Header Ads Widget

Scientology has been accused of child trafficking and forced labor of Australian

Scientology has been accused of child trafficking and forced labor of Australian

Smh: In a significant legal claim filed in a Florida court overnight, three Australian residents accused Scientology of child trafficking, covering up multiple sexual assaults, forced labor, and other abuses.

The plaintiffs, Australian Gawain Baxter and residents Laura Baxter and Valeska Paris, are suing Scientology leader David Miscavige and five Church-related organizations for alleged human trafficking and seeking significant "compensatory and punitive damages."

The three were members of Scientology's "Sea Org" and "Cadet Org" entities, which required them to sign billion-year contracts to provide Scientology with free or low-cost labor. According to the lawsuit, their pay was sometimes withheld or limited to $US50 per week.

They claim they were subjected to years of emotional, physical, and psychological abuse, particularly while aboard Scientology's Freewinds cruise ship in the Caribbean, where they spent more than a decade in "a world filled with abuse, violence, intimidation, and fear," according to the lawsuit.

One of the plaintiffs claimed they were imprisoned for days in a hot engine room after being accused of "monopolizing" the attention of a prominent celebrity who celebrated their birthday on the ship in 2004 and is thought to be actor Tom Cruise. There's no evidence that Cruise was aware of the plaintiff's predicament.

Valeska Paris is accusing Scientology of child trafficking and abuse.
Valeska Paris is accusing Scientology of child trafficking and abuse. Image Credit

According to the lawsuit, free labor on the cruise ship allowed Scientology leader David Miscavige to "maintain a facade of legitimacy, a luxurious lifestyle... and influence over members including celebrities."

Scientology was founded in the 1950s by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer from the United States, and has long attracted celebrities such as Elisabeth Moss, John Travolta, and Tom Cruise. Former followers have described it as a dangerous money-driven cult. The Church of Scientology has been contacted for comment.

The 86-page legal claim, filed by US law firms Kohn, Swift & Graf, Preti Flaherty, and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, details allegations that children as young as six years old were separated from their parents after relinquishing custody to the "Cadet Org" and later the "Sea Org," with family visits limited to once a week.

Members of "Orgs" work as indentured labor both on the sea and on land, according to the lawsuit, while public members of Scientology can live in their homes. They amass significant debts during their time in the Orgs, which are then held against them if they ever leave.

The cruise ship Freewinds docked in Castries, the capital of St Lucia.
The cruise ship Freewinds docked in Castries, the capital of St Lucia. Image Credit: AP

Gawain Baxter was raised as a Scientologist, and his family moved from Australia to Scientology's Flag Base in Clearwater, Florida, when he was only a few weeks old. At the age of six, he joined the Cadet Org while living in a dormitory with 100 other children.

He alleges that by the age of ten, he had only seen his parents for three hours a week and had received very little education while working five to ten hours unpaid a day doing things like food preparation, landscaping, and garbage removal.

He claims he was regularly verbally and physically abused by Scientology adults and was asked explicit questions about his sexual experiences by adult Sea Org leaders when he was a teenager.

He claims he had his passport confiscated and worked 16 to 24 hours a day in unsafe working conditions while living on the Freewinds, which never docks in US ports or territorial waters. Without safety equipment, this included repainting pipes, cleaning ship decks, and cleaning fuel tanks. He claims he coughed up blood after working with blue asbestos and concrete dust.

"To this day, Scientology leadership is mistreating completely defenseless minors." "They are isolated from family, just like I was, and have no way of protecting themselves," Baxter said in a statement. "Without a shred of remorse, science must be held accountable for the human rights violations and trauma it has inflicted."

Baxter and his wife, Laura Baxter, were eventually able to leave Freewinds after devising a plan to get pregnant in order to flee. They were told to terminate the pregnancy but refused, according to the lawsuit, and were eventually let off the boat after weeks of punishment and isolation.

After being accused of "monopolizing" the attention of a celebrity during their birthday celebrations in 2004, Laura Baxter claims she was punished and confined to a hot engine room on the ship for three days, only being allowed to leave for short periods of time. In 2004, Tom Cruise celebrated his 42nd birthday on Freewinds with a party.

Scientology leader David Miscavige
Scientology leader David Miscavige. Image Credit

Valeska Paris, who now lives in Australia, was raised as a Scientologist by her parents, who were members of the Sea Org. She was in the Cadet Org by the age of six and claims she was sexually assaulted as a minor on multiple occasions over the course of a decade.

She claimed that physical and sexual abuse was common in the Cadet Org and that she had seen an adult member of the Sea Org masturbating on a boy's bed. She claimed she was chastised for reporting the inappropriate behavior.

A senior Sea Org member supposedly rubbed his erect penis against Paris' genitals, according to Paris. She claimed she was forced to relive her sexual assaults with adult male interrogators, that she was punished for reporting them, and that she was forced to do her alleged abuser's laundry on one occasion.

As a 15-year-old, Paris worked as Miscavige's personal assistant, working 16-hour days and being "sleep-deprived, poorly fed, and constantly verbally abused by adult supervisors."

She claimed she became suicidal and was forced to work at a Scientology facility in Australia, where her passport was seized. At a site in western Sydney, Scientology has been accused of running a "penal colony."

"Scientology is a fear-based system, and I'm still dealing with the effects of the trauma." "No child or adult should have to endure the daily abuse and manipulation that I did," Paris said.

During repeated interrogations, Org members are forced to self-report deviant thoughts and behavior, which is later used against them, according to the lawsuit.

"Scientology cannot be allowed to continue exploiting its members' labor and inflicting emotional and physical abuse without facing justice," said Ted Leopold of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, a plaintiffs' lawyer.

The Age and Sydney Morning Herald uncovered some of the most detailed financial information on Scientology available anywhere in the world in a 2021 investigation. It revealed it had moved tens of millions of dollars to Australia, which has become a global haven for tax-free profits with little oversight.

Source: Author- Ben Schneiders.

Post a Comment