Scientology Vs. Leah Remini: Why The Church Is Fighting Back Now
"Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath" premiered on A&E in November.LEARN MORE
Actress Leah Remini filed a sweeping lawsuit against her former church, the Church of Scientology, for multiple alleged crimes against her.
Leah Remini is suing the Church of Scientology and its leader David Miscavige for harassment, stalking, intentional infliction of emotional distress and other alleged crimes related to her branding as an "enemy" of the organization.
The wide-ranging lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court seeks compensatory and punitive damages to compensate Remini for the alleged harm the church has inflicted upon her and her career due to this branding.
The lawsuit states any person deemed an "enemy" or "suppressive person" is subject to the church's institutionalized "series of retaliatory activities," and Remini claims she is at the very top of the enemy list.
These enemies are people, the 60-page lawsuit alleges, who do anything to "reduce or destroy the influence" of the church, including reporting any of its crimes, advocating for its victims, "public disavowal" of the church or those who commit the highest crime: leaving the church.
Since leaving Scientology in 2013, Remini has very publicly disavowed the church, namely with her series "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath." In it, the "King of Queens" actress detailed the alleged abuse and consequences she faced before and after leaving the church, including her time in the church's Sea Organization.
The Sea Organization, the lawsuit says, is in charge of "executing operations against suppressive persons," which continue until the target is unable to speak out.
"The ultimate purpose of the handling of suppressive persons or attackers is to 'totally restrain and muzzle, obliterate and ruin utterly' any individual they deem an enemy," the lawsuit states.
These operations can include stalking, falsely accusing enemies of crimes and the creating of smear campaigns online, the lawsuit says. In Remini's case, she alleges the church controlled and paid to promote hundreds of social media accounts which exist solely to spread "intentional malicious and fraudulent rumors." Those rumors have included that she was abusive toward her mother and daughter, that she's racist and that she wouldn't pay for her father's cancer treatments, which the lawsuit states were contradicted by emails and financial records.
This is one of the "mob-style operations and attacks" Remini says the church has inflicted upon her and other "enemies" to intimidate them into silence about the alleged decades of misconduct.
"For 17 years, Scientology and David Miscavige have subjected me to what I believe to be psychological torture, defamation, surveillance, harassment, and intimidation, significantly impacting my life and career. I believe I am not the first person targeted by Scientology and its operations, but I intend to be the last,” Remini said in a statement Wednesday.
Remini says she began seeing red flags about the religion after attending the 2006 wedding of Scientology member Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. When she raised those red flags, the lawsuit says, she was subjected to a a Scientology process called the "Truth Rundown."
"Simply put, Truth Rundown is a form of psychological torture meant to rewrite the target’s memories," the complaint says. "It is used by Scientology when Sea Org members report an ethical issue within the organization, and Scientology wants to erase their memory and implant new memories."
The actress said she returned home after months of psychological torture, then she later endured another six months of punishment after asking questions about reports of abuse that had emerged from the church's international base. After this punishment, she resigned from the church.
According to the lawsuit, the following years consisted of multiple related crimes by the church, including multiple stalking incidents and meetings with church members on how to "attack Ms. Remini's credibility."
The complaint says these alleged Scientology practices do not fall under the banner of religious freedom, especially as the practices allegedly continue for those who choose not to associate with the church anymore.
"With this lawsuit, I hope to protect my rights as afforded by the constitution of the United States to speak the truth and report the facts about Scientology," Remini said in her statement. "I feel strongly that the banner of religious freedom does not give anyone license to intimidate, harass and abuse those who exercise their First Amendment rights."
The Church of Scientology hasn't released a statement regarding the lawsuit, but it has long denied any allegations by Remini and other former members. In multiple statements, the church has said her allegations are fraudulent and have been proven "false and defamatory" and says her series and claims are in effort to gain money and fame.
"Leah Remini knows the truth she conveniently rewrites in her revisionist history," one statement said in 2015. "The real story is that she desperately tried to remain a Scientologist in 2013, knowing full well she was on the verge of being expelled for refusing to abide by the high level of ethics and decency Scientologists are expected to maintain. Her repeated ethical lapses and callous treatment of others led to an ecclesiastical review which resulted in her being expelled. She now regurgitates the tired myths the Church has repeatedly debunked, circulated by the same tiny clique of expelled former staffers bitter at having lost the positions they enjoyed before their malfeasance and unethical conduct were uncovered."
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