But another former Scientologist has spoken out against the organization, this time at an event called The Cult In Your Backyard.
Martin Padfield – who was a devotee for 31 years– spoke at the conference on Saturday in East Grinstead, England, the same town as Scientology’s UK headquarters.
The 50-year-old says he became a member of the “dangerous, corrupt and sinister cult” at 19 after being introduced to it by a builder working on his parents’ home.
He soon became so devoted that he joined Sea Org – the elite unit for loyal believers. But Padfield says relocating to the International Base in Gilman Hot Springs, California was “a culture shock.”
He describes grueling work and a nine-month stint wearing a black boiler suit, working for hours in the hot sun as punishment for dozing off during a night shift.
Padfield told The London Evening Standard: “I didn’t know where I was. I had no contacts in the U.S. outside of Scientology. I had no passports, no money and no possessions. Where I was going to go?”
But Padfield stuck with Scientology for three decades despite being expelled from Sea Org at 23 for breaking the rules and sleeping with another member.
He eventually became disenchanted and left the church in 2009. Disowned by his Scientology friends, he claims he still has massive debts after spending nearly $160,000 on courses, donations and church materials.
A spokesperson for Scientology called Padfield “a member of a small group of apostates who are anti-Scientologists that seek to spread false information.”
The conference he addressed is another in a series of recent PR blows for Scientology, and comes just weeks after the release of The Master.
Loosely based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, the film is already generating Oscar buzz for stars Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.