Three Ex- Sea Org Members Sue Scientology, Neil Glazer Is Attorney

TAMPA, FLORIDA – Three Australian residents filed a lawsuit against Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige and five related Scientology-owned entities.

The lawsuit is filed in US Federal Court for the Central District of Florida. The plaintiffs allege violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). Their complaints stem from their membership in the church when they were children.

They are adults now.  

Freewinds sails the Caribbean.

Their lawsuit seeks damages in large part for their mistreatment as teenagers when they were assigned to work on Freewinds, a Scientology- run cruise ship.

Neil Glazer is one of a team of attorneys representing the plaintiffs.

Neil Glazer

“As children, Glazer said, “they were forced to perform labor under unimaginable conditions.”

 

On Freewinds, Scientologists say they teach children about human rights.

The lawsuit alleges that Scientology employs “psychologically devastating tactics” to achieve “coercive control.”

Awards given to Freewinds from Caribbean countries

Science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard founded Scientology in the 1950s. It has attracted celebrities including Elisabeth Moss, John Travolta, and Tom Cruise. Some former adherents accuse the church of being a dangerous, money-focused cult that will destroy the lives of critics. 

Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, Founder of the Church of Scientology

Former Scientology leader Mike Rinder said of the lawsuit, “The allegations are horrendous — but are not new, and similar things have been stated by many others. But this is the first time they have been laid out in a lawsuit.”

The Plaintiffs

Gawain Baxter

Sea Org members are expected to perform challenging and demanding tasks, and must sign employment contracts for one billion years. Gawain Baxter joined Sea Org at age six, he says.

 

Public Affairs Officer of Sea Org Motor Vessel Freewinds

Beginning at age 10, he attended Scientology training sessions. However, he was told he would have to repay the cost of training if he left Sea Org. He alleges he saw his parents for three hours a week and received scant education. He worked five to 10 hours unpaid per day.

His work included food preparation, landscaping, and garbage removal.

As a teenager, Gawain traveled from Scientology’s headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, to Curacao to join the crew of the Freewinds cruise ship that sails around the Caribbean.

According to Scientology, “The Freewinds is a religious retreat that marks for Scientologists the pinnacle of their journey to total spiritual freedom. Its position at sea is designed to provide an aesthetic, distraction-free environment off the crossroads of everyday life. As a center of spiritual enlightenment, it is a place where lives are transformed.”

Aboard Freewinds

When Gawain came aboard, his identification papers were held by the command. He provided manual labor, he alleges, with few breaks and not enough sleep. Tasks were sometimes dangerous. He was once ordered to squeeze into fuel tanks to clean them from the inside. He was not provided with a respirator to protect him from the fumes.

Freewinds promotes training and self-reliance by their highly trained damage control and rescue party.

During renovations of the Freewinds, he worked more than 18 hours a day. Although exposed to blue asbestos and concrete dust, he did not receive protective equipment, he alleges. As a result, he began to cough up blood.

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Laura Baxter

Laura Baxter grew up in Germany. At the age of seven, her mother brought her into Scientology. At 15, she worked as a Scientology employee in Stuttgart.

The Church of Scientology

She had frequent “audits” and “security checks.” An audit is when an auditor asks a series of questions and listens to the person’s responses. These may be secretly recorded. While audited, a Scientologist is attached to an e meter. This device measures the individual’s level of stress, anxiety, or other emotions and can be used to guide the auditing process.

Scientologist John Travolta demonstrates the e-meter.

Laura’s mother signed her guardianship to a senior Scientology officer. She was assigned to the Freewinds. Her documents were taken by the command.

In 2004, Scientologist and actor Tom Cruise celebrated his birthday aboard the Freewinds. Laura was accused of monopolizing his attention and confined to the engine room for three days. 

Tom Cruise celebrates his birthday aboard Freewinds

She says she was only allowed to leave the engine room to eat for a few minutes or return to her room to sleep for a few hours. She alleges she had to urinate in a bin out of fear of being punished for walking to the bathroom unaccompanied.

On the Freewinds, she was forced, she said, to confess to crimes against Scientology, had her pay withheld, was confined, and under surveillance.

Scientology retreats aboard Freewinds teach Global Humanitarian Programs

Gawain and Laura met aboard the Freewinds. Members of Sea Org may marry, but they cannot have children. When Laura became pregnant, the couple was told to terminate her pregnancy. When they refused, they were isolated from the ship’s staff, put under surveillance, and required to undergo ethics handling and security checks.  Gawain was interrogated and criticized for not forcing Laura to terminate her pregnancy, he alleged.

After weeks of isolation, Gawain and Laura were allowed to leave the ship in 2012. Before they could leave, the Baxters were forced to sign documents that they did not have time to review while being videotaped.

“They were trapped on the ship, and the only way off was to submit to the demands of (Scientology) and sign the documents,” the lawsuit states.

According to the lawsuit, the Baxters “are regularly intimidated by phone calls from Scientologists” to remind them they are monitored.

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Valeska Paris

The third plaintiff, Valeska Paris, is a well-known Scientology critic. A second-generation Scientologist, she was born into the church in Switzerland. Her parents, Ariane Jackson, and Jean Françoise Paris signed her up for courses when she was four.

During the training, which continued through adolescence, she alleges, adults asked graphic questions about sexual acts for hours at a time.

When she was six, Valeska’s parents enrolled her with the Cadet Org in England. Scientology’s Cadet Org., for those aged 11-14, is similar to military boot camp and requires a lifetime commitment.

