Scientology Leader Being Sued For Child Trafficking And Forced Labour
Three former workers for the Church of Scientology are suing leader David Miscavige for physical, verbal and sexual abuse.
The three Australians filed the claim in Florida on Thursday (28 April) and are seeking significant ‘compensatory and punitive damages’ against Miscavige and five organisations within the Church of Scientology for human trafficking.
Gawain Baxter, Laura Baxter, and Valeska Paris submitted a 90-page document stating that they ‘grew up in, and were raised by Scientology’, claiming that it was ‘not a peaceful or loving environment; instead, it was a world filled with abuse, violence, intimidation, and fear’.
The documents claim: “Plaintiffs were placed on a ship they could not leave and routinely punished by being humiliated, interrogated, and imprisoned, for the sole purpose of ensuring Plaintiffs would continue to perform back breaking free labor [sic].”
The Church of Scientology has not yet responded to the lawsuit publicly.
The three claim that they signed away contacts that lasted for a billion years whilst they were minors, agreeing to spend the rest of their lives working for Scientology, as well as other lives after this one.
Gawain Baxter and Valeska Paris allege that they were six years old when the contracts were signed.
The three former members claim that they all agreed to work within Sea Org, a strict faction of the church, on cruise ship the Freewinds.
They claim to have been subjected to years of work ‘under highly dangerous and abusive conditions’ and ‘under the direction of [David] Miscavige.
According to their documents, the plaintiffs were forced to give up passports, identification documents, and immigration documents to ‘prevent them from escaping and force [them] to provide free labor [sic] and services.”
Gawain says he ‘was forced to perform arduous physical labor [sic] and menial tasks and punished for any failure to fully comply with the commands of higher-ranking Sea Org members.’
Laura Baxter – who married Gawain later – says that she was punished for an indiscretion by being ‘confined to the extremely hot engine room for three days, allowed to leave for only a few minutes at a time for meals and to return to her room for a few hours of sleep.’
They also claim they were exposed to asbestos and concrete dust.
Paris alleges that she was the victim of verbal, physical and sexual abuse on board the Freewinds, which never docks in US ports, including a ‘confession’ that she wrote after forming a relationship with another crew member.
She said that the ‘confession extracted from Valeska was then posted on the ship’s notice board for the entire crew to read, humiliating Valeska and causing her to be subjected to shame and scorn from the crew,’ according to the documents.
She also claims to have been confined to the engine room for 48 hours for punishment, where she ‘suffered a panic attack, went numb, and was unable to move or call for help. When an engineer discovered her an hour later, he carried her to the control room where she was deprived of medical treatment,’.
It is unclear whether the claims submitted will proceed to court.
UNILAD has contacted the Church of Scientology for a comment.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, 8am–10pm Monday to Friday, 9am–6pm weekends. If you are a child seeking advice and support, call Childline for free on 0800 1111
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