Scientology leader disappears after being named in child trafficking lawsuit

Daily Caller News Foundation

Florida prosecutors are trying to find a missing Scientology leader who is listed as a defendant in a federal lawsuit concerning child trafficking.

David Miscavige, chairman of the board of the Religious Technology Center, is the leader of the controversial Church of Scientology and the sect’s company Sea Org, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Process servers visited 10 Church of Scientology properties and have made 27 attempts to serve Miscavige, but the church leader has been missing for months, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Plaintiffs Gawain and Laura Baxter and Valeska Paris, former Scientologists, claim in the lawsuit that they were forced to sign a billion-year contract with the church, according to the Times. Paris also states that she was also sexually assaulted multiple times during her time with the sect and that when her mother deserted the church she was locked in a room for 48 hours.

The Church of Scientology was founded in 1953 by L. Ron Hubbard but Miