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Metropolitan Digest / Los Angeles County News In Brief

NEWHALL : Convicted Prostitute Loses Nature Center Post

January 13, 1993

Mary Ellen Tracy, who was convicted of prostitution for practicing a religion that preaches absolution through sex, has been told not to return to work as a volunteer docent at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center in Newhall.

The Canyon Country mother of eight said she was removed from the volunteer roster on Dec. 17 after being told by park officials that publicity surrounding her work there was hurting the park and upsetting some of the parents of schoolchildren that had field trips scheduled. Tracy's work at the center was widely covered in newspapers and television and even prompted a joke by Jay Leno on the "Tonight Show."

Tracy, 50, said she plans to file a lawsuit against John Weber, a Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department administrator, and possibly other parks officials. She alleged that her civil rights had been violated, and said she would seek a court order reinstating her as a park docent.

"They were very upset by the media," Tracy said of parks officials. "They admitted that I had done nothing wrong and that they were very happy with what I had done in the program."

Tracy, who holds a master's degree in environmental science and chemistry, began volunteering at Placerita Canyon in November.

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