The news yesterday was all about Laura DeCrescenzo’s lawsuit against Scientology, Inc.
Her case was initially dismissed due to the statute of limitations on such complaints. Happily, the justice system is flexible enough to evolve to meet special needs; in this case, laws protecting children and vulnerable adults from exploitation by organizations such as destructive cults and human traffickers.
Ms. DeCrescenzo started working as staff at age nine. By age ten, she was working full time for the organization. When she turned 12, she signed the billion year contract and joined Scientology’s paramilitary Sea Organization. She was totally dependent upon Scientology for her meals, shelter and information. When she left the Sea Org, she was only let go after attempting suicide by drinking bleach. She continued to be an adherent for a number of years before finally leaving. Up until that time, she had refrained from looking at material critical of Scientology.
Her complaint included long work hours, wretched living conditions, lack of personal freedom and broken promises of family contact. When she fell pregnant at age 16, she was faced with a choice; either abort the baby or be expelled from the only life she’d ever known.
Her complaint was rejected due to statute of limitation constraints, but was open to amendment. She came back with an amended complaint alleging ongoing harassment and intimidation from the “church,” which prevented her from filing earlier.
It was only after rejecting Scientology after years of adherence that she read material on the internet that verified her suspicions of abuse and prompted her to file a lawsuit.
This is where the protection kicks in. It took her years to become aware that she’d been the victim of exploitation and trafficking. With her amended complaint, the court ruled that the statute of limitations in the various elements of her case began to run on the day she realized she had been abused, exploited and intimidated by the organization that basically forced her to waste her childhood working for them, rather than going to school and being a kid.
If a dependent’s actions are influenced by a person or organization, such as being intimidated from filing a complaint in court, this is an important factor as well. Her amended complaint refers to harassing and intimidation from representatives of the Scientology organization, which prevented her from seeking justice.
The federal court has determined that her complaint can go forward under the delayed discovery laws usually invoked for victims of childhood sexual abuse. This is bad news for Scientology, Inc. as her complaint is full of horrific details of life in Scientology’s in-house prison, the Rehabilitation Project Force, and life as a 12 old slave in Scientology’s Sea Org.
Child labor, coerced abortions, prison camps, lack of personal freedom, harsh working conditions under punitive rule by superiors, trafficking children across state lines for illegal labor; these elements totally contradict the Scientology organization’s PR image as a bunch of concerned citizens trying to stop drug abuse, end illiteracy, end human rights violations (lolwut) and being valuable contributing members of communities.
And in other news, the head of the Scientology organization in Norway was arrested after he confronted picketers and shoved them, and then got into a shoving match with police officers called to restore the peace.