7:36pm PT by Jean Bentley
'Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath' Details Child Abuse Allegations in Season 2 Premiere
In the second season premiere of A&E's Emmy-nominated reality series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, two women raised inside the Church of Scientology's Sea Org shared their stories of abandonment and sexual abuse as Remini and partner Mike Rinder exposed the Church's treatment of children.
The women, childhood best friends Saina Kamula and Mirriam Francis, were both born into the Church (Francis in 1984, Kamula in 1985, with Francis leaving in 2010 and Kamula leaving in 2013).
Francis told Remini and Rinder that she was sexually abused by her father in her native Australia while her mother was working for the Church of Scientology, and the abuse continued after the family moved to Los Angeles and her father joined the Sea Org.
Kamula, who moved to Los Angeles from Finland when her mother joined the Sea Org in the early '90s, said an older member of the Church sexually abused her as she struggled to socialize with her classmates at the Apollo Training Academy, an accredited school attended by the children of Sea Org members. After reporting the incidents to a teacher, she was punished for being "counter-intention," for acting against the interests of Scientology's message.
(Read the Church of Scientology's statement in response to Kamula and Francis' allegations here.)
Remini and Rinder both discussed how Scientology views child-rearing — in an impersonal manner that relies on the idea that children are just old souls in young bodies.
While L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics contains a passage that reads, "The seven-year-old who shudders because a man kisses her is not computing ... at seven she should see nothing wrong in a kiss, not even a passionate one," in a statement aired on the show, the Church claimed it "abide[s] by any and all legal requirements to make reports to law enforcement authorities in instances where non-privileged information comes to our attention of child abuse, including illegal sexual activity between an adult and a minor."
In 1994, Kamula and Francis were moved to a Southern California Sea Org facility for children called Canyon Oaks Ranch (or PAC Ranch), which was subsequently closed in 2007. Kamula described the facility as "military-esque" and "like Lord of the Flies," and detailed treatment that included being forced to eat lunch behind dumpsters infested with maggots, and missions to demolish possibly asbestos-infested walls or to lay the brick that paves L. Ron Hubbard Way in Los Angeles. As preteens, they signed billion-year contracts to become full-fledged Sea Org members. Kamula detailed the 60-hour work weeks she was forced to endure as an underage teen, and revealed that she was placed on suicide watch several times.
While Kamula's abuser remains an "active and respected member of the Church," Francis said her father eventually confessed his sexual abuse to her. After the confession, Francis said she was audited and revealed her father's abuse — but the auditors wouldn't accept what she said about her father's actions and she was deemed a potential troublemaker.
Explained Remini, "You cannot attack any Scientologist or Sea Org member," which is why the Church brushed off the accusations.
In 2009, when Francis was assigned to the same Sea Org base as her father, she told the Church she wanted to leave — but wasn't allowed until she signed a waiver that she forgave her father and wouldn't sue him or the Church for his sexual abuse. She later filed a police report in Australia outlining the abuse, but no charges were ever brought forth against her father. The Church alleges that Francis' father was dismissed from the Sea Org in 2002 after they learned of the abuse.
After telling Remini and Rinder their stories, Kamula and Francis reported their abuse to the LAPD and are now officially considered enemies of the Church.
The Church of Scientology challenges the credibility and statements of the contributors appearing in the series, and A&E provides information from the Church regarding claims made in each episode online.
Aug. 16, 8:40 a.m.: Updated with link to Church of Scientology's latest statement.