David Miscavige, the de facto leader of the Church of Scientology and noted BFF of Tom Cruise has gone M.I.A., it appears. According to TMZ, Miscavige is said to be missing (allegedly!) by attorneys who’ve spent the last four months attempting to reach him.
You might wonder why lawyers would need to reach him so badly. Could it be to discuss the lawsuit against the church by three women who’ve accused Danny Masterson of rape, and say the “Church” stalked and harassed them after they went public with their claims against the actor, who’s a high-ranking member? Nope! Perhaps the suspicions about the whereabouts of his wife, Shelly—a woman who hasn’t been seen in public (The Los Angeles Police Department have maintained they made contact with Shelly in 2014) since 2007—are worth new discussion? No; the attorneys want to serve Miscavige with papers for a child trafficking suit.
According to TMZ, Miscavige has evaded process servers not one, not two, but 27 times (!) at Scientology headquarters in both Los Angeles and Clearwater, Florida, over the course of four months.
The three plaintiffs are Gawain Baxter, Laura Baxter, and Valeska Paris, former members of Scientology’s Sea Org, whom claim they were forced into the institution as children and worked for nominal pay (“round-the-clock labor” allegedly garnered just $50 a week for Gawain, $25 for Laura) well into adulthood.
The Baxters (a married couple) and Paris all claim they were indoctrinated into the church at young ages and made to work for Sea Org, a paramilitary organization and “fraternal religious order, comprising the religion’s most dedicated members.” Of their years spent in Sea Org, the plaintiffs described 12 or more hours of daily hard labor, including renovating buildings, landscaping, and cleaning church facilities. They were also repeatedly exposed to asbestos and concrete dust, which has led to longtime health issues.
In the suit, Gawain Baxter said he was often “sleep-deprived, given inadequate time to eat, and verbally abused by his adult supervisors.” Laura detailed similar treatment, including being “screamed at abusively” by superiors and “confined” to a small, hot engine room for three days as a punishment.
Meanwhile, Paris shared even darker allegations of abuse within the institution. Per the Daily Beast:
Paris also alleges physical and sexual abuse of children was common, and that she “walked in on an adult Sea Org member, who was responsible for the children, masturbating on a boy’s bed.” She also claims that when she was 11, a 27-year-old male Sea Org member ordered her to lie on top of him in her bed because he was hiding from Sea Org staff. (She claims she was punished for reporting both of these encounters to an adult.)
In the amended complaint, Paris says that when she was 12, her Sea Org superior “ordered her” into a room with him to confess the “crimes” she had committed—these being “alleged sexual thoughts she had.” When she branded him a “pervert,” she was punished with “lower conditions” for a period of six months.
“Miscavige cannot be permitted to continue his gamesmanship,” Neil Glazer, an attorney for one of the plaintiffs, said in legal documents filed last month. According to several reports, security guards stationed at both locations have refused to accept the suit on numerous occasions and have said they don’t know anything about Miscavige’s whereabouts.
As Masterson’s accusers have also alleged, the Baxters and Paris say they’ve been surveilled by Scientology officials since distancing themselves from the institution and then later speaking out against it.
Meanwhile, a Scientology spokesperson told TMZ, “The lawsuit is nothing but a money shakedown. The allegations are scurrilous, ridiculous and blatantly false. The lawsuit is both a sham and a scam.”
Well, wherever Miscavige is, I hope his wife is safe and sound there, too.
CORRECTION: The lawsuit mentioned in this story alleges only “child trafficking,” not “child sex trafficking” as was included in a previous version.