Many Sea Org volunteers find themselves with no viable options for adulthood
If they try to leave, the church presents them with a “freeloader tab” for all the coursework and counselling they have received; the bill can amount to more than $100,000. “Many of them actually pay it,” Haggis said. “They leave, they’re ashamed of what they’ve done, they’ve got no money, no job history, they’re lost, they just disappear.” In what seemed like a very unguarded comment, he said, “I would gladly take down the church for that one thing.”
The church says it adheres to “all child labour laws”, and that minors can’t sign up without parental consent; the freeloader tabs are an “ecclesiastical matter” and are not enforced through litigation.
Haggis’s friends came away from the meeting with mixed feelings. This would be the last time most of them spoke to him.
When emotional, spiritual or psychological pressure failed to work, Morehead says, physical force was sometimes used
In the days after, church officials and members came to his office, distracting his producing partner, Michael Nozik, who is not a Scientologist. “Every day, for hours, he would have conversations with them,” Nozik told me.
“I listened to their point of best hookup bar Fort Collins view, but I didn’t change my mind,” Haggis says, noting that the Scientology officials, “became more livid and irrational.”
In , Rathbun called Haggis and asked if he could publish the resignation letter on his blog. “You’re a journalist, you don’t need my permission,” Haggis said, although he asked Rathbun to excise parts relating to Katy’s homosexuality.
Haggis says he didn’t think about the consequences of his decision: “I thought it would show up on a couple of websites. I’m a writer, I’m not Lindsay Lohan.” Rathbun got 55,000 hits on his blog that afternoon. The next morning, the story was in newspapers around the world.
At the time Haggis was doing his research, the FBI was conducting its own investigation. Agents Tricia Whitehill and Valerie Venegas interviewed former church and Sea Org members. One was Gary Morehead, who had been the head of security at the Gold Base; he left the church in 1996. In , he told Whitehill he had developed a “blow drill” to track down Sea Org members who left Gold Base. In 13 years, he estimates, he and his security team brought more than 100 Sea Org members back to the base. (The church says that blow drills do not exist.)
Sea Org members who have “failed to fulfil their ecclesiastical responsibilities” may be sent to one of the church’s several Rehabilitation Project Force locations
Whitehill and Venegas worked on a special task force devoted to human trafficking. The California penal code lists several indicators: signs of trauma or fatigue; being afraid or unable to talk; owing a debt to one’s employer. Those conditions echo the testimony of many former Sea Org members.
Defectors describe them as punitive re-education camps. In California, there is one in Los Angeles; until 2005, there was one near the Gold Base, at a place called Happy Valley. Bruce Hines, a defector turned research physicist, says he was confined to RPF for six years, first in LA, then in Happy Valley. He recalls that the properties were heavily guarded and that anyone who tried to flee would be subjected to further punishment. “In 1995, when I was put in RPF, there were 12 of us,” Hines said. “At the high point, in 2000, there were about a 120.” Some members have been in RPF for more than a decade, doing manual labour and extensive spiritual work. (Davis says that Sea Org members enter RPF by their own choosing and can leave at any time; the manual labour maintains church facilities and instils “pride of accomplishment”.)