Tom Cruise denies in defamation lawsuit he 'abandoned' daughter Suri

By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Tom Cruise called reports that he had abandoned his daughter Suri after his divorce from actress Katie Holmes "patently false" in court documents for a defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit against a German media company.

In a declaration that offered a rare glimpse into the actor's marriage and his Scientology religion, Cruise said he had "in no way cut Suri out of my life - whether physically, emotionally, financially or otherwise."

The declaration was filed this week in California federal court as part of the ongoing lawsuit, which is asking for $50 million in damages.

In a September video deposition as part of the lawsuit, Cruise's life with Holmes and Suri came under scrutiny. In court transcripts, the 51-year-old actor said that while Holmes, 34, was a practitioner of Scientology before and during their marriage, she left the church when she filed for divorce.

He said one of Holmes' "assertions" for the divorce was that she wanted to protect Suri from Scientology. He added that 7-year-old Suri, his daughter from his marriage to Holmes, was not currently practicing the religion.

The initial lawsuit was filed by Cruise in October 2012 against Bauer Publishing Company, after the company's magazines had published reports claiming Cruise had abandoned Suri following the couple's 2012 divorce.

Bauer's publications include U.S. celebrity magazines Life & Style, and InTouch Weekly.

"'Has he chosen Scientology over Suri for good? Abandoned by Daddy.' I mean come on, that is absolutely disgusting. That is absolutely disgusting," Cruise said in the video deposition.

"I'm very privileged to be able to have the life that I have, and I believe that. But there is a line that - that I draw for myself and - and that's it. And I asked for an apology. I asked for a retraction. They denied it."

The court transcripts from the September 9 deposition showed that Cruise had only seen Suri for 10 days in the immediate five months after Holmes filed for divorce from the actor in June 2012.

The actor said he found questions regarding whether Holmes had left him and Scientology to protect their daughter "offensive," and said "there are many different other aspects to the divorce."

"Like with any relationship, there are many different levels to it ... I find it very offensive. There is no need to protect my daughter from my religion," he said.

Representatives for Cruise did not immediately return Reuters' requests for comment.

Cruise, who has become part of Hollywood's A-list and fronts action franchises including the "Mission Impossible" films, is one of the highest profile members of the Church of Scientology, a religion founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1954.

Followers of Scientology believe humans are immortal beings whose existence extends beyond one lifetime, but critics of the church describe it as a cult that harasses people who try to quit.

Actress Leah Remini was one of the most prominent celebrities to leave the Church of Scientology earlier this year, and has spoken out about being cut off by many friends due to her decision.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Mary Milliken and Eric Beech)

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