Amended complaint: Even more horror in labor trafficking lawsuit against Scientology
We have the new amended complaint that was filed yesterday in the labor trafficking lawsuit first filed against Scientology in April, and it contains even more horrific detail about the hardships endured by Valeska Paris and Gawain and Laura Baxter, former Sea Org workers who today live in Australia.
From the original complaint of 90 pages, the new version has grown to 120 pages, so there are a lot of additions. In order to be as helpful as possible, we’re providing a copy of the amended complaint with the new stuff highlighted. You can see for yourself where the additions are, and in what context.
The lawsuit was filed on April 28 by Valeska and the Baxters, alleging that they had been forced into Scientology’s Sea Org as children, and had suffered abuse and neglect and harsh punishments into their adult years as virtual prisoners aboard Scientology’s cruise ship, the Freewinds. Valeska also alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by other Sea Org workers, and then had been punished for speaking up about it.
Scientology responded to the lawsuit by filing motions to compel ‘religious arbitration’, saying that as adults the three former Scientologists had signed contracts between 2003 and 2015 that obliged them not to sue the church. Scientology’s response didn’t even address the allegations of child abuse in the complaint, or the sexual assault claims made by Valeska. Scientology also filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit based on jurisdictional issues and on the merits of the case.
The plaintiffs had a deadline of August 2 to file oppositions to Scientology’s motions, but instead notified the court that they were going to file an amended complaint instead. Scientology, meanwhile, said its motions were moot and it would wait to respond to the new complaint: In other words, the lawsuit was getting a do-over from both sides.
The amended complaint does contain substantial changes, and they tend to be in two areas: Complaints that Scientology leader David Miscavige is evading service of the lawsuit (which they also detailed in an earlier document), and even more detail from each of the three plaintiffs about the abuses they suffered, as well as harassment they have been enduring since they left Scientology and even since they filed the lawsuit.
The causes of action, however, remain the same: Labor trafficking, conspiracy to commit labor trafficking, and some related charges.
As to Miscavige, the plaintiffs figure he’s living at the Hacienda Gardens apartment complex in Clearwater, and working out of the Flag Building at Scientology’s Flag Land Base. But their process servers have been unable to get past Scientology security guards to get near the church leader.
As for the plaintiffs themselves, we’ll highlight a couple of items added to the complaint. Gawain and Laura Baxter say that since filing the lawsuit, their family members who are still Scientologists have been ordered to relocate to Clearwater.
Right after the Complaint in this action was filed on April 28, 2022, Claudia Abadia, an HCS staff member on the Freewinds, attempted to view private family photos Gawain had shared with his father via an online service. On May 12, 2022, Gawain received a phone call from his father, Arthur Baxter, mother Vivienne Baxter, and half-sister Genny Mitchell, during which he learned that they had all been required to relocate to Clearwater, Florida from their posts in other parts of the world. Gawain’s family yelled at him, attempted to pressure him to admit he was lying and to withdraw the lawsuit. Gawain received a similar call on May 21, 2022, from Genny, and on May 29, 2022 and June 15, 2022 there were two more calls from his father. Each call followed a similar script, clearly designed to pressure him into dismissing his claims against Defendants…Laura learned that her sister, still in Scientology, had been moved to Clearwater on June 6, 2022, and on June 14, 2022, her mother, also still in Scientology, who had been relocated to Clearwater from Germany, attempted to engage her in a heated discussion of the lawsuit and to pressure her into dismissing it.
Valeska, meanwhile, added devastating new information about what she and her husband Chris Guider went through before they managed to escape from the Sea Org.
Valeska was aware that Sea Org members were not permitted to have children, so she purposely became pregnant. Defendants also had a policy or practice of forcing women in Sea Org to have abortions, but Valeska refused demands that she terminate her pregnancy, because she knew if she had the abortion she would not be permitted to leave Sea Org. Valeska was denied any prenatal care and was still required to work long hours and subsist on the squash pies, cereal, stale bread and other poor-quality food fed to Sea Org members. Because of her forbidden pregnancy, Valeska was shamed; people stopped speaking to her, and she felt compelled to eat in her room. After six weeks, Valeska began bleeding. The next day, Valeska went to an emergency room and was finally treated. She had had a miscarriage.
Because losing the baby put her at risk of being kept in Sea Org, Valeska did not tell anyone other than Chris that she miscarried.
Vicky Dunstan, the Commanding Officer for Australia in CSI’s OSA, who reported directly to the senior most OSA officer under Miscavige, then informed Valeska that they would permit her to leave Sea Org, but only once she completed security checks to their satisfaction, which became a four-month ordeal. After completing an initial round of security checks, two senior officers were sent by Miscavige from the United States to Australia to put her and Chris through a second, even more harsh round of security checks and ethics handlings.
So the new amended complaint is even more comprehensive about the horrible experiences Valeska and the Baxters have had to endure, and it also has a lot of detail about the futility of trying to serve David Miscavige.
But we’re not sure how that added material will head off what we already know is going to be Scientology’s response: Motions to compel arbitration.
Here’s the amended complaint. Let us know what strikes you about the new, highlighted material.
If that doesn’t work, here’s an alternate link for the document.
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It’s always weird to read names of people that I at least knew when I was in.