Church of Scientology Settles With Former Female Member, Avoids Trial
The Church of Scientology recently reached a settlement agreement with one of its former members, Laura Ann DeCrescenzo, regarding hours she worked as a preteen and an abortion she said the church forced her to have, avoiding trial. The former member claimed she had to work excessively long hours when she was still very young and had to abort her child at seventeen. Both the church and its Religious Technology Center were named as defendants in the case and DeCrescenzo had accused them of unfair business practices, wage violations, forced abortion, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
John Blumberg, DeCrescenzo’s attorney, subpoenaed Scientology leader David Miscavige, but the defendants vigorously sought to dismiss the order for him to appear. “Based on their actions in trying to prevent David Miscavige from testifying, it would lead one to the inescapable conclusion that preventing an order he testify was very important to them,” concluded Blumberg.
DeCrescenzo said she had begun volunteering to do work at the Orange County church at age six or seven. At seven, she was part of a Scientology group organized to picket the same courthouse where the trial of her lawsuit was scheduled to take place. She said the demonstration showed the church’s ability to “go to every length to bring down people who filed lawsuits” against it.
“I believed that if I took any action against the Church of Scientology — whether filing a lawsuit or even speaking negatively about the Church of Scientology — that I would be subjected to severe retribution, including significant financial penalties and loss of my family,” DeCrescenzo said under oath. Then, when she was twelve, she was asked to join the organization’s Sea Org and was subsequently responsible for overseeing the delivery of the religion around the world. In the beginning, she was required to work every day from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Then, two more hours were added. She held her post until the age of 25.
DeCrescenso said she was informed she could not leave Sea Org once she accepted her position and was released from duty only after she pretended to take her own life by ingesting bleach. DeCrescenzo also said she became pregnant in February 1996 and the church forced her to have an abortion to show her allegiance to Sea Org rather than risk losing her.
When DeCresceno first tried to take her case to court, it was dismissed. However, the 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed the decision in June 2011 and it was then reviewed to determine whether it could still proceed given the statute of limitations which may have disallowed the claims due to time restrictions. The case passed review and a trial was set, beginning with a non-jury trial to determine whether the plaintiff had acted reasonably in waiting so long to take her case up in court. Then, if reasonability was proven, a jury would decide if the church should be held liable and be required to pay damages. The ability for the case to proceed likely prompted the church to settle.