A former Scientologist turned whistleblower is now filing a lawsuit against the church of Scientology for human trafficking, among other abuses. Among the allegations against the church and its leader, David Miscavige, is child abuse, human trafficking, and forced labor.
The woman filing the lawsuit was identified only as "Jane Doe," but it was revealed that she was raised by the church from birth, and was a personal assistant to Miscavige since she was 15.
Jane Doe was a member of the group's infamous Sea Organization, which is reserved for the most dedicated Scientologists. Members of the Sea Organization are required to sign a 1 billion-year contract with the church. Things changed for Jane Doe around 2015, when she was taken to a place called "the hole" as punishment.
According to her testimony, the leadership at the church became hostile with her because she knew too much about the abuse that took place there, and she began to object to it.
Then in 2016, she escaped the church in the trunk of a car driven by a non-Scientologist that she was working with on a promotional project for the church.
Rebecca N. Kaufman, an attorney for the Church of Scientology, told NBC that the accusations made by Jane Doe are untrue.
"The lawsuit comprises nothing more than unfounded allegations as to all defendants. It is littered with anti-religious slurs culled from the tabloids and accusations that have been disproven in courts decades ago. We are confident the lawsuit will fail. Federal courts have already determined that service in the Church of Scientology's religious order is voluntary and protected by the First Amendment. Moreover, the evidence will establish that while serving the church, plaintiff came and went freely, traveled the world, and lived in comfortable surroundings. The church will vigorously defend itself against these unfounded allegations," Kaufman said.
However, the church is notorious for brutal intimidation tactics against whistleblowers as Jane Doe's attorney, Brian Kent, pointed out.
The church "has sought to quash dissension, cover up its long history of physical, emotional and sexual abuse of its members, including its most vulnerable members, its children, and weaponize its doctrine against those who escape and find the courage to speak up. This is just the beginning, and we are not going to stop until they do," Kent says.
Despite all of the controversy surrounding the church, it is still considered a tax-exempt religious organization.