On April 28, 2022, Cohen Milstein filed a human trafficking and forced labor lawsuit against David Miscavige; Church of Scientology International; Religious Technology Center, Inc.; International Association of Scientologists Administrations, Inc.; Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, Inc.; and Church of Scientology Flag Ship Service Organization, Inc., for violations of the United States Code Chapter 77 of Title 18 and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.
The case Baxter, et. al. v. Church of Scientology International was filed with the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida.
Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants participated in a trafficking venture that committed forced labor, peonage, and other human trafficking offenses against the Plaintiffs in violation of Chapter 77 of Title 18 of the United States Code and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). The Plaintiffs claim that, as young children, they were taken from their parents, prevented from attending any accredited school, and required to work for the Church of Scientology as part of its “Cadet Org” program. They further allege that they were later transported as part of Defendants’ “Sea Org” program to work at the Church of Scientology’s “Flag Land Base” located in Clearwater, FL, and aboard the “Freewinds” cruise ship, where they were isolated and their passports confiscated.
Plaintiffs contend that the Defendants controlled them since childhood; systematically abused them physically, sexually, and emotionally; tried to pressure them into terminating pregnancies through a forced abortion policy; indebted them and threatened them; making it financially, physically, and psychologically impossible for them to leave. In doing so, Plaintiffs allege the Defendants knowingly obtained valuable benefits, including financial enrichment and free labor and services as a result of the Plaintiffs’ forced labor.
Plaintiffs further allege that the receipt of money and unpaid labor also enabled David Miscavige, who directed, led, and ran the Defendant entities, to maintain a façade of legitimacy, a luxurious lifestyle, power over every aspect of the organization’s global operations, and influence over members, including celebrities who joined and publicly promoted Scientology.
Plaintiffs claim each Defendant played a critical role in carrying out the alleged trafficking venture, which was tortious and criminal. As a result, Plaintiffs allege all Defendants knew about the offenses, and are jointly and severally liable for the physical, emotional, psychological, and economic harm caused to the Plaintiffs.