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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Attempt to Overturn Prostitution Laws Denied

March 16, 1994|JULIE TAMAKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge Tuesday denied a motion by a Santa Clarita couple to overturn state prostitution laws that they say prohibit members of their church from practicing rituals that include having sex.

Mary Ellen Tracy, head of the Church of the Most High Goddess, sued Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti last September in an effort to legalize meetings at her church by getting the laws overturned. A favorable ruling would have allowed Tracy to seek a court injunction barring Garcetti's office from enforcing the state laws in her case. Tracy had asked the court to declare the state laws unconstitutional as a result of the recent enactment of federal laws that bar the government from intruding on religions without a compelling reason, said Senior Deputy County Counsel Marion Douglas, who is representing Garcetti.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Madeleine Flier denied Tracy's request, noting that many of the issues raised by Tracy in her lawsuit had been heard during her earlier criminal trial, Douglas said.

Tracy, also known as Sabrina Aset, and her husband Will Tracy, were convicted in 1989 of pimping, pandering, prostitution and keeping a house of ill fame for activities related to their church. A judge sentenced Mary Ellen Tracy to a year in jail and Will Tracy to six months. The couple claimed to absolve the sins of male followers through sexual religious rites. Mary Ellen Tracy said that she had sex with more than 2,000 men, many of whom also gave monetary "sacrifices" to the church.

The Tracys said they will ask the state court of appeals to stop Flier from signing an order finalizing her ruling. "If we teach our religion to a woman we're subject to a three-year mandatory prison sentence," Will Tracy said. "We're totally prohibited."

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