While celebrity Scientologists including Laura Prepon and Jenna Elfman celebrated the holidays at a glamorous Hollywood party, others spent the season behind the walls of the Church's mysterious 500-acre desert compound near Hemet, California. Previously described by former members as "labor camp" and worse, the site has been shrouded in mystery -- until now. A current Scientology official finally admitted the true conditions at the "campus" in court in November -- and the description is frightening.
Church official Warren McShane, who lives on the base, offered attorneys a new perspective on the controversial site during his deposition as part of Monique Rathbun's ongoing harassment lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige.
Miscavige's offices there, McShane described in the deposition transcript, are located in a 45,000 sq. foot building with just two floors, although he is rarely present for long stretches of time. The same cannot be said for McShane, who admitted to working a brutal schedule of 9 in the morning until midnight every day.
When Miscavige isn't present, McShane said his interactions with the church leader are limited since he doesn't use a cellphone.
"It's very rare to speak to him," McShane told attorneys. "He doesn't use the phone … because phone calls, per our scripture, are not a standard form of communication. Like church founder L. Ron Hubbard says, phones are psychotic. They have no memory, so we don't use them very often."
And it's not just phone calls that are restricted coming in and out of the base, McShane said. In one chilling moment of the deposition, according to the transcript, he described in-detail the various security measures that prevent anyone from entering -- or leaving -- the base without permission.
"The base is surrounded by fencing, isn't it?" Rathbun's attorney, Ray Jeffrey, asked McShane, who answered, "Sure."
"And it has razor wire, some type of security wire on the top of it?" Jeffrey asked.
McShane answered, "It's got 'ultra barrier,' is what we call it … a metal that's got … metal spikes or whatever sticking up."
He continued, "Yeah, you wouldn't want to get caught up in it."
In addition, McShane revealed, there is video surveillance of the fence and motion detectors, "what we call shakers," he said, that sound an alarm when movement is detected.
On top of all that, he confirmed, "There's usually one person on a motorcycle" who patrols the perimeter.
Previous depositions in the Rathbun case described Scientology's "forced labor camp" and imprisonment at the notorious "Hole," another site where former Scientologists have claimed they were subjected to "physical and psychological abuse."
At the time those claims were made, the Church of Scientology told 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.”
These new allegations from McShane, however, represent the statements of a current member in good standing.