The Church of Scientology is trying to dampen down another scandal from a former high-ranking member. Debbie Cook ran the church’s Flag Base in Clearwater, Florida for 17 years. A former “captain”, Cook has offered testimony and given interviews detailing alleged physical abuse by church leader David Miscavige as well as a hellish trailer known as “the hole” for bad scientologists. It has been a bad period of Scientology which recently saw a French court uphold its fraud conviction in France.
Cook testified that “I witnessed Mr. Miscavige physically punching in the face and wrestling to the ground another very senior executive at Scientology International level.” She also said that Miscavige ordered another scientologist to slap her so hard that it knocked her down.
Then there is the hole, described as a pair of double-wide trailers with guards posted at the door. She said that she and others were forced to sleep on the floor in trailer infested with ants and fed “leftovers, slop, bits of meat, soupy kind of leftovers thrown into a pot and cooked and barely edible.”
She described demeaning forms of punishment and eventually was given $50,000 in exchange for promising not to speak ill of the Church or its leaders when she and her husband left the Church.
The Church denies the statements but has not announced a libel action — a curious omission for the notoriously litigious church. Of course, a libel lawsuit would trigger discovery and a claim of truth as the ultimate defense to defamation.