2006: Rev. Magdalen's child custody troubles
In 2006, Rachel Bevilacqua, known as Rev. Magdalen in the SubGenius hierarchy, lost custody and contact with her son after a district court judge took offense at her participation in the Church's X-Day festival. Judge James Punch asked Bevilacqua to explain the humor of pictures from the event, and required that she produce a picture that would "absolutely knock my socks off with the humor of it". Without identifying anything in her testimony as specifically false, Punch pronounced her description of the church's activities as "clearly prevaricating" and "obviously so not true from anybody who's looking at it from any normal perspective" and Bevilacqua herself as "mentally ill" and a "pervert". (Ironically, the Official X-Day Video comes with a humorous instruction pamphlet that, among other things, warns people not to show the film to "normals" because "they will think you are insane".)
Punch subsequently recused himself, and Bevilacqua retained Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria LLP, the law firm of Paul Cambria. On January 5, 2007, district Judge Eric Adams issued a ruling in Bevilacqua's favor requiring her son to be returned to her, but a temporary stay order was issued preventing this ruling from taking effect. The case was apparently ended on July 6, 2007, when a New York appellate court awarded custody of Bevilacqua's son to her ex-boyfriend, the boy's father. However, further incidents resulted in an additional custody hearing in August 2007, with Judge Punch returning to the case. As of August 14, 2007, custody of Bevilacqua's son has been awarded to her, after the boy's father was sentenced to one month in prison (for drunk driving). The legal proceedings were not dismissed until final custody was awarded to Bevilacqua in October of 2009. Despite the legal ruling, members of the Church seized upon a condition of the custody ruling to declare, "The Book of the SubGenius is now officially a banned book."