The Church of Scientology is facing a growing scandal after a former member claimed the church forced her to have an abortion and later falsely imprisoned her, forcing her into painful punishments.
Laura DeCrescenzo is claiming that when she was 17 years old, the Church of Scientology forced her to abort her pregnancy. As KABC reported, DeCrescenzo had originally filed a lawsuit in 2009 and won a ruling this week from the L.A. County Superior Court for the case to move forward.
DeCrescenzo has a laundry list of other claims against the church, the OC Weekly reported. They include false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unfair business practices and wage-and-hour violations. Laura claims that church officials intimidated her after she became pregnant as a teenager, telling her that she would be left homeless and unemployed and that she would never see her husband again if she decided to keep the baby.
Her time with the church remained strained after that. DeCrescenzo claimed that in 2001, she was sent to a punishment program known as “Rehabilitation Project Force.” Laura claims that she was “beaten down” during the three years that followed, forced to do manual labor and physical punishments like push-ups or running around a basement.
“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. You’re not allowed to go anywhere without another person. You’re watched 24/7,” says DeCrescenzo.
DeCrescenzo remained in the church another 12 years after the alleged forced abortion, but left in 2008 after coming across an internet message board where former members shared their horror stories of the church.
Officials from the Church of Scientology have vehemently denied DeCrescenzo’s claims.
The lawsuit comes amid another growing scandal for the controversial church. Lawyers for church leader David Miscavige are in an all-out effort to stop the publication of a tell-all book from Miscavige’s father, Ron Miscavige.
The book, titled, Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me, is slated for a May 3 release in the U.K. But the powerful law firm Johnsons Solicitors has sent a letter to London-based publisher Silvertail Books warning of a defamation suit if the book is published, Scientology watchdog Tony Ortega reported on his website.
The lawsuit threats could be setting up a court battle between David Miscavige and his own father, which itself would be a huge story.
The Hollywood Reporter reported on some of the alleged details that book shares.
“Many if not all of these claims have been previously made in other Scientology exposés, including Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief. The 2013 book was released througout the U.S. and Europe, but, due to its libel laws, not in Britain; last month, Silvertail announced it would finally release the book there. (The accompanying Going Clear film aired in the U.K. on Sky Atlantic in September 2015 and was the most watched documentary on the channel in three years.)”
But even under threat of lawsuit from the Church of Scientology, the U.K.-based publisher said the book will still be published next week as planned.
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