the Budapest org the biggest Class V org on earth, with a staff of 330. He expects Scientology leader David Miscavige to be present for the ceremony next Saturday.


In regards to this flier, Peter writes: “For some reason, the logo of the Budapest Ideal Org contains the Hungarian Parliament Building. No idea why they did that, but I sincerely hope they will never get anywhere near to achieving that implied goal.”


What Virginia Woolf would have said about Scientology

Joyce Miller, an NYU grad living in New York, wrote a short and funny essay at McSweeney’s website last August about having joined Scientology at ten under her father’s influence, and then in her twenties realizing that she was gay and that her Scientology indoctrination made coming out especially weird.

She’s reached out to us to let us know that she’s trying to raise the money to turn her essay into a short satirical film in which she’ll play Virginia Woolf. And if you think that sounds strange, you should see the trailer.

Derek Bloch and Nora Crest have done a terrific job in recent years talking about Scientology and homophobia. Joyce Miller would also like to make some noise about it, and she’s clearly aiming at a more literary set. Hey, the more the merrier.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on July 16, 2016 at 07:00

E-mail 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. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

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


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  • JaxNGold

    Three hours since the last post? Are ya’ll out partying or something? 😉

    • Juicer77

      I’m up and out sightseeing. More Open golf today. Have a good one Jax:)

      • JaxNGold

        I’m up too cuz I can’t sleep. It’s 1:30 am here. Yikes.

        Have a great day! Sounds like a blast.

        • dungeon master

          me either. just plain sucks. and the 4 year old gkid is also awake, so i cant just relax and go to sleep. sigh.

          • JaxNGold

            I’ve got a 4 yr old son. Ugh, would die if he were awake. I was able to fall back to sleep for almost two hours. Some nights I just can’t stay asleep. Yep, definitely sucks. Makes for a hell of a next day. Hope you’re able to eventually get some rest.

            • dungeon master

              He’s back to sleep. Im taking a hot bath and listening to the byrds. I will make my son watch his kids long enough to get a nap in. I expect the other three will be in here any minute saying. ‘gramma, we’re hungry’. But good luck on your day, and thanks for sympathizing.

    • you have to go to youtube to see some chat action

  • Juicer77

    Congratulations Laura on another successful mile in this long marathon. Wishing you continued success and happiness.

  • MostEthicalPimp

    G night to all the CoolAid drinkers

  • Fink Jonas

    Well finally the judges staring to notice that this case been dragging for 7 years already due to Scientologist are experts at nagging and complaining about everything, money is not an issue and Hubbard said the point is not to win but to harass, so if the judges don’t get on top, it will drag till the kingdom come, Scientology’s kingdom that is.

  • Justin Castillo
  • 0tessa

    I know of a couple that before joining the Sea Org in the USA had their baby and gave it away for adoption to another couple (ex-Sea Org). Just like that. All for the greatest good (the common justification in Scientology world). I wonder what that child might feel at this time. It might be that she is so indoctrinated Scientology style by now, that she might have suppressed any natural feelings about it.

    • UhLasare

      Dang. 🙁

  • OOkpik

    How to entertain oneself when there ain’t much else goin’ on.

  • Kay

    I have been up all night and can’t sleep….where is Tony’s new post for today ??? Whine whine whine ! I know I shouldn’t expect one at 6:30 AM his time, but one can always hope. In the meantime, I shall go back to bed for the 10th time tonight.

    • Kay

      P.S. since I haven’t been able to sleep I’ve been cruising the internet and found an interesting article by Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Kirstie Alley’s former dance partner on DWTS. He said they had been really good friends after partnering, they talked all the time, did stuff together, and suddenly when she found out that he was interesting in dating Jennifer Lopez AND had become friends with Leah Remini, who is Lopez’s best friend, she disconnected from him. This is what he said:

      “We had a great relationship … But I got a message now that I am associating with other people that she can’t be associated with, I am no longer to be spoken with, and sorry, but it is what it is.”

      Chmerkovskiy seems baffled more than anything. “I think the world of her,” he says of Alley, 63. “I’m not judging people by their religion. I’m Jewish. I don’t really believe in science fiction, but whatever.”

      • FredEX2

        Good morning Kay. That was an interesting little news bite. Disconnection from family & friends ( and Fair Game ) are going to be their downfall. It makes them appear weak.

  • A wonderful lady and true friend expresses her gratitude to all who helped and to the Tony and the Bunker for stepping up.

  • Alex De Valera

    Playing games with Scientology is like playing against a Frankenstein blend of the Vatican, the First National City Bank and the KGB. The thing also is that the cult is self destructive, because they are so out of reality and so sure they are right that they’ll end up messing up their tactics and making more enemies.

  • Lady Squash

    So happy your case is moving forward Laura DeCrescenzo! Sock it to ’em.

  • richelieu jr

    Nice write up, Tony, though there is one niggling detail that bothers me:

    “ least one of whom Scientology planned to call at trial as a witness.” should read as

    “at least one of whom Scientology CLAIMED TO HAVE planned to call at trial as a witness.

    I mean, do we really believe that out of all the Scientologists in the world, they would have to call the one from England to testify here? hy him and no one else? Because they thought they had an outside chance of bouncing the Judge (and they were right!) and if not, using it as grounds for an appeal.

    They waited until the right time, so it could be strung out as far as possible and used for maximum effect.

    If I have learned one thing over the years it is : Never take a Scientologist at their word.
    Trust, but verify as the old guy playing the President used to say on the 80’s TV show… 😉