When she was 14, Valeska traveled to Scientology’s “Flag Base” in Clearwater, Florida, as a member of Sea Org. She was tasked with ironing Scientology’s leader, David Miscavige’s clothes, making his coffee, and cleaning the bedrooms of other elite members.

Leader of Scientology, David Miscavige

A senior Scientologist punished her for reporting sexual assault, she said.

After Valeska’s parents split, her mother married Albert Jaquier, a Scientologist and businessman who Valeska claims lost his fortune to the church, spending $6 million on courses. Valeska says her stepfather committed suicide, leaving a diary that denounced Scientology for pushing him over the edge.

Her mother, Ariane, went public and exposed the church for its treatment of Albert.

Because of the scandal, Valeska claims Miscavige ordered her to be sent off to the Freewinds ship.

Paris Valeska

Valeska, who was 18, says she spent the next 12 years on the ship ‘against her will.’

In a statement to DailyMail.com, the Church of Scientology denied Jaquier’s death was a suicide and said his death had ‘no bearing’ on Valeska being transferred to Freewinds.

A death certificate provided by the church showed that Jaquier’s cause of death was determined to be ‘natural’ from his history of heart disease.

They also claim he was worth about $1.2m at his death.

‘Ms. Paris served as a crew member aboard the Freewinds religious retreat as a volunteer religious worker from September 1996 to December 2007. She was an adult and there of her own free will as part of her religious commitment to the Church of Scientology,’ a spokesperson for the church said.

“Scientology is a system designed to perpetuate fear, and I continue to struggle with the trauma… Though bringing this lawsuit is a great personal risk, I could not stand by while countless children continue to be trained for a lifetime of slavery and abuse,” said Paris.

Valeska Pairs

Scientology, or one or more of its adherents, has evidently purchased the domain name Valeskaparis.com. On this website, they write, “Valeska Paris is a liar who makes her living peddling false stories to tabloid media and getting paid for it… Valeska Paris loved her time on the Freewinds, as evidenced by numerous photos.”

The Scientology website alleges, “The true story on Valeska is that she attempted to have an affair with a married man, in contravention with Church ethics. Ecclesiastic Justice assigned her to rehabilitation in Australia, where she got pregnant and was given a pregnancy stipend, and her membership in the religious order was canceled. From then on, she was bitter and has been making up stories ever since.”

Scientology critic, Tony Ortega, has been reporting on Valeska since 2011. He wrote, “Valeska left the Freewinds in 2007, and later left Scientology itself. In 2010 she first went public with her defection at the blog of former high-ranking Scientology executive Marty Rathbun. “

David Miscavige leads the Church of Scientology

The lawsuit names as defendants:

Church of Scientology International Religious Technology Center, International Association of Scientologists Administrations

Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, Inc.,

Church of Scientology Flag Ship Service Organization, Inc.

Neil L. Glazer of Kohn, Swift & Graf, P.C., Ted Leopold of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Gregory Hansel of Preti Flaherty, and Warren A. Zimmerman represent the plaintiffs.

About the author

Frank Parlato

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  • RE: Lawsuit:
    I hope it works out for these poor victimized people who were literally turned over, by there own parents to be used as slaves.
    ***

    Odd that Alanzo isn’t adding his “two cents”.

    Then again, he doesn’t have “two nickels to rub together” either.

  • Frank,

    You cannot say someone “joined sea org” when they were six .

    A six year old doesn’t “join” a Scientology slave ship.

    Very happy you are reporting on the lawsuut!

  • I agree with Malcom X:

    “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.”

    – Malcolm X

  • You can bet your bottom dollar a certain anti-anti-cultist troll will be blaming Mike Rinder, Leah Remini, Aaron Smith, Tony Ortega and every Scientology critic that isn’t a bankrupt, failed marketing consultant for the crimes committed against the Baxter’s and Paris.

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  • Frank should continue to keep an eye on this. Could become very fascinating as it continues.

    To be clear – Sea Org IS Scientology’s slave labor group.

    There is no other way to call it but that. Its where members go to be punished and its where those too poor to pay for classes try to get out of debt to the cult. Its where Raniere got his idea to have most of his members not get paid. As a way to keep Sea Org members in check, everything they do from food, shelter, etc is charged to their account so the result is they never actually get out of debt since the pay is basically non-existent. Sea Org is key part of how Scientology’s is able to keep their rich members happy and money flowing as they are at leadership and rich members beck and call for the price of free.

    Much like with NXIVM, the sticky part is everyone part of Sea Org volunteer to be essentially slaves, as remarkable as that sounds. The children, of course didn’t, but most laws are designed so parental consent is all that is required. Its why a 14 year old can get a full time job or even get married in some states. Not sure if that parental consent has actually been tested extensively so this case could break new legal ground.

    But like with NXIVM, awful behavior that people agree to participate in is why there has been very little legal movement made against Scientology. You can call it brainwashing, manipulation, collateral (in this case via Scientology’s required “auditing”), but volunteering is still volunteering.

    The other thing to keep an eye on is what Scientology calls their “Fair Game” policy. For them it means that any thing and everything is allowed (short of violence) against anyone they perceive to be an enemy of the church. As these three ex-members are now definitely considered. That means constant harassment by following them, banging on their home, constant phone calls, breaking into their home, threats, using justice system to bankrupt them (sound familiar?), and more. They basically have a group dedicated for that purpose, created by ex-member Mike Rinder (I think) who spent years on the receiving end of the very thing he created.

    At the end of the day, everything that Keith Raniere did with NXIVM was really stolen from Scientology policies and just adjusted to meet his particular sexual needs.

Frank Parlato

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premieres on May 22, 2022.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Parlato,_Jr.

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com

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