You’ve seen “The Exorcist,” you know what happens. She screams, the preachers lays hands, Jesus does his majestic part, and they all live happily ever after… or some such. That didn’t happen at Pleasant Glade Assembly of God church in Colleyville, Texas, according to this recap story from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
After the aerobic activity in Jesus name, the family eventually sued the church, saying that their daughter had been abused and falsely imprisoned, but the 2002 trial never touched on the religious aspects of the case. The church’s attorneys told a Tarrant County jury that Schubert’s [the girl in question] psychological problems were caused by traumatic events she witnessed while her parents were serving as missionaries in Africa.
During the incident, asked for by the girl’s parents, she suffered carpet burns, a scrape on her back and bruises on her wrists. Evidently, after the exorcism, it was quite the gossip button and Schubert experienced angry outbursts, weight loss and self-mutilation and eventually dropped out of high school her senior year. She was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Long story, short. The Schuberts won $300K for mental anguish, but then the Texas Supreme Court intervened and cut that amount in half.
“Freedom to believe may be absolute, but freedom of conduct is not, and ‘conduct even under a religious guise remains subject to regulation for public safety,’ ” Chief Justice Medina wrote.
[David] Pruessner, the church’s attorney, agreed, saying that church members were simply trying to help Schubert and that there wasn’t any evil intent.
“This was clearly a religious controversy, and I don’t see how anyone can argue that they were seizing on religion as a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Pruessner said. “I disagree vehemently with the spiritual beliefs of the church and how they handled it; it doesn’t mean they are legally liable.”
Man! Whoever thought when Linda Blair spit up all that split pea soup, it would have caused some sort of legal precedent. Hollywood, eh?