Scientology bans attorney from wedding reception

Denis deVlaming said church has vendetta

By all accounts, Jack Vasilaros said his daughter's wedding was a huge success. Four hundred guests, top-shelf food and an enormous venue in the Crystal Ballroom of the Fort Harrison Hotel.

"This thing was big time, OK?" Vasilaros said. "My phone's been smoking with guests saying they had a great time." 

The pictures inside the event proved his point. His daughter, Marina, is shown dancing with the groom as hundreds watched the circular dance floor.

"The whole floor was covered in money," Vasilaros said.

And while the guests praised the high-dollar event, one couple found themselves on the outside looking in.

Prominent Clearwater attorney Denis deVlaming was banned from the event by the owner of the Fort Harrison Hotel, the Church of Scientology.

"Without a doubt it has to do with my defense of people who criticize the church," deVlaming said.  

Scientology officials require that a guest list be provided in order to use the ballroom on their property. Apparently, they didn't approve deVlaming and his wife.

"They're vindictive in going against anybody who has ever criticized them and defended somebody who's criticized them," deVlaming said.

The Church of Scientology said that the decision had nothing to do with deVlaming's professional history but instead his personal views.

"The only disgruntled person has been Mr. Denis deVlaming who has a documented history of personal attacks and bigotry against the Church of Scientology," wrote Pat Harney, public affairs director for the church.

The church also said the guests complimented its staff for creating a joyous event for the bride, groom, friends and family.

Vasilaros agreed. While he would have liked to have had his long-time friend attend the wedding reception, he accepted the decision to ban deVlaming.

"I wasn't about to let anything get in the way of my daughter's wedding," Vasilaros said. "They have rules. It didn't happen. You move on."

deVlaming said that the Church of Scientology has hosted thousands of events at the Fort Harrison Hotel, and he's never heard of anyone being banned before. For that reason, he believes he was targeted by the church.

"At every turn they want to be accepted in Clearwater, and at very turn they do the exact opposite," deVlaming said. "They did it as part of a vengeance against me."




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