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Valeska Paris was born into the church of Scientology. She says she was abused as a child on the Sea Org ships, forced into labor and even sexually assaulted
Three Scientology defectors are suing the church’s leader David Miscavige claiming they were trafficked as children and forced into ‘dangerous’ labor aboard the controversial Sea Org ships.
Gawain Baxter, his wife Laura and Valeska Paris all sued the church in Tampa this week, claiming they were forced into the work on the ships from as young as the age of six.
They said they had to sign contracts promising ‘one billion years’ of service to the church and worked for ‘low and even no pay’.
Gawain Baxter said his parents put him in a Sea Org nursery when he was two months old.
At the age of six, he was forced to sign the one billion year contract, and went to live in a Cadet Org dormitory with around 100 other children.
‘Children over six years old are considered to be and are frequently told that they are adults and that they should act and expect to be treated as adults.
‘They are now even called children; rather they must be referred to as “Cadets”‘ the lawsuit says.
They claimed that the church organizers and Sea Org supervisors only allowed them to see their parents once a week, but that visits could be canceled at a moment’s notice if they deemed the child to be in trouble.
‘From the ages of six to fourteen, Gawain was not permitted to attend any accredited public or private school. Instead, schoolwork consisted of two to three hours per day of basic reading, writing, and math in a classroom of thirty other children, under the supervision of Linda Hilton, Cadet Coordinator’s spouse.
‘Beginning when Gawain was ten years old, he was required to spend one to two hours daily in Scientology indoctrination courses as well.
‘The cost of each course was recorded as a debt that Gawain was told he would owe if he ever left Cadet Org or Sea Org,’ the lawsuit alleges.
The Sea Org ‘Freewinds’ ship is where Scientology children are sent as ‘cadets.’ They are forced to pledge ‘one billion years of service’
On top of his ‘schooling’, he says he was required to perform ‘five to ten hours a day’ of unpaid labor.
When he was 14, he says he was moved into a different phase of the program where he was forced to perform up to 12 hours a day of unpaid labor, renovating properties and cleaning them.
‘Gawain was sleep-deprived, given inadequate time to eat, and verbally abused by his adult supervisors,’ the trio’s attorney said.
The lawsuit claims Scientology leader David Miscavige is aware of the child abuse and forced labor and facilitates it with donations to the church
That phase lasted three months and ended with him joining the Sea Org force.
Paris alleges that she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a Sea Org supervisor.
Her duties included landscaping and caring for newborns who were born to other members.
When she was 17, her mother fled the church. She says she was punished as a result.
She claims one of her punishments was being locked in an engine room on the ship for 48 hours when the temperature inside was over 100 degrees.
She decided to leave in around 2011.
By then, she had been taken by the organization to Australia.
She claims the church confiscated her passport, leaving with her ‘no identification and no money’ when she eventually broke free.
She got out by purposely falling pregnant – which was banned on the ship – and says she pretended to continue with the pregnancy even after miscarrying.
‘Another senior officer then screamed at Valeska, telling her she would get cancer and die if she left, and reminding her that she would have to repay all her freeloader debt.
‘Valeska was aware that Sea Org members are not permitted to have children, so she purposely became pregnant and refused demands that she terminate her pregnancy.
‘After six weeks, Valeska miscarried but continued to pretend to be pregnant so that she would be forced to leave Sea Org,’ the lawsuit claims.
Gawain’s wife Laura was also raised onboard the ships. She says she suffered similar abuse.
It is unclear when exactly they left the church, but the pair are both thought to have settled in Australia.
Scientology and Miscavige have not yet responded to the claims in the lawsuit.