RUTHERFORDTON — It has been a busy and emotional week for Lacy Wien.
Now, Wien and her lawyer Peter Lane of Rutherfordton have gotten a hearing scheduled for the end of this month to put a stop to what they say is excessive and unethical behavior by the WOFF attorneys in a civil suit.
Wien filed her civil suit a little more than a year ago, seeking $2.8 million in damages for what Wien says was years of physical and emotional abuse while she was a member of the church.
More recently, Wien filed a criminal complaint against Whaley which was finally heard yesterday in district court. Whaley was found guilty of misdemeanor assault.
The hearing for the civil suit, scheduled for March 29 at 10 a.m. in Superior Court, seeks a protective order to limit the lengths to which the defendants can go to seek evidence.
Lane spoke bluntly about his opinions on the church’s practices.
“It is my opinion that this place is not only bizarre, but the secular practices of this quote-unquote church are illegal,” said Lane in a Thursday interview. “It is time for us to stop tiptoeing around this place.”
Lane said Wien’s civil case revolves around the violation of her basic constitutional rights.
“We feel that Lacy has certain fundamental rights that have been violated including the right of free speech, the right of association with whomever she pleases, the right to go wherever she pleases, the right to earn a living in any place she desires and her own right to freedom of religion,” said Lane. “The law should, does, and will protect her rights.”
Lane is requesting that some recent behavior of the church’s lawyers be reported to the North Carolina Bar Disciplinary Committee for action on alleged ethical violations.
The notice states both the length and number of depositions are excessive.
David B. Goldstein of a New York City law firm deposed Wien for 15 hours over the course of two days in February. After the second day, Goldstein said he would need three additional days to complete his deposition.
After deposing Wien and her husband Ruben, church attorneys made requests for depositions of 45 other people including Lane, Lane’s wife Katrina who is em-ployed in Lane’s office, and attorney Ed Hensley who is assisting Lane.
The notice states that questions posed by WOFF attorneys were outside the bounds of the civil suit and constituted discovery on a non-existent case.
“(The deposition) was intended by defendants’ attorneys to conduct discovery before an action without a Court order in direct violation of Rule 27(a)(1) of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure,” the notice reads in reference to the defendants’ accusation of bias against Lane and others.
The notice contends that the extra questioning and excessively long depositions amount to an unnecessary increase in the cost of litigation for which Lane is seeking sanctions.
Two of the multiple attorneys involved in defending the WOFF are Goldstein and John Gresham of Charlotte who are also representing the church in a federal lawsuit against the Rutherford County Department of Social Services.
Goldstein’s firm has been active for years in defending the Church of Scientology.
The notice states that the intent of some of the requested depositions appears to be that of gathering information for the federal suit against DSS.
Included in that is a request to search the home computer of Brad Greenway, a DSS attorney. Greenway worked on the DSS case in which Judge Randy Pool removed four children from the home of two WOFF ministers.
- Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, A Manual on the Dissemination of Material
“It is the reasonable and unqualified opinion of the plaintiff’s counsel that the defendants are attempting to conduct discovery for their federal civil rights cause of action…,” the notice states. “It is clear to plaintiff’s counsel that the defendants have begun a course of discovery that is a blatant and idiotic effort to unduly burden the plaintiff with cumulative, duplicative, and expensive discovery.”
In addition to Greenway’s computer, the notice states that WOFF attorneys have sought permission to search all the publicly accessible computers in the county and contacted a library representative to that end.
Their request was denied on grounds of the privacy of library patrons.
The church attorneys have accused Lane of ethical misconduct because of some help given to the Wiens for accommodations and gas. Lane said the appropriate place to take those accusations is the state bar and not as part of depositions for this civil case. He said there is nothing to hide as helping clients of lower income levels with such expenses is acceptable.
During Wednesday’s district court case, Wien testified about the assault for which Whaley was convicted. She said it took her nearly two years to file the charge because of persistent fear of what Whaley might do to her.
Wien said her day-long testimony at a September hearing gave her the confidence she needed to pursue the charge.
The hearing was part of the DSS proceeding after which the four children of Shana Muse were removed from the home of a church couple and placed in DSS custody.
Muse has recently filed a criminal complaint against her sister and three others currently in the church for false imprisonment while Muse was a member of the WOFF.