A woman who began doing volunteer work for the Church of Scientology in Orange County when she was age 6 or 7 got a judge removed Wednesday in her lawsuit against the institution that she alleges coerced her into having an abortion when she was 17.
The lawsuit first filed by Laura Ann DeCrescenzo in 2009 alleges the Church of Scientology engaged in human trafficking, obstructing justice, employment violations, discrimination and violation of privacy. It's being heard in the same Los Angeles Superior Court civil courthouse that DeCrescenzo claims to have picketed at age 7 with other church members out to prove the institution would "go to every length to bring down people who filed lawsuits" against the Church of Scientology. That's right, Marty McFly, she essentially protested against her future self.
DeCrescenzo's attorney John Blumberg convinced Judge Richard Rico to remove himself from the case due to the jurist's social relationship with LA Superior Court Judge Leslie Swain and her husband Bert Deixler, who is an attorney for the church. Blumberg explained he did not believe Rico would have been biased but that he perhaps could have been "unconsciously favorable" in rulings due to his friendship with Deixler and Swain.
It's now up to the court's presiding judge to reassign the case, perhaps in as early as two weeks, reports City News Service.
Rico had inherited the case from Judge Ronald Sohigian, who retired on April 16. Sohigian had dismissed the suit in March 2010, after the defense argued too much time had passed before DeCrescenzo sued.
A three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed that decision in June 2011, sending the case back to Sohigian to determine whether the church could raise the statute of limitations as a defense.
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Years after joining the church in Orange County, DeCrescenzo claims she was 12 when she was recruited to join its elite Sea Org, for which she claims to have been initially required to work for daily from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Two more hours a day were later tacked on, she adds.
DeCrescenzo says she became pregnant in February 1996, alleging the church persuaded her to abort her fetus to show her allegiance to Sea Org and the long hours. It's an allegation other women have made dating back to Sea Org's operations at sea during the mid-1970s through the opening of the Scientology and Sea Org land base in Hemet.
Claiming to have been told she could never leave Sea Org, DeCrescenzo alleges she only managed to do so in 2004 when, by then 25, she pretended to attempt suicide by swallowing bleach. She left the church for good four years later.