Here are Scientology’s new motions to force arbitration in the Valeska Paris case
Once again, Scientology has filed its motions asking a federal court in Tampa to derail a major new labor trafficking lawsuit against the church by forcing it into Scientology’s own brand of “religious arbitration.”
The lawsuit was first filed on April 28 by three residents of Australia who were longtime members of Scientology’s “Sea Organization” and served on its floating cathedral, the Freewinds, which sails the Caribbean. The three plaintiffs, Valeska Paris and a married couple, Gawain and Laura Baxter, allege that they had been forced into the Sea Org as children, suffered neglect and harsh punishments as children and adults, and served as virtual prisoners aboard the ship. Valeska also alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by other Sea Org workers, and then had been punished for speaking up about it.
In July, the Scientology subsidiaries named in the lawsuit responded by filing motions to compel arbitration, a strategy that has largely been a successful one for the church in recent years. The church says that Valeska and the Baxters had signed contracts between 2003 and 2015 that obliged them not to sue but to take their grievances to Scientology’s internal form of arbitration. The church’s filings largely ignored the allegations of neglect and abuse that the lawsuit made, and argued that a contract was a contract and these former Sea Org workers can’t sue.
Instead of responding to Scientology’s motions, the plaintiffs decided to submit a new, amended complaint on August 2, growing the lawsuit from 90 to 120 pages. We provided readers a copy of the new complaint with the added material highlighted, which were mostly additional details of the horrific treatment these former Sea Org workers had been through.
When we posted that amended complaint, we pointed out that we weren’t sure how the added pages detailing that mistreatment would help address the arguments that Scientology was making in its motions to compel arbitration.
And now, Scientology has submitted new versions of those motions, and they are very similar to what they had submitted before.
Scientology, in other words, continues to ignore the stories of abuse and mistreatment and insists that this is merely a contract dispute.
Plaintiffs each served for over a decade as members of the Sea Organization, a religious order within the Scientology religion, and time and again they agreed to submit “any” disputes they might have regarding such service to Scientology internal ethics and justice procedures, up to and including binding religious arbitration. They executed those agreements to arbitrate under Scientology ecclesiastical law and justice procedures and to waive civil recourse as an express condition for serving as members in Scientology’s religious order.
The Flag Ship Service Organization (FSSO), the Scientology entity that operates the Freewinds and one of six defendants named in the lawsuit, says it located contracts signed by Gawain Baxter (2003), his wife Laura Baxter (2004), and Valeska Paris (2003) that all contained the binding arbitration language. FSSO also points to a 2013 lawsuit filed by Luis and Rocio Garcia in the very same Tampa courtroom, which was forced into arbitration. And this case is even stronger, Scientology says, because the Garcias were only public parishioners, but Valeska and the Baxters were dedicated members of the Sea Org, its “religious order.”
Another Scientology defendant, the Flag Service Organization (FSO), which runs the Flag Land Base, Scientology’s spiritual mecca in Clearwater, Florida, filed a similar motion to compel arbitration. Besides FSO and FSSO, the other three institutional defendants are the Religious Technology Center (RTC), Church of Scientology International (CSI), and the IAS Administration (IASA). CSI filed its own motion to dismiss, saying that it is a California corporation and does not operate the Freewinds, where the allegations took place. IASA similarly filed a motion to dismiss saying that it is a Delaware corporation and should not be included in the Florida lawsuit. And RTC also claims that it is a California corporation and should not be included. (Scientology always pulls this alphabet soup defense when it suits them.)
Maybe the most interesting difference between the last set of Scientology motions and this one was that there was, in a footnote, a response to the amended complaint’s claim that Scientology leader David Miscavige is evading service since being named a defendant in the case.
Here’s the footnote, in RTC’s motion to dismiss:
Plaintiffs allege that Mr. Miscavige concealed his whereabouts to evade service…and that RTC, through counsel, or some unnamed staff, have impeded Plaintiffs’ efforts to serve Defendant Miscavige. These false allegations are a baseless attempt to malign RTC and its Chairman based upon Plaintiffs’ own failures to effect service of process properly and are Plaintiffs’ attempt to lay the groundwork for pursuing substitute service on Mr. Miscavige through the Florida Secretary of State. The Court should reject Plaintiffs’ contrived efforts to circumvent proper service requirements, or to lay blame at RTC’s door. Neither RTC nor its counsel, nor any other Corporate Defendant or third party for that matter, has any obligation to assist or facilitate Plaintiffs’ efforts to perfect service on another defendant and declining to provide such assistance is not tantamount to impeding service. Plaintiffs alone bear the burden to perfect service of process. If unable to serve through good faith efforts during the allotted period, Plaintiffs have no one but themselves to blame.
In other words, it’s your own fault you can’t find our diminutive leader behind the layers of the security we keep around him at all times. Nyah, nyah.
Here are the documents themselves. You’ll see that Scientology always acts shocked, shocked, that anyone would suggest that David Miscavige is really in charge of everything that Scientology’s subsidiaries do, when those subsidiaries are, in fact, responsible, independent corporations that have nothing to do the abuse that might be alleged by misguided former members. Perish the thought.
Finally! Taking a name OFF of the disconnection list
Yesterday’s podcast episode with Carol Nyburg contained a huge surprise: After eight years of separation caused by Scientology’s notorious “disconnection” policy, she has been reunited with her daughter, who has left the church.
We first added the list of names to the end of our stories in 2017, after feeling the exasperation of seeing Bernie Headley battling cancer and still being kept from his daughter by this cruel organization that calls itself a church. (Bernie died in 2019 without ever seeing his daughter in person again. We maintain the list in part as a tribute to him.)
Scientology’s disconnection is so pernicious, it is exceedingly rare for someone to leave our list. The last time we got to write a reunion story was in 2014, more than eight years ago.
If you listened to the podcast, you could hear how stunned we were to hear Carol’s wonderful news. We genuinely did not know it was coming. And we’re thrilled that she is now, as she says, surrounded by grandbabies and so much love.
The podcast was the third episode in our special limited series about a TV series that was put together about Scientology in 2016 but never aired. We are producing the series as a special thank-you to our paid subscribers, who have been so generous to us. We have other podcast episodes for unpaid subscribers that can be found here.
Thank you for reading today’s story here at Substack. For the full picture of what’s happening today in the world of Scientology, please join the conversation at tonyortega.org, where we’ve been reporting daily on David Miscavige’s cabal since 2012. There you’ll find additional stories, and our popular regular daily features:
Source Code: Actual things founder L. Ron Hubbard said on this date in history
Avast, Ye Mateys: Snapshots from Scientology’s years at sea
Overheard in the Freezone: Indie Hubbardism, one thought at a time
Past is Prologue: From this week in history at alt.religion.scientology
Random Howdy: Your daily dose of the Captain
And whatever you do, subscribe to this Substack so you get our breaking stories and daily features right to your email inbox every morning…
Now available: Bonus for our supporters
Episode 9 of the Underground Bunker podcast has been sent out to paid subscribers, and Marc Headley returns to explain why he took the trouble to submit a lengthy response to a Scientologist’s nutty YouTube video. Meanwhile, we’ve made episodes 1 through 8 available to everyone, with Patty Moher on her career as a Scientology spy, Geoff Levin on Scientology’s celebrities, Pete Griffiths on running a mission, Sunny Pereira dishing secrets of Scientology’s Hollywood Celebrity Centre, Bruce Hines on the crazy life in the Sea Org, Jeffrey Augustine on recent Scientology court cases, Claire Headley exposing Tom Cruise, and Marc Headley on what it must be like for David Miscavige living in Clearwater, Florida.. Go here to get the episodes!