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Leah Remini is taking on the Church of Scientology with each episode of her docuseries, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, currently airing on A&E, and Tuesday night, she turned the spotlight on the FBI.
In the episode, the fifth of eight in the series, Remini, who broke from the Church in 2013, and her co-host, former Scientologist Mike Rinder, traveled to Denver to meet two former executives of the Church, Marc and Claire Headley. The couple were high-ranking Sea Organization members before escaping the Church and becoming “suppressive persons” in 2005.
During the sitdown with the married couple, Claire Headley recounts to Remini how she was allegedly coerced into having an abortion during her younger years in the Church. Members of the Sea Organization, like the Headleys and Remini when she was a member, sign a billion-year contract to join the organization, which does not allow children.
“If you were in the Sea Organization and you got pregnant you were expected to have an abortion,” said Rinder, adding that the Church claims pressuring women to have an abortion either has never happened or doesn’t happen anymore. “The truth of the matter is, it is a mortal sin to get pregnant as a Sea Org member because that means you will have to leave the Sea Organization and therefore ‘break’ your billion-year contract.”
A tearful Claire Headley, who now has three children with her husband, said, “Some wounds you can’t heal” Adding, “It doesn’t make it any easier to deal with it. Ever.”
It was experiencing and witnessing such abuse that ultimately led the couple to decide to leave the Church, or “defect,” after being members for 30 years. The final straw came when Church leader David Miscavige “went off” on Marc Headley over a snide comment. “He started punching me and slugging me and pushed me against a desk unit,” he claims. “At that point I sort of realized, ‘Ok, the Pope of Scientology just beat the shit out of me.’ For me, that was it.”
The pair detailed each of their dangerous but successful escapes, which happened in 2005. They are now “suppressive persons,” which means none of their family members in the Church can communicate with them again.
When Remini asks if they relayed these alleged abuses to the authorities and the FBI, the Headleys say they have “in depth.”
They filed lawsuits individually and together and though Marc Headley says the Church admitted to what happened, it was ruled as part of the Church’s religious right and the Headleys‘ religious practice.
“Religions in the United States under the First Amendment basically have free rein to do whatever they want to do and your option is: Leave the religion, go somewhere else,” explains Rinder. “The First Amendment says, effectively, the government or any branch of government, including courts, may not entangle themselves in making decisions about the ecclesiastical or the religious practices of any religion.”
A title card reveals the Headleys lost their lawsuit against the Church, but feel that speaking out and “exposing the practice of coerced abortions has made it harder for this abuse to continue.”
During the episode, the actress took to Twitter to say, “Now we answer the question why the FBI hasn’t done anything #ScientologyTheAftermath.”
Now we answer the question why the FBI hasn’t done anything #ScientologyTheAftermath
— Leah Remini (@LeahRemini) December 28, 2016
Remini admits that she doesn’t know exactly what legal steps can be taken to help, but vows that she will find ways to bring justice to these victims and prevent these instances from happening again.
The A&E series, which premiered Nov. 29, follows the actress’ memoir, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, and years of interviews and public statements she has made in hopes of exposing the truth about the Church. In both her memoir and in the series, Remini speaks to other former Scientologists who allege similar experiences of abuse and harassment during and after leaving the Church.
The Church released a lengthy response to the premiere of Remini’s show, which can be read in full here. Ahead of each segment, Scientology and the Aftermath airs a title card declaring the Church “challenges the credibility” of the series.
During the episode, Remini and Rinder realized twice that they were being followed by two separate private investigators.
“It doesn’t intimidate me, it makes me want to retaliate because I’m not going to f—ing stand for it,” she says, revealing the underlying motive behind her series.
“This cult or another cult, I don’t want people to feel powerless because something seems more powerful than you,” she later says, encouraging everyone watching to “do something. You can do something.”
— A&E Network (@AETV) December 27, 2016
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath airs Tuesdays on A&E.
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