Exorcism Case May Go to Supreme Court

Reply Sat 27 Dec, 2008 08:07 pm

Here is a case of abuse trying to disguise itself as protected religious practice. So I hope the Supremes decide.

FORT WORTH " Lawyers for a former Colleyville woman who accused her fellow church members of abuse during a forced exorcism in 1996 when she was a teen have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review her case.

Laura Schubert alleged that members of the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God held her down, bruising her wrists and leaving carpet burns on her back when she was 17 and then known as Laura Pearson.

This summer, the Texas Supreme Court threw out a jury award Schubert received for her injuries, reasoning that it unconstitutionally drew the court into religious matters.

But Schubert's attorneys argue that the Texas Supreme Court's decision improperly tried to expand the First Amendment's religious protections. Schubert contends that someone's religious beliefs do not protect them from state laws prohibiting crimes such as assault and false imprisonment, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in Saturday's editions.

"The Texas Supreme Court's majority ignored some of the most relevant U.S. Supreme Court decisions and then misapplied others," said Scott Gant, a Washington, D.C. attorney representing Schubert and her family. He expects the court to decide by mid- to late January whether it will take the case.

Attorneys for the church, which has merged with another Colleyville congregation, write in legal briefs that the case has no business before the U.S. Supreme Court because it is a personal injury lawsuit for mental anguish damages and because it concerns protected religious conduct.

In a brief filed with the court, church attorney David Pruessner described the church's activities as "spiritual warfare."

"This was simply normal church life for (Schubert) and her family," Pruessner wrote.

Schubert testified in 2002 that she was cut and bruised and later suffered hallucinations after churchgoers pinned her to the floor for hours in an attempt to exorcise a demon. She later repeatedly cut herself and attempted suicide.

A Tarrant County jury found the Colleyville church and its members liable for abusing and falsely imprisoning the girl. The jury awarded her $300,000, though the 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth later reduced the verdict to $188,000.

Schubert, now 29, lives in Georgia
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Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 12:07 am
An alleged assault allegedly involving injuries has something to do with the state not getting involved in religion?

Assault is assault.

What next? Human sacrifice judged as not suitable for the courts to rule on?

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Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 04:07 pm
The more odious implication is that the Supreme Court of Texas believes that the right to free religious expression entails the right to act upon or against a person without regard to whether or not the person in question is known to adhere to the religious belief in question. It takes away the free agency of the individual who is acted upon.
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Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 05:12 pm
Although some of the legal issues are different, the same Texas Supreme Court returned FLDS children to parents who were possibly abusing them based on FLDS religious beliefs.
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 05:53 pm
The FLDS kids were returned because the state had not followed state law re the removal of children from their homes, it was not decided on the basis of religous rights.

The lower court found that no consent was given for the exorcism by either the girl or her parents......it follows that this was abuse.
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 06:08 pm
The most complete discription of events that I have found:
On Friday evening, before her parents left town, Laura [Schubert, a 17-year-old congregant,] attended a youth group activity at Pleasant Glade in preparation for a garage sale the next day. The atmosphere during this event became spiritually charged after one of the youth announced he had seen a demon near the sanctuary. The youth minister, Rod Linzay, thereupon called the group together to hear the story, and after hearing it, agreed that demons were indeed present. Linzay instructed the youth to anoint everything in the church with holy oil and led a spirited effort throughout the night to cast out the demons. Finally, on Saturday morning at about 4:30 a.m., Linzay gathered the exhausted youth together to announce that he had seen a cloud of the presence of God fill the church and that God had revealed a vision to him. Although exhausted, the young people assisted with the garage sale later that morning.

At the Sunday morning worship service the next day, several young people gave testimonials about the spiritual events of the preceding day. At the conclusion of the service, the youth, including Laura and her brother, prayed at the altar. During these prayers, Laura’s brother became "slain in the spirit," collapsing to the floor where church members continued to pray into the early afternoon.

Later that afternoon, Laura returned to church for another youth activity and the Sunday evening worship service. During the evening service, Laura collapsed. After her collapse, several church members took Laura to a classroom where they "laid hands" on her and prayed. According to Laura, church members forcibly held her arms crossed over her chest, despite her demands to be freed. According to those present, Laura clenched her fists, gritted her teeth, foamed at the mouth, made guttural noises, cried, yelled, kicked, sweated, and hallucinated. The parties sharply dispute whether these actions were the cause or the result of her physical restraint.

Church members, moreover, disagreed about whether Laura’s actions were a ploy for attention or the result of spiritual activity. Laura stated during the episode that Satan or demons were trying to get her. After the episode, Laura also allegedly began telling other church members about a "vision." Yet, her collapse and subsequent reaction to being restrained may also have been the result of fatigue and hypoglycemia. Laura had not eaten anything substantive that day and had missed sleep because of the spiritual activities that weekend. Whatever the cause, Laura was eventually released after she calmed down and complied with requests to say the name "Jesus."

On Monday and Tuesday, Laura continued to participate in church-related activities without any problems, raising money for Vacation Bible School and preparing for youth drama productions. Her parents returned from their trip on Tuesday afternoon.

On Wednesday evening, Laura attended the weekly youth service presided by Rod Linzay. According to Linzay, Laura began to act in a manner similar to the Sunday evening episode. Laura testified that she curled up into a fetal position because she wanted to be left alone. Church members, however, took her unusual posture as a sign of distress. At some point, Laura collapsed and writhed on the floor. Again, there is conflicting evidence about whether Laura’s actions were the cause or result of being physically restrained by church members and about the duration and force of the restraint. According to Laura, the youth, under the direction of Linzay and his wife, Holly, held her down. Laura testified, moreover, that she was held in a "spread eagle" position with several youth members holding down her arms and legs. The church’s senior pastor, Lloyd McCutchen, was summoned to the youth hall where he played a tape of pacifying music, placed his hand on Laura’s forehead, and prayed. During the incident, Laura suffered carpet burns, a scrape on her back, and bruises on her wrists and shoulders. Laura’s parents were subsequently called to the church. After collecting their daughter, the Schuberts took her out for a meal and then home. Laura did not mention her scrapes and bruises to her parents that night.


hearing all of the details this is now clear as mud......
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