US Supreme Court may hear exorcism case

US Supreme Court may hear exorcism case
January 22, 2009
by Patricia Marin

LegalNewsline reports that the US Supreme Court has been asked to hear the case of a former Texas woman who claims she was abused during a forced exorcism in 1996. Laura Schubert, 29, says she was cut and bruised and later experienced hallucinations after the members of the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God performed an exorcism on her in 1996.

She sued the Colleyville, Texas, church in 2002. A Tarrant County jury found the church and its members liable for abuse and falsely imprisoning the girl. She was awarded $300,000. An appeals court in Fort Worth later reduced the verdict to $188,000.

The Texas Supreme Court rejected the jury award in late June, ruling that the exorcism was a matter of church doctrine and subject to certain First Amendment religious protections, and thus the case would "unconstitutionally entangle the court in matters of church doctrine."

In its 6-3 decision, the state's high court ruled that a lower court erred when it said the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God's First Amendment rights regarding freedom of religion did not prevent the church from being held liable for mental distress brought on by a "hyper-spiritualistic environment." At trial, attorneys for the church said Schubert's psychological problems were triggered by traumatic events she witnessed with her missionary parents in Africa.

This case may have some interesting implications for us as paranormal investigators. Many groups, including R.I.P., perform clearings and I've recently referred a case to a professional exorcist. It's obviously essential for paranormal organizations to have the proper legal forms prepared and signed by their clients prior to starting an investigation. At R.I.P., we always have our clients sign a "Permission to Investigate/Waiver of Liability" form and individual investigators are required to have a standard "hold harmless" agreement on file before participating in any investigations. If a case is being filmed, we also have owners/trustees sign a "Location Release," as well as "Model Release" forms for everyone who will appear on camera. R.I.P. also specifically states on its "Waiver" form that none of us are qualified to diagnose or treat any physical or mental illness, nor are we qualified to render an opinion as to a recommended course of treatment. We also state that that no specific results are either predicted or guaranteed from any of our actions.
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