Scientology was so incensed by the responses to its attempt to derail a new labor trafficking lawsuit in Tampa, it asked for the chance to make a special reply.
But federal Judge Thomas Barber told them to settle down. He’ll ask for more info if he needs it.
The unusual back and forth happened this week after the plaintiffs suing Scientology — former Sea Org workers Valeska Paris and Gawain and Laura Baxter — had filed responses to Scientology’s motions attempting to end the lawsuit before it really gets going by forcing it into “religious arbitration.”
The lawsuit was first filed on April 28 and alleges that Valeska and the Baxters were 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.
Scientology 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 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 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. Also, Scientology is pointing out that a 2013 lawsuit filed by two former Scientologists, Luis and Rocio Garcia, was forced into arbitration in the same Tampa courtroom, and it was upheld on appeal by the federal Eleventh Circuit. The same fate should apply to the trafficking lawsuit, Scientology asserts.
In response, the plaintiffs filed responses that not only contained sharp arguments from attorney Neil Glazer, but also declarations by Valeska and the Baxters containing testimony that they signed contracts in the Sea Org under duress.
They also submitted a declaration from former church spokesman Mike Rinder describing the total control that Scientology has over its Sea Org workers. On Friday, we posted links to all four declarations.
Well, it turns out that Scientology is apparently fuming over these statements, claiming that they introduce new evidence into the case that Scientology should get an opportunity to rebut.
Calm down, Judge Barber said in his brief comeback to the church. He’ll ask for more help if he needs it: “Defendants’ motions for leave to file replies are denied. If necessary to resolve the pending motions, the Court will direct the parties to file supplemental memoranda or set a hearing to further address the legal issues and arguments in this case.”
Also, Scientology wanted to respond to a declaration filed by a witness for the plaintiffs, trafficking expert Florence Burke, whose testimony no doubt is giving David Miscavige heartburn.
We’ll pull out a few choice quotes from her declaration and link to the full document. We think you’re going to like what she has to say.
I base this declaration on knowledge of human trafficking I have gathered from interviews and interactions I have had with hundreds of trafficked individuals, as well as on my clinical training, experience, study, and research. I have worked with victims of various forms of abuse since 1975 and have developed an expertise in human trafficking and modern-day slavery since 1997. I have provided training on human trafficking to federal prosecutors and investigators at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina and to adjudicators at the Vermont Service Center where T Visa applications are received and adjudicated. I was an active member of the international training team of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and have served on the State Department’s contractor teams that train criminal justice system prosecutors, judges, attorneys, and NGOs in countries where human trafficking is prevalent…
Congress enacted the Trafficking Victim Protection Act in part “to address the increasingly subtle methods of traffickers” who restrain their victims without resort to physical violence.
Most labor trafficking victims are subjected to psychological abuse. For example, a major study on the health risks and consequences of trafficking in women reported that psychological control tactics include intimidation and threats; lies and deception; emotional manipulation; and unsafe, unpredictable, and uncontrollable events. Such psychological abuse is generally persistent, commonly extreme, and frequently perpetrated in such a way as to destroy a woman’s mental and physical defenses. The negative mental health consequences that result are numerous and often long-term.
Labor traffickers use a variety of methods to obtain and control their victims. Some traffickers use direct threats or violence, but others use more subtle forms of coercion and control.
According to a recent study on labor trafficking, the most common form of victimization that individuals experienced at the hands of their traffickers involved methods that disoriented and deprived them from seeking alternatives to their situation. Such methods include isolation, restricted communications, and monitoring or surveillance. The study also found that another form of victimization was demeaning and demoralizing the worker. This method included verbal abuse, sexual abuse, and humiliation. For many survivors of human trafficking, the verbal abuse and shaming they were forced to endure from the perpetrators were enough to stop them from trying to seek help or escape their situation. These findings are consistent with my experience….
The Defendants in this case demanded absolute, unquestioning devotion, loyalty and submission. The Plaintiffs in this case were systematically indoctrinated, manipulated, pressured and punished repeatedly
Indoctrination is a process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically. These Plaintiffs were thoroughly indoctrinated from a young age. Their sense of self was systematically destroyed over time. Psychological growth of children raised this way is usually stunted. These Plaintiffs were caught up in a life that dictated rules and demanded obedience. Every activity of the Plaintiffs was tightly controlled. As is common with people who experience prolonged trauma in oppressive circumstances, their survival depended on their ability to not think and to not question.
These Plaintiffs were compelled to work and live in these circumstances with no access to social services, legal services, or other resources that might have assisted them in escaping and finding help. The only authority figures in their lives were their traffickers and persons tasked by the traffickers with ensuring the Plaintiffs’ continued compliance with their demands.
The specific theory used by Scientology to justify the application of highly abusive, destructive methods that enable it to manipulate, break down and subsequently gain nearly complete coercive control over its subjects, results in long-term emotional, psychological, and even physical injuries. This theory is also used to justify odious forms of child abuse and the covering up of such abuses, including those inflicted upon the Plaintiffs in this case.
The methods of coercion in this case were both overt and subtle. The ongoing indoctrination and systematic exposure to the principles of Scientology and the rules, hierarchy of command and pressure from members coerced and compelled the ongoing and relentless labor of these Plaintiffs.
These Plaintiffs were held on a ship for years without means of escape. Plaintiff Valeska was later held in Australia. During that time, they were mistreated, punished, and humiliated. They were compelled to work in dangerous places and situations without the proper training, equipment, or protective gear. They were exposed to hazardous, toxic materials that are known to have long lasting effects.
After these Plaintiffs were able to leave, they continued to live within a climate of fear. The Defendants and their teaching doctrines, methods and structures continued to control the Plaintiffs who had already suffered greatly and lost personal agency.
The ongoing fear, shame, mistrust, and lack of knowledge about alternatives rendered these Plaintiffs unable to exercise their rights and take legal action for many years. Not only were the Plaintiffs controlled by Defendants, but by family and other members of the organization. They had witnessed the punishments served to others who had tried to escape or report on harmful activities of Defendants.
The effects of the years spent under the control of the Defendants will most likely result in long term adverse consequences, including psychological consequences, for the Plaintiffs. Exposure to complex and chronic trauma can result in persistent psychological problems.
(Here’s the link to Burke’s entire declaration.)
You can see why Scientology isn’t happy that Burke’s declaration has been entered into the court file, and are asking for a chance to respond.
Judge Barber will let them know if he needs any help on that, thank you very much.
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
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The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 (TVPRA of 2003) established human trafficking as a chargeable crime under the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute. It provided a civil right of action for trafficking victims to sue their traffickers.
Look out Davy Mis, a RICO conviction may be in the cards. Your 'religion' can't cover your ass in this one.
Another Judge who appears not to be intimidated by scientology. That’s a good thing. You don’t get a second bite at the apple just because someone who was in your organization is willing to use their inside knowledge against you.