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Federal judge smacks down Scientology’s shameless attempt to delay forced-abortion case

[Laura DeCrescenzo, center, with Marc and Claire Headley (and minion) after a previous victory in court]

It was quite obvious to us that Scientology’s most recent shameless legal gambit — suing the woman in federal court who is already suing the church in a forced-abortion abuse case in state court — was simply an outrageous waste of time as the trial in Laura DeCrescenzo’s nine-year legal odyssey finally draws nearer.

And now, a federal judge has agreed. Yesterday in Los Angeles, Judge George H. Wu granted Laura’s motion to dismiss the federal lawsuit Scientology filed in December, ending it outright.

Laura filed her lawsuit against the church way back in 2009, alleging that after she signed a billion-year contract to become a Sea Org worker at the age of 12 she was subjected to years of abuse, including being coerced into have an abortion at 17 while she was still technically a child herself. Characteristically, Scientology has pursued its usual “scorched-earth” legal tactics, trying numerous schemes to get her case thrown out of court. But Laura’s case has survived two motions for summary judgment, and successfully pried thousands of pages of her own personal records out of the church after Scientology went all the way to the US Supreme Court trying to stop her. After numerous judge changes and other holdups, she finally has a trial date in August 2018 at the Los Angeles Superior Court.

But then in December Scientology filed its desperate new lawsuit in federal court, promoting a long-shot theory that way back in 2009, the federal district court should have tossed out Laura’s case entirely. (Her case was briefly in federal court and one part of the case ended there before it returned to state court where it has been litigated ever since.)

Laura’s legal team pointed out what a cynical argument this was, that Scientology has been fighting her case hard for years, and it was pretty rich for the church to now say, suddenly, that the case should have been kicked out years earlier.

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But Judge Wu could see through that argument, and has ended the federal lawsuit “with prejudice” — meaning that Scientology can’t simply reword it and file it again under some other harebrained scheme.

“Scientology has tried to prevent this case from going to trial. Superior Court judges denied Scientology’s two motions for summary judgment. The California appellate courts and the US Supreme Court denied its attempts to prevent production of their supposedly secret documents. And after a trial date was finally set, Scientology filed a federal court lawsuit hoping to get an order to prevent the trial. The federal judge obviously saw through the frivolous argument and we are looking forward to finally going to trial,” says Laura’s attorney, John Blumberg.

The way should now be cleared for Laura’s trial — which we will remind you is going to be “bifurcated.” There will be an initial bench trial (before the judge, and without a jury) about the timing issues on the case and whether Laura filed it in time when she started this process in 2009. If she wins that, it will go on to a jury trial on the merits of her case.

Based on the history of Scientology litigation, it’s extremely unlikely that the church will roll the dice and face a jury with the facts in Laura’s case. The records she obtained after the church lost its appeal to the Supreme Court are stomach-turning.

We would expect the church to settle rather than have that evidence play out before the press in a jury trial. But will they try first to win the initial part of the trial — which won’t be before a jury and will be highly technical — before throwing in the towel?

Well, it’s coming down to crunch time. Can Scientology come up with another Hail Mary to delay things?

 
UPDATE: The Bunker’s resident attorney Scott Pilutik dives into the legal side of this ruling for us…

When Scientology filed this nonsense in December I recall remarking how convoluted it was. Their argument boiled down as follows: because the federal court had dismissed the one federal claim (human trafficking) as time-barred and remanded the remaining state claims back to state court (as the federal court no longer had jurisdiction without the federal claim), the same federal court should now take the view that the state claims that it remanded should have been dismissed as time-barred as well… even though the California Court of Appeals has since ruled that Scientology could not assert the statute of limitations as a defense to Laura’s remaining state claims. Whew, exhale. (And that’s the simplified version, I’m sparing you the complicated one.)

The court only addresses that craziness head-on in footnote 8, and instead dismisses the argument on broader grounds, specifically that the federal court had no statutory power to enjoin the California court’s ruling which, again, was that Scientology could not assert a statute of limitations defense. The reasoning has to do with the delicate balance federal courts need to strike when state courts rule on issues that veer into the federal jurisdictional lane. Sometimes federal law (or a federal ruling) might have a preclusive effect over state law or proceedings, and sometimes the state court has the better argument that its law or findings should control. Here, there was no question that the California Court of Appeals ruling–that Scientology could not assert a statute of limitations defense to Laura’s remaining state claims–trumped whatever had happened at the federal court many years prior.

Though it had already decided the case, the court further ruled that it was “relevant… that [Scientology] waited more than six years to seek an injunction in this court,” and that it “would decline to enjoin the pending state court action even if it had the power to do so.” And it dismissed with prejudice, meaning Scientology can’t refile this by repackaging its garbage.

 
Here’s the ruling…

Scientology v. DeCrescenzo (Federal) Final Ruling by Tony Ortega on Scribd

 
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Make your plans now!

HOWDYCON UPDATE

Wow, we’re now less than two months out, and Chee Chalker is working hard to make sure things are going to run smoothly at this year’s HowdyCon in Chicago, June 21-23. As in past years, we’re looking forward to meeting readers of the Bunker, culminating in Saturday night’s main event.

The biggest difference this year is that our Saturday night event is separate from that evening’s dinner. Chee is setting up an inexpensive pizza dinner that you don’t need to pay for ahead of time, after which we’ll walk over to the theater where our event, hosted by Chicago Fire star Christian Stolte, will take place. Because it’s a separate event, we’re asking that you pay $10 each to get into the Saturday night event, which will help us recoup what the Bunker paid for the venue. (We have never made a penny on our HowdyCon meetups, we only try to break even.)

Please email your proprietor (tonyo94 AT gmail) in order to reserve your spot for Saturday night’s main event. Seating is limited, and we’re going to have some really interesting people on stage and they may make a few announcements that you don’t want to miss.

 

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,104 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,707 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 250 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,313 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,087 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,861 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,207 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,701 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,741 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,453 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 979 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,068 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,208 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,528 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,503 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 859 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,161 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,267 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,670 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,542 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,124 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,629 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,873 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,982 days.

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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on May 4, 2018 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, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

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 | 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 non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news

 

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