February 16, 2023

The church’s top official is formally served in a Tampa lawsuit after lawyers for the plaintiffs tried 27 times to notify him.

A U.S. magistrate judge has ruled that Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige was “actively concealing his whereabouts or evading service” in a federal trafficking lawsuit and declared him officially served in the case.

Judge Julie S. Sneed noted that opposing attorneys had gone to significant lengths to serve Miscavige with the lawsuit filed in Tampa federal court last April. Valeska Paris and husband and wife Gawain and Laura Baxter allege they were trafficked into Scientology as children and forced to work for little or no pay as adults.

Process servers tried to deliver court documents to Miscavige 27 times between May and August at 10 church properties in Clearwater and Los Angeles and were turned away by security. During a meeting on Jan. 25, attorneys for the Baxters and Paris asked Miscavige’s attorneys if they would accept service for their client. They declined.

Parcels with the court papers sent by certified mail to Scientology properties were returned to sender with unsigned return receipts, refused at the location or lost in the mail.

“For years, David Miscavige has succeeded in evading accountability,” according to a joint statement from attorneys John Dominguez and Zahra Dean, who represent Paris and the Baxters. “(The) ruling brings our clients — who alleged to have endured unimaginable abuses in Scientology as children and into adulthood — one step closer to getting their day in court and obtaining justice against all responsible parties.”

Read the complete article on Tampa Bay Times.