Via America’s Lawyer: Legal journalist Mollye Barrows joins Mike Papantonio to talk about a lawsuit filed by a former Scientologist against the Church and its leader, David Miscavige. The plaintiff alleges the Church of Scientology engages in forced labor, harassment, and human trafficking.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             The Church of Scientology is again embroiled in legal troubles after a former member files a lawsuit in Los Angeles alleging that the church’s aggressive recruitment and retainment practices violate California human trafficking laws. What’s more, the unnamed plaintiff is seeking compensatory damages and unpaid wages from the church and its leader David Miscavige. Legal journalist Mollye Barrows has followed this in the past, we’re going to talk about it right now. This is a case of, as we’ve talked about before we came here, that it’s a case I was asked to actually get involved with in St Petersburg, Florida. Sarasota, St Petersburg, Florida of all places,

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Is like a big bastion for the Scientologist’s cult.

Mollye Barrows:                I heard.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. So what, tell me about this case.

Mollye Barrows:                Well, this is an interesting lawsuit. It’s been filed by a former scientologist. Her name is Valerie Haney. Now according to the lawsuit, she’s been named as Jane Doe, but her attorney has confirmed that that’s who she is. And she said she was born in the Church of Scientology, raised in the Church of Scientology, and at the age of 15, she was basically appointed to become the personal steward for the, the spiritual head of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige. So at that point, she was at a place called Gold Base, which is their unofficial, I guess, international headquarters in California.

And it was there as his steward that she also developed a relationship with his wife, Shelly, who at the time was 26, I think this was in 2000, mid 2000s. So at any rate, she said that, that was when David began to have a falling out with his wife. He began to talk harshly to her according to the lawsuit, various other indications that there were problems in their relationship. And she said that, that for that reason, she was isolated into a place called the hole, which is a place where they send leaders or other members of the church who basically need to be isolated and are punished. It’s a way of punishing them for…

Mike Papantonio:             Re-indoctrinated is what they tried to say.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah., people…

Mollye Barrows:                To isolate her from Shelly because she was being moved out of his life, essentially.

Mike Papantonio:             Right, right. The case that, that down to St Petersburg we were talking about was this one was held prisoner. I mean, she literally was held prisoner. Look, my call, they’re gonna, they’re, the Church of Scientology is going to get hammered on the human trafficking statute because it’s a very strong one in California.

Mollye Barrows:                Exploiting labor.

Mike Papantonio:             Exactly.

Mollye Barrows:                Is one of the charges.

Mike Papantonio:             I really, really like their, that avenue. More importantly, what I love about this lawsuit is for us to get a, get a look. Get a look at how crazy this cult actually is. You know, L. Ron Hubbard, there was no question when L. Ron Hubbard put all this together, it was very clear that he saw this was a money cash cow.

Mollye Barrows:                Absolutely.

Mike Papantonio:             It was as all about a cash cow.

Mollye Barrows:                An author of science fiction.

Mike Papantonio:             Exactly. In this, this author of science fiction creates, this, it’s nonsense. I mean…

Mollye Barrows:                A religion for tax purposes, essentially.

Mike Papantonio:             Exactly. We’re going to get the IRS to let us have this cult. It’s not a church, but it’s a cult.

Mollye Barrows:                Absolutely.

Mike Papantonio:             They call it a church because they have to call it a church, but it’s a cult. And so now, so people here, you’ve got, you’ve got people being imprisoned according to the allegations here. Human trafficking according to this. Fraud of every kind and we’re just now paying attention to it. Why is that?

Mollye Barrows:                And then slander and libel and intimidation techniques according to this lawsuit, when you do speak out against the church.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Mollye Barrows:                Or if you do try to separate yourself from the church.

Mike Papantonio:             Well we’re speaking out against them right now.

Mollye Barrows:                I know. Who knows, we may end up being followed Pap, I’m not sure.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, you know what, it’s almost good if they bring, you know, when they bring a lawsuit.

Mollye Barrows:                I agree. They expose themselves

Mike Papantonio:             They expose themselves. I would love the opportunity frankly to take the deposition of a few key people here and I think the chances of them losing their IRS tax base, I mean, you know, tax break here.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Could go away. But tell me, tell me more about this.

Mollye Barrows:                Well it’s interesting. So basically in this lawsuit it is bringing to light a lot of the allegations that you’ve heard from various documentaries and different things over the years. And she got out in 2016, 2017 because she said essentially after being in the church for decades, isolated and abused and exploited because of her knowledge of the relationship that deteriorated between David and Shelley. She eventually got out. She was assigned…

Mike Papantonio:             She had to escape.

Mollye Barrows:                She escaped.

Mike Papantonio:             I mean, literally was an excape.

Mollye Barrows:                Literally, because she was assigned to marketing the church and that, had ended up, she developed a relationship with the photographer that she was working with on a video promotional video, and this particular photographer helped her sneak out and she got into the trunk of this person’s car and they drove her off the property and then she started working with Leah Remini, who was also a former scientologist and actress who now does a program exposing what she says are these harmful practices of the Church of Scientology. So of course the Church of Scientology has come out against this and said that these are unfounded, that this particular member was promiscuous of all things.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, they always do. They’ve got so much money behind it. Look, look, understand these numb nuts…

Mollye Barrows:                They don’t want to lose their dollar signs.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, these numb nuts that follow this. They say, here, I’m going to give you everything. And that’s the way L. Ron Hubbard built this. Is you come into my cult and we want to take your jewelry, we want to take your savings, we want to take your pension program all for the furtherance of our Church of Scientology.

Mollye Barrows:                Right. You pay for different levels of knowledge.

Mike Papantonio:             And then course recruit somebody like Tom Cruise. You know, Tom Cruise on the screen, he sounds like he’s, you know, he sounds like he’s all there.

Mollye Barrows:                He’s not all there.

Mike Papantonio:             But when you, when you look behind the story and you see that, you see what this church is all about and he’s not just a member, he’s way, way up in their pecking order of discovery, whatever the…

Mollye Barrows:                It’s a sad situation to me, because I have seen interviews with Tom Cruise and he just sounds like he’s been brainwashed.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Mollye Barrows:                I mean, this whole concept, the way they recruit.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Mollye Barrows:                And once people are in the folds, it’s just mind control.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. This case, this case has potential to bust it open.

Mollye Barrows:                Well, it’s interesting because this lawyer for a particular, for Haney, says that it’s just a matter of time before more suits are coming. That they see more and more people filing similar type lawsuits against the church for this very reason, because they are going after them for basically kidnapping and holding people against their will and then damaging their reputations by going after them so personally.

Mike Papantonio:             We’re going to go after them for human trafficking. It’s just a matter of time.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes, thanks.

Mike Papantonio:             Anyway, thanks for joining us. Okay.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             Let’s follow up on this story too.

Mollye Barrows:                Absolutely.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.