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An unnamed woman is suing the Church of Scientology, claiming she was the victim of targeted harassment because of her work on the A&E series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.
The woman was born into Scientology in 1979 and spent nearly four decades within the organization, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. She claims she was forced to do back-breaking work for long hours from the time she was 15 years old until she escaped in 2016 by hiding in the trunk of a non-Scientologist actor’s car while filming a promotional video. Her father convinced her to return and go through the official exit process, which she was told would take no more than a few weeks. Doe claims she was treated like a prisoner for three months and forced to make false confessions and give false positive testimonials during videotaped interrogations. Shortly after her final exit in 2017, she began working for Remini.
That is when, she claims, the church began spreading false claims about her online that included saying she was dismissed from her role for “rampant sexual promiscuity” and is an alcoholic.
“These publications were disseminated by Defendants with the intent to harass, intimidate, embarrass, humiliate, destroy and alarm Jane Doe in all aspects of her personal and professional life,” writes attorney Robert Thompson in the complaint. “In addition to the online smear campaign, Defendants have stalked, surveilled, and followed Jane Doe.”
The woman also claims she was put into solitary confinement after working as a steward for chairman David Miscavige because she was close with his wife, Shelly Miscavige. Doe claims David became “increasingly hostile” toward his wife in the summer of 2005. Some time after, Doe says she was forbidden from contacting Shelly and spent three months in “the Hole.” Several months later, while performing manual labor, she says she witnessed a “dark-colored tinted vehicle” pull up and “unidentified men dragged Shelly Miscavige, who was crying and visibly distraught, out of the building and put her in the car.” Shelly has not been seen publicly since 2007, prompting widespread speculation about her whereabouts. Remini centered an episode of her series on Shelly’s seeming disappearance, and in 2013 filed a missing person report with the Los Angeles Police Department — the investigation into which was quickly closed with no finding of foul play.
Doe’s lawsuit also claims children were subjected to verbal assault, sometimes explicit, in an effort to train them not to react to harassment, and that members of the sub-organization called Sea Org sign a “billion year contract” with Scientology and work an average of 100 hours a week for a weekly allowance of $15 (for children) or $46 (for adults). She says some members are banned from using the internet and all are banned from exploring outside opinions about Scientology. Anyone who defects is labeled a “Suppressive Person” and is subject to a “Fair Game Policy,” Doe claims, through which ex-Scientologists are harassed in an effort to silence them.
Doe is suing the Church of Scientology, Miscavige and Religious Technology Center, which owns the group’s intellectual property. Her claims include false imprisonment, kidnapping, stalking, slander, intentional infliction of emotional distress, human trafficking and several labor code violations.
The Church of Scientology responded to The Hollywood Reporter’s request for comment on the lawsuit, issuing the following statement: “The Church of Scientology International has not received the complaint, but from what we have seen in the press, this is another shameful publicity stunt by Leah Remini and one of her employees.”
June 21, 2:35 p.m. This story has been updated to include statement from the Church of Scientology and to reflect that the investigation into Leah Remini’s missing person report filed with the LAPD was quickly closed.
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