Church of Scientology sued for physical, emotional abuse by ex-member
An unidentified woman is suing the Church of Scientology, along with its chairman David Miscavige and the organization’s intellectual property owner, the Religious Technology Center, for harassment after she claims the church targeted her for appearing on the A&E investigative series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.
The woman’s lawyers filed the lawsuit with the Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday. In the documents, she is referred to as Jane Doe.
Court records indicate that Jane Doe was born into Scientology in 1979 and remained within the church for almost 40 years. During her time there, she said she was made to do back-breaking, laborious work, often for very long hours, from the time she was 15 years old.
The suit also said she fell out of favour with Miscavige and, as a result, was placed in “the hole,” or solitary confinement. After enduring this for some time, she claims she tried to leave the organization in 2016 by hiding in a non-Scientologist’s car trunk and leaving the church’s San Jacinto, Calif., compound.
Once her father discovered her attempt, Jane Doe says he convinced her to return to the church to undergo the “official” withdrawal process, which would only take a few weeks — or so she was told.
READ THE COURT DOCUMENTS BELOW
According to court documents, she said that when she returned, she was treated like a prisoner for three months and was forced to make false, taped confessions and testimonials. She said she was also relentlessly interrogated by Scientology officials, the documents state. In 2017, she officially left the church and started working with actor Leah Remini, a former Scientologist, eventually appearing on an episode of the docuseries.
Court documents state that as soon as she told her version of events on the show, Jane Doe said the church started to spread rumours about her online, calling her an alcoholic and stating that she was sexually promiscuous — the church claimed this latter reason was why she was dismissed from her role.
Others who have spoken out against the church in the past have accused the organization of crafting websites containing harmful, false information. Jane Doe says in her complaint that Scientology created such a site for her.
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According to the complaint, the Church of Scientology “copyrighted and published a hate website against Jane Doe, Ms. Remini and almost anyone else who was featured on the show… the Defendants used this page to disseminate false, defamatory and inflammatory information about Jane Doe.”
“These publications were disseminated by Defendants with the intent to harass, intimidate, embarrass, humiliate, destroy and alarm Jane Doe in all aspects of her personal and professional life,” wrote one of her lawyers, Robert Thompson, in the complaint. “In addition to the online smear campaign, Defendants have stalked, surveilled, and followed Jane Doe.”
The complaint continued: “Beginning in 2017 through June of 2018, defendants and their agents have followed Jane Doe while she was driving. On more than one occasion, Jane Doe has been forced to change her route in an effort to curtail defendant’s surveillance efforts.”
Further accusations in the lawsuit include vicious and sometimes explicit verbal assault against children, excessive work hours far beyond normal shifts and barred access from the internet.
Jane Doe is seeking unspecified damages for the physical and emotional abuse she claims she suffered and for being held captive.
Global News has reached out to the Church of Scientology for comment. The organization gave the Hollywood Reporter a statement about the lawsuit.
“The Church of Scientology International has not received the complaint, but from what we have seen in the press, this is another shameful publicity stunt by Leah Remini and one of her employees,” the statement read.Follow @CJancelewicz
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