Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Former high-ranking official in Scientology sued for saying she saw abuse

Scientology says "apostates are not reliable with respect to their former faith." I disagree. The people who are no longer under the control of the religious hierarchy are the only ones who are truly free to tell the truth.

A former high-ranking official in Scientology says she saw abuse
ABC News
Feb. 29, 2012

The Church of Scientology, known for celebrity and controversy, is now
in the middle of another public relations crisis as a former
high-ranking official has created a firestorm, first with an email to
church members and then testimony in a Texas state court alleging she
saw the church's leader punch another executive in the face, and that at
his direction she herself was slapped.

For 17 years Debbie Cook ran the church's spiritual mecca, the so-called Flag Base in Clearwater, Florida, where she ultimately rose to the title of captain. But Cook testified this month that beginning in 2005 she saw behavior exhibited by church leader David Miscavige that disturbed her deeply.

"I witnessed Mr. Miscavige physically punching in the face and wrestling to the ground another very senior executive at Scientology International level," Cook testified in court.

A few weeks later in an interview with ABC News, Cook repeated that assertion. She also said -- as she had testified -- that Miscavige never hit her, but that he ordered his assistant to slap her, and that slap was so hard that Cook was knocked down.

In numerous letters to ABC News, Scientology officials have denied that David Miscavige ordered Debbie Cook to be slapped, or that he punched a fellow executive. In addition, the church sent ABC News a letter signed by that executive in which he wrote, "This alleged incident did not occur and I would remember it if it had."

Mary Marsh/ABC News
A former high-ranking official for the Church... View Full Size

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Cook also testified that in 2007, while doing work at the Scientology International Base in Southern California, she was taken to a pair of double-wide trailers she called "the hole." She testified that she was held in the "hole" for seven weeks, that there were bars on the windows and security guards posted at the door, and that the food was "was like leftovers, slop, bits of meat, soupy kind of leftovers thrown into a pot and cooked and barely edible."

She also testified that the trailer was infested with ants, that they slept in sleeping bags on the floor, and that on several occasions, the electricity was cut and the temperature reached 106 in the trailers.

During this time, Cook testified, she and other executives were repeatedly pressured to confess their alleged misdeeds. As she had said in court, Cook told ABC News that she was made to stand in a trash can and water was poured over her as people screamed at her to admit "bad things."

In a letter to ABC News, a lawyer for the Church of Scientology flat out denies that the "hole" exists, or that there was ever a place known as "the hole."

The letter states that Ms. Cook and certain other Scientology executives and staff members "did participate in religious discipline, a program of ethics and correction entered into voluntarily as part of their religious observances," but insists, "the idea that the church held her or anyone else against their will [is] denied."

The letter goes on to call Cook's account of her disciplinary experience "inaccurate, misleading, and intended to create sensationalized media attention."

When Cook and her husband decided to leave the Church of Scientology in October 2007, they signed lengthy contracts agreeing not to publicly criticize Scientology or its leaders, and in return received checks for $50,000 apiece.

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