A team of eight victims’ rights attorneys on Tuesday filed the first of what they promise will be a series of lawsuits against the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige, on behalf of defectors who say they suffered a range of exploitation from child abuse, human trafficking and forced labor to revenge tactics related to the church’s Fair Game policy.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of an unnamed Jane Doe born in 1979, outlines her lifetime of alleged suffering in Scientology where she was subjected as a child at the Clearwater headquarters to abuse inherent to auditing, Scientology’s spiritual counseling that can more resemble interrogation. It states she joined the church’s clergy-like Sea Org in California at 15, where people worked 100 hours a week for $46. She was at times held against her will. When she officially left Scientology in 2017, Doe was followed by private investigators and terrorized by the church as it published “a hate website” falsely stating she was an alcoholic dismissed from the sect for promiscuity, according to the complaint.
“This isn’t going to be the last of the lawsuits being filed,” Philadelphia-based attorney Brian Kent told the Tampa Bay Times, declining to say how many more are forthcoming. “We’ve seen what can happen when there is truth exposed in terms of child abuse within organizations. You’ve seen it with the Catholic Church, you’re seeing it with the Southern Baptist Convention now. We’re hoping for meaningful change.”
The legal team is made up of lawyers from Laffey, Bucci & Kent LLP and Soloff & Zervanos PC of Philadelphia; Thompson Law Offices in California; and Child USA, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit dedicated to preventing child abuse. Scientology spokespeople Ben Shaw and Karin Pouw did not respond to an email or phone calls for comment.
Kent said Doe’s name was withheld “to protect her from additional public harassment” by the church.