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[Laura D, from her Facebook account]

After nine years of characteristic scorched-earth legal maneuvering which included numerous appeals and delays and long-shot Hail Mary passes, Scientology has finally chickened out of actually going through a trial over the forced-abortion allegations of Laura DeCrescenzo. The two sides hammered out a settlement to end the case before trial was scheduled to begin on August 13, more than nine years since Laura first filed her lawsuit. The settlement of the case was announced in open court this morning.

The sides won’t divulge the terms of the deal, but we can tell you it’s pretty likely that Scientology leader David Miscavige cut the largest check he ever has to end a lawsuit, and for good reason. As attorney Scott Pilutik explained just a few days ago, this trial was going to be very ugly for Scientology, with evidence that it works children under horrific conditions, over endless hours, and that it forces young women to have abortions to keep them working around the clock.

Scientology threw two motions for summary judgment at the case and lost them both, appealed one ruling about turning over Laura’s personal files all the way to the US Supreme Court, and most recently filed its own lawsuit against Laura in federal court. Add several judge changes, a dismissal and successful appeal, and it took an enormous time to get here. But with the trial only weeks away, Scientology had run out of its last chance to delay things, and Laura’s attorney John Blumberg cranked up the pressure recently by serving Miscavige with a notice to testify in the proceeding.

While publicly Scientology was filing a motion with the court to get that subpoena quashed last week, privately it scrambled to cut a deal to end the case entirely.

For nine years, Laura DeCrescenzo had fought Scientology’s legal onslaught with devastating testimony and frightening documentation about her treatment in the Sea Org. Every detail of her life was exposed, and she had to sit through aggressive and insulting questioning in depositions with Scientology lawyers. She put herself entirely out there, exposing her family to the potential that one of Scientology’s legal strategies might make all the effort for naught. But now, she walks away victorious, and likely a lot richer, and we only hope it begins to compensate her for what she’s been through. We have put in a request for a statement, but we are skeptical that she’s going to make one.


We have more thoughts about the seven years we’ve been reporting on this case, but first we want to hear from attorney Scott Pilutik, who was following Laura’s ordeal even before she filed her lawsuit…

I’m absolutely thrilled for Laura. I recall speaking with her years ago, before she filed, about the facts of her case, and I’ve been rooting for her like crazy from the sidelines ever since. I knew her story would devastate Scientology should it ever be heard in a courtroom before a jury, and I knew she’d probably prevail if she could survive the gauntlet that lay before her.

I said a little more than a week ago that a last minute settlement wouldn’t have surprised me because, for Scientology, this last decade of expensive motion practice was entirely about avoiding a courtroom where the facts of the case would be heard. And so even though the upcominmg trial was only the trial before the ‘real’ trial, most of the same facts were due to be heard, because in both the issues was Scientology’s very real abuses covering most of Laura’s life up to the point where she left, and even afterward.

I suppose, as is often the case, some people will be disappointed for not getting a trial. I think it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First, it’s not your case, it’s Laura’s. Second, this was a civil, not criminal case, meaning that in the end, Laura was either going to get money, or not get money, whether it be via a trial or settlement. It’s always been within Scientology’s capacity to make the case go away simply by coming up with oodles of money. Finally, the net result of this settlement will in all likelihood result in changes (perhaps small, but still) within Scientology, to avoid the specific conduct that permitted Laura’s case to go as far as it did. Could it mean no more forced abortions for Sea Org members? I guess we’ll see in a few years when future ex-members leave and head for the courtroom.

Thank you, Scott. We too are thrilled for Laura. But as we close the book on this chapter, we want to point something out that has really bugged us throughout this case.

Nine years. Dozens of court hearings, including dramatic moments in court over motions for summary judgment. Mountains of crucial evidence that had to be pried out of the church after it lost appeals all the way to the US Supreme Court. Evidence of the mistreatment of a 12-year-old girl, forced to work 90 hours a week for essentially no pay. Punished for missing her mother. Interrogations before being allowed to see her grandparents. Marriage at 16 to another Sea Org member, and forced to have an abortion at 17, which was Sea Org policy — and documented evidence that the church knew she didn’t want to go along with it. Thrown into the Sea Org’s prison detail for years, with no hope of getting out and seeing her family again. Finally drinking bleach in order to get out of her imprisonment.

All of that, which had primarily taken place in Los Angeles, and litigated over nine years in a Los Angeles courtroom, where Scientology argued quite openly that it can treat the children under its employ as badly as it wants to because of its First Amendment religious protection. And now, the entire circus has ended with probably the largest settlement in Scientology history…

…and not one single word about Laura DeCrescenzo or her lawsuit has ever appeared in the local paper of record, the Los Angeles Times.

Not. One. Word.

This shameful failure by what was once the leading journalistic organization covering Scientology is almost incomprehensible. If someone at that once great institution can help us understand what’s going on there, we’d love to hear it. Please drop us a line.

Well, Laura, we salute you. We would have enjoyed seeing the trial, but we have to admire your stamina and what you’ve endured over nearly a decade to get some justice.

Scientology, meanwhile, escaped the glare of publicity by writing a huge check from its massive reserves…

…of tax-free funds.


[Badass: Laura D’s attorney, John Blumberg.]




Please join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,184 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,787 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 330 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 218 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,393 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,167 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,941 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,287 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,853 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,521 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,781 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,821 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,533 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,059 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,148 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,288 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,608 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,583 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 939 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,241 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,347 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,750 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,622 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,204 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,709 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,953 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,062 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on July 23, 2018 at 15:10

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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