The following comes from a July 18 story in New York’s Village Voice.
Laura DeCrescenzo had just got out of a two-and-a-half-hour deposition with attorneys for the Church of Scientology when I talked to her on the telephone yesterday at her home in Albuquerque.
All told, over the three years she’s been suing Scientology for the way she was treated as a young Sea Org employee — including, she alleges, being forced to have an abortion at 17 so she could keep working extreme hours without interruption — she’s been deposed a total of four and a half days.
“The depositions are awful,” she says. “It sets me on fire so I want to keep fighting, but it’s also so exhausting.”
Just keeping up with what’s happened to her lawsuit since she first filed it in 2009 has also been exhausting — the case has been to state and federal courts, to a state appeals court, and now back to a state trial judge, and it’s still a year from an actual trial date. And, as our legal expert Scott Pilutik tells us, DeCrescenzo still has serious hurdles to overcome to even reach that jury trial. But a year ago, Pilutik explained to us that the consequences of this single case are enormous for Scientology, which helps explain why the church is fighting it so hard.
If Laura DeCrescenzo can get her story heard in court, the result could be devastating.
Those of us who have been watching the progress of her case were somewhat caught off guard, however, when a couple of tabloid websites yesterday proclaimed that DeCrescenzo’s lawsuit was somehow new and also “exclusive” breaking news, neither of which are true.
“Yeah, that was really strange,” Laura says. But even if her case isn’t new, it’s still a remarkable one that’s worth wider coverage.
But here’s the thing about that coverage: it really should explain that DeCrescenzo’s experience has been as much about the way Scientology litigates a case as the horrors her lawsuit is alleging.
It’s stomach-turning to hear about DeCrescenzo’s life as a young Sea Org member, working under extreme conditions, and then forced to terminate a pregnancy or risk losing her job, her husband, her family.
But it’s just as frustrating to learn that the reason she’s had such trouble in court is that she says Scientology spent years intimidating her with even more threats to her well-being should she dare go against the church, and then had the audacity to argue in court that it was DeCrescenzo’s fault that she didn’t file her lawsuit sooner.
That’s what is really at the center of the DeCrescenzo legal odyssey, and why she was being interrogated by five representatives from the church yesterday.
“They’re still focusing on the statute of limitations,” she says. “They’re trying to discredit me.”
Poring over thousands of documents from her time as a church employee, the attorneys were trying to build a case, DeCrescenzo says, that the documents showed that she had actual “successes” as a Scientologist, and had not expressed the kind of emotional distress that she’s alleging in the lawsuit.
“Honestly, I was totally brainwashed and thought I was bettering myself,” she says. And if she didn’t show much emotion then, it was because a key part of Scientology is training members to banish it from their lives.
But now she knows better.
Also, she says, she constantly has to battle the church attorneys during the depositions over terminology. “They’re always trying to put words in my mouth.”
When she gave an answer about having a forced abortion, for example, she says one of the church attorneys began his next question by saying, “So, when you made the decision to have an abortion rather than leave…”
“I had to stop him. ‘No, I was forced to have an abortion.’ So we ended up going back and forth arguing about that,” she says.
“I think my case is too unbelievable for most people to grasp,” she adds. “It’s almost too unbelievable for me. The fact that I started in the Sea Org at 12 and all that happened, it’s just incredible.”
To reader entire story, click here.