On Tuesday night’s second season premiere of A&E’s Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, two women born into Scientology gave their accounts of sexual abuse at the hands of members of the church, and alleged that other church members ignored them when they shared what had happened.
Saina Kamula, who appears first in the video above, said that she was bullied when she began attending the Scientology-run Apollo Training Academy (which she described as “basically a school,” with a laugh). When she was 8, she says a teacher took her under his wing, only to begin touching her inappropriately and kissing her on the neck. When she told her mother she didn’t want to go to that school, Kamula recalls, “She didn’t ask me why. She just said, ‘You’re being counter-intention to my dreams, to my purpose.’”
Kamula then alleges that she attempted to tell another teacher, who accused her of “nattering”—Scientology speak for “negative chatter.”
Meanwhile, Mirriam Francis said was molested by her Scientologist father between the ages of 3-5 and again starting when she was 7. During an audit, when she revealed her father as a “suppressive person” (a church enemy, as it were), she says her auditor chuckled and said, “That can’t be right. He’s a Sea Org member, pick somebody else.”
Both Kamula and Francis moved to Canyon Oaks Ranch or PAC Ranch, which are other Scientology schools, in 1994. They described the place as militaristic and Lord of the Flies-esque. The teacher that touched Kamula inappropriately also worked there.
The show featured a passage from L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology text Dianetics 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.”
Francis says that she was moved to the same Sea Org base as her father in 2009, but wasn’t allowed to leave until she signed away her rights to sue her father and/or the church for the abuse she withstood. Meanwhile, a title card on the show read: “According to the Church of Scientology, after they learned about Mirriam’s abuse in 2002, her father was dismissed from the Sea Organization.” Per another title card: “Saina’s molester is still an active and respected member of the Church of Scientology.” Both women reported the crimes to the LAPD after their discussion with Remini and fellow former Scientologist Mike Rinder.
Kamula left the church in 2013, while Francis left in 2010.
These are far from the first allegations of institutionalized condoning of sexual abuse that have been lobbed at the Church of Scientology. For example, in 2005, a woman named Jennifer Stewart reported she had been raped over 100 times between the ages of 16 and 17 by then-27-year-old chief supervisor Gabriel Williams. Stewart’s father reported that he was told by church officials not to report this to the police. Williams was eventually convicted of sexual battery and sodomy. There are many more stories like this.
For its part, the Church of Scientology is denying the episode’s claims. A recent statement published by USA Today begins, “Nothing about A&E’s Leah Remini ‘docuseries’ is honest. The singular goal of the program is to make money and boost ratings by spreading salacious lies to promote A&E’s ugly brand of religious intolerance, bigotry and hatred.” Regarding the sexual assault allegations:
In regards to your allegations on condoning sexual abuse, this is false and defamatory, per se.