Ex-Scientologists to expose alleged abuse

KABC California/February 12, 2010

Hollywood, California - Former Scientologists are suing the Church of Scientology for abuse they allegedly suffered while working for them. They spoke about the abuse publically for the first time Friday.

"I was personally beat up on five separate occasions by the head of Scientology, David Muscavitch," said former Scientology director Jeffrey Hawkins, a member of the church for 35 years.

Hawkins is a former official of the Church of Scientology who was their marketing whiz then promoted to the top. Now, he and other former employees are working just as hard to expose the church's alleged tactics including assaults, threats and virtual slavery.

"You can't just walk in and out. You have to have an OK," said Hawkins.

Laura DeCrescenzo says that at 7 years old, she signed a contract that would give her a lifetime of lessons if she worked her lifetime for the church in what is called a "billion year contract."

But when she became pregnant at 17, she said that her bosses pressured her to abort the baby.

"I never agreed to have an abortion. Did I concede? Yes, I did. Does it kill me every day? Yes, it does," said DeCrescenzo.

A spokesman for the church calls them disgruntled employees.

"They are frivolous. It's just people trying to get attention and frankly make money from the church, using the press to flank litigation," described Tommy Davis, a spokesperson for the Church of Scientology.

The alleged victims do not attack the church's doctrine, and they say celebrity members such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise are likely unaware of the church's labor practices.

The whistleblowers are aligned with the protest group called Anonymous. Friday marks the second anniversary of global demonstrations.

The former employees are also fighting in the courts. They describe conditions like a prison camp with 100-hour work weeks at 49 cents an hour.

"They are telling that the people that work for them that are employees, that they are volunteers, that they don't have to be paid, and they are not paying these people," said former employee Mark Headley.

"All of us who work for the church love working for the church. We volunteer our time. It is something we do to dedicate ourselves to our religion," said Davis.

But the religion did not help Will Fry.

"It messed me up," said Fry, a former church member.

The church is urging the public to ignore dissenters and check the church out for themselves. Meantime, a demonstration at the Hollywood headquarters for Saturday at 3 p.m.

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