The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case of a former Colleyville woman who says that a forced traumatic exorcism left her so physically bruised and emotionally scarred that she later tried to commit suicide.
Attorneys for Laura Pearson filed an appeal before the court arguing that the Texas Supreme Court was wrong in tossing out her case against the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God in Colleyville.
In the appeal, Pearson’s attorneys argued that the Texas ruling “dramatically and dangerously departs” from the Supreme Court’s earlier decisions, and that someone’s religious beliefs do not excuse them from being held accountable under valid state laws that prohibit such things as assault and false imprisonment.
Pearson described a night in 1996 that involved casting out demons from the church and two attempts to exorcise demons from her. The incident led Pearson, then 17, to eventually attempt suicide.
According to court documents, Pearson underwent two exorcisms.
One of those episodes was during a youth service, and Pearson reportedly curled into a fetal position and asked church members and staff to be left alone. Church members thought she was in distress and held her down in a “spread eagle” position. Pearson suffered carpet burns and scrapes on her back and bruised wrists.
After the incident, she dropped out of high school her senior year, began to cut herself as many as 100 times over several years and refused to leave the house.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled last year that the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God staff and members are protected by the First Amendment because the case involves an ecclesiastical dispute over religious conduct.
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