The first in what is to be believed to be a long series of lawsuits against the Church of Scientology was filed on Tuesday by a team of eight victims rights attorneys. The suit is an effort to defend their client and other defectors of the church from actions including human trafficking, child abuse, and forced labor to mention just a few.
Their client, an unnamed Jane Doe, has suffered at the hands of the church since the age of six, when her parents, who were Scientology church members, placed her in the Cadet Organization, a child clergy program. She remained there at their Clearwater headquarters until she was 12.
During that time, Doe says she was subjected to “military-like condition” in which she cleaned and worked from 8 am until midnight each day. According to the complaint, she did not receive proper schooling during that time either.
The complaint also states that age 10, Doe endured the practice known as Bullbaiting. This is used by the church to teach its members to not react to any threat, insult, or word said. According to the church, this enables them to clear their reactive minds and get rid of past trauma and pain.
The lawsuit says, “During the process, adults would say vulgar and sexually explicit things to children and punish them if they showed any visible reaction.” And that “Doe was forced, at the age of 10-years-old, to sit in a chair while adults screamed thing in her face such as, ‘I am going to f—you and then your mother,’” which the lawsuit added is a form of child abuse according to California state laws.
Ron Hubbard, the church’s founder and first leader, taught its members that there are no children, only adults in child bodies. Instead, there are only thetans, which are spirit-like entities reincarnated into bodies. Furthermore, the doctrine of the church demands secrecy and does not allow its members to contact law enforcement. In fact, according to the lawsuit, most phones within the church cannot dial 911.
At age 15, Doe was moved to the Sea Organization in Scientology’s Gold Base, which is a workforce made up of teenagers and adults who sign billion-year contracts with the church. There she became a steward for the church’s leader David Miscavige. According to the lawsuit, she worked with him every day and was subjected to 100 work weeks for only $46.
Doe says that in 2005, Miscavige and his wife’s relationship became very aggressive. And because Doe knew too much of the circumstances, she was removed from her position and placed in “the Hole.” This is a set of doublewide trailers where senior executives are held in isolation upon charges of ethics violations.
According to the complaint, Doe spent three months in the Hole, where she was forced into manual labor before she was released only to be kept on promotional video sets with minimal access to the outside world and physically restrained so she couldn’t leave.
She finally escaped by hiding out in the back of a non-Scientologist actor’s car. She then sought to formally leave the church, so they would stop harassing and following her. The “route out” process, as it is called took another three months.
Since then the church has continued to stalk and harass Doe, even building a website on which it states that Doe is a “documented liar who would say anything for money” and couldn’t hold down a job selling condoms.”
Hubbard also taught the practice of Fair Game, which states anyone who is against the church “may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”
And even though officials from Scientology have stated the Fair Game policy was thrown out nearly 50 years ago, many people on the wrong side of Scientology have been harassed, sued, followed, and publicly smeared as a result.
Doe is only one out of what many believe to be thousands. Philadelphia-based attorney Brian Kent is one of the lawyers defending Doe and says, “This isn’t going to be the last of the lawsuits filed,” and that “We’ve seen what can happen when there is truth exposed in terms of child abuse within organizations. You’ve seen in with the Catholic Church; you’re seeing it with the Southern Baptist Convention now. We’re hoping for meaningful change.”