While A-list Scientologists like Tom Cruise, John Travolta & Kirstie Alley spend their days in multi-million-dollar mansions and on red carpets, others further down the ranks of the controversial church live a very different life. Now, more than a dozen former Scientologists are speaking out like never before about the “forced labor camp” and “prison” they claim they suffered through while members of the church.
The former Scientologists made the new allegations in declarations filed as part of Monique Rathbun‘s lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige, both of which she alleges executed a campaign of harassment against her. The declarations are meant to be evidence to support her claims that Miscavige oversees all church operations but what they allege is far more shocking.
One former Scientologist, John Brousseau, says he was sent to “forced labor camp” twice because of his perceived disobedience of Miscavige, and was also involved with the “incarceration” of other Scientologists in the notorious complex, “The Hole.”
“As part of the incarceration process of the various executives, managers, and other Sea Org personnel to ‘the hole’ …” he says, “Miscavige ordered me … to install steel bars across all possible exit doors of the office trailer complex where the personnel were confined.” In addition, he says, the complex was guarded by a 24-hour security guard.
The “bizarre prison” was established in the California desert in 2005 by Miscavige, Claire Headley claims in her own declaration. “The compound was guarded with elaborate security mechanisms,” she claims, “specifically: high barbed-wire-topped fences, night vision high powered cameras, motion detecters, fence rattlers, high powered lights, a 24/7 manned security force with rovers” and more.
“The prison, which was termed ‘The Hole’ by Miscavige, consisted of two-double-wide trailers,” Headley claims. “Dozens of top Sea Org members were incarcerated in The Hole. … Only Miscavige could originate an order to put someone in the hole. [And] only Miscavige could originate an order to release someone from The Hole.”
So what happened inside? Headley, who claims to have been incarcerated in The Hole for 3 weeks, claims, “I experienced terrible conditions … where I was subjected to physical and psychological abuse. If I was allowed to sleep, I was required to do so under my desk on an office floor with a sleeping bag. I was not allowed to go home to my room where my clothing and belongings were kept. I had to ask someone to get clean underwear and bring that to me. I was required to shower in cold water with 25 other women at a time in a facility meant to provide shower capabilities for 3 people at a time. I was not allowed to attend meals, as a result of which I suffered extreme weight loss and extreme adrenal gland exhaustion.”
In one particularly brutal incident of punishment, she alleges, “The Hole inmates were assigned to clean out two aeration ponds that had been built on the compound grounds. These aeration ponds contained human feces which had been dehydrated after months in the hot desert sun. The staff were required to empty these ponds by hand, using buckets to empty the dried feces powder that now filled them … day and night … for 3 days. At least two staff (Kristina Jensen and Abigail Miller) ended up in the Hemet hospital with extreme respiration problems due to breathing human feces with absolutely no protection of any kind.”
The reason Headley was allegedly subjected to such punishment, she claims, is because she refused to divorce her husband of twelve years, Marc Headley, when Miscavige ordered her to do so.
Another Scientologist who claims to have spent time in the hole, Mark Rinder, said in his declaration that it was “literally a prison.”
But these court documents allege that physical and mental abuse occurred outside of The Hole as well.
For example, ex-Scientologist Chris Guider claims that in 2003 Miscavige “had … over 100 people brought from their sleeping beds to jump into a cold pool in the middle of the night as punishment for what he perceived to be poor performance. In late 2004, he had again the entire CMOI (CSI’s top management division) made to walk 1/4 of a mile to the International Base’s sewage treatment plan and had them clean it without protection of any kind. Another time in 2003 … 20 staff were sent away, never to return, each one split from their marriage for good. Or, in the case of one couple who refused to be split, excommunicated and sent to Alaska.”
Ex-Scientologist Stephen Hall alleges that he was denied food, thrown into a scum-covered pond, and publicly humiliated by Miscavige. As a result, he says, “My hair turned gray and I was barely able to function.”
And in his declaration, Marc Headley recalls being “made to run in the dark with motorcycles following close behind … made to sleep in tents in the dirt without mattresses or proper bedding, eat leftover food and perform menial labor tasks for months on end,” all because his video production team had “not completed some shots that Captain Miscavige had ordered done in an exact way.”
Yet another former Scientologist, Amy Scobee, alleges that she witnessed her direct supervisor, Mark Yager, be assigned by Miscavige to live in “an area known as the swamp because it was a swampy waste water catchment area.”
“Mr. Yager was required to build a bamboo cage to live in initially,” she claims, “and then lived in isolation in a trailer for nearly two years under 24-hour security watch.”
These bombshell court documents also accuse church leader Miscavige of physical abuse, and of forcing Scientologists to work in the service of Cruise, as Radar has reported.
A rep for the Church of Scientology tells Radar, “These discredited allegations are nothing more than the same tired propaganda spread for nearly five years by the same tiny clique of anti-Scientologists. These people remain obsessively bitter at having been expelled from their positions in the Church nearly a decade ago for malfeasance and incompetence. Shopped to virtually every media outlet since 2009, these ever-morphing myths—including one lifted from a best-selling autobiography entirely unrelated to the Church—are being spread yet again by the clique’s propagandists who have shown they will lie to whatever extent it takes to get media attention for this frivolous, get-rich scheme now being hatched in a Texas courtroom. Orchestrated by a handful of bitter ex-Scientologists and unemployed bloggers with axes to grind, these made-up tales have been discredited by countless Church officials in sworn statements made under penalty of perjury.”