LOS ANGELES — A court has ruled that a woman’s lawsuit against the so-called Church of Scientology may proceed following a seven year battle to have her case heard over accusations that she was forced to have an abortion as a teenager.
According to reports, Laura Ann DeCrescenzo became involved with the Church of Scientology at age six as a volunteer. By age twelve, she had moved out of her parents’ house and into the organization’s “Pac Base” in Hollywood and signed a billion year contract with the elite Sea Org. She worked from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and soon had her hours extended by two hours.
“I wasn’t allowed to speak with my family. You’re not allowed to have more than twenty dollars on you at any given time,” DeCrescenzo told reporters during a press conference in 2010. “You’re not allowed to go anywhere without another person. You’re watched 24/7.”
As a married girl at age 17, DeCrescenzo became pregnant, and in her lawsuit, she states that she was forced to obtain an abortion. DeCrescenzo says although she did not want to end the pregnancy, she was told that it was “only tissue.”
“Defendants forced Plaintiff to have an abortion by threatening Plaintiff with losing her job, housing, and losing her husband if she did not have an abortion,” the lawsuit reads.
DeCrescenzo says that as the result of the abortion, she “suffers from severe emotional stress, including anxiety, embarrassment, humiliation, shame, depression, feelings of powerlessness and anguish.”
“I never agreed to have an abortion,” she told reporters. “Did I concede? Yes, I did. Does it kill me every day? Yes, it does.”
In 2004, she tried to break out of the Church of Scientology by pretending to commit suicide.
“I actually took a gulp of bleach because I knew that if I was considered a suicide risk, they would get rid of me immediately,” DeCrescenzo recalled in 2010.
In 2008, at age 25, she left the organization for good.
Since 2009, DeCrescenzo her lawsuit has been making its way through the courts. The Church of Scientology denies that it forced DeCrescenzo to have an abortion and doesn’t believe that the courts should be the arbiter of the situation.
“To be clear, defendants do not argue that a church may physically force a woman to have an abortion,” attorney Bert Deixler wrote for the organization in filed briefs. “But that is not the issue here. Under the First Amendment, churches may encourage a minister of a religious order to forego child rearing so she or he may continue a religious life. Courts may not interfere with those efforts.”
On Wednesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Doyle denied a request by Deixler to dismiss the case, allowing the matter to now move ahead to trial.
DeCrescenzo is suing over forced abortion, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and other accusations.