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Tags: scientology | lawsuit | david miscavige

3 Scientology Defectors Sue Church Leader, Say They Were Trafficked as Children

3 Scientology Defectors Sue Church Leader, Say They Were Trafficked as Children
David Miscavige, chairman of the board of the Religious Technology Center and ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion, dedicates a new Church of Scientology on Jan. 21, 2017, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Church of Scientology via Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 29 April 2022 07:52 PM EDT

Three Scientology defectors are suing the church's leader, David Miscavige, amid allegations that they were trafficked as children and forced into "dangerous" labor aboard the Sea Org ships. 

This week, Gawain Baxter, his wife, Laura, and Valeska Paris sued the Clearwater, Florida-based church, saying they had been forced into working on the ships from as young as age 6.

As part of that, the trio apparently signed contracts promising "one billion years" of service to the church, for "low or even no pay."

One website defines Scientology as a "religious system based on the seeking of self-knowledge and spiritual fulfillment through graded courses of study and training."

Gawain Baxter says he was placed in a Sea Org nursery by his parents when he was just 2 months old. Five years later, after signing the "billion-years" contract, he was assigned to live in a Cadet Org dormitory, along with 100 other children.

The lawsuit reads: "Children over six years old are considered to be and are frequently told that they are adults and that they should act and expect to be treated as adults. They are not even called children; rather they must be referred to as 'Cadets.'"

At the next stage of life, the group says that the church resorted to similarly deflating tactics.

The lawsuit states: "From the ages of six to fourteen, Gawain was not permitted to attend any accredited public or private school. Instead, schoolwork consisted of two to three hours per day of basic reading, writing, and math in a classroom of thirty other children, under the supervision of Linda Hilton, Cadet Coordinator's spouse.

"Beginning when Gawain was ten years old, he was required to spend one to two hours daily in Scientology indoctrination courses as well. 

"The cost of each course was recorded as a debt that Gawain was told he would owe if he ever left Cadet Org or Sea Org," the lawsuit alleges. 

According to the Daily Mail, Scientology and Miscavige have not yet responded to the claims in the lawsuit.  

Gawain Baxter also says that when he was 14, he was forced to perform up to 12 hours a day of unpaid labor, cleaning and renovating properties. 

"Gawain was sleep-deprived, given inadequate time to eat, and verbally abused by his adult supervisors," the trio's attorney said.

Paris alleges she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a Sea Org supervisor. Her duties included landscaping and caring for newborns who were born to other members. 

When Paris was 17, her mother fled the church. Paris alleges that she was punished for her mother's actions. 

Paris also states that one of her punishments was being locked in an engine room on the ship for 48 hours, with the temperature in that area exceeding 100 degrees. 

Paris decided to leave the church in around 2011. By then, she had been taken by the organization to Australia. She claims the church confiscated her passport, leaving with her "no identification and no money."

Paris left the church by willfully getting pregnant — which was banned on the ship. She even pretended to still be pregnant after miscarrying the child, according to the Daily Mail.

The lawsuit alleges: "Another senior officer then screamed at Valeska, telling her she would get cancer and die if she left, and reminding her that she would have to repay all her freeloader debt. 

"Valeska was aware that Sea Org members are not permitted to have children, so she purposely became pregnant and refused demands that she terminate her pregnancy. 

"After six weeks, Valeska miscarried but continued to pretend to be pregnant so that she would be forced to leave Sea Org."

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Three Scientology defectors are suing the church's leader, David Miscavige, amid allegations that they were trafficked as children and forced into "dangerous" labor aboard the Sea Org ships.
scientology, lawsuit, david miscavige
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2022-52-29
Friday, 29 April 2022 07:52 PM
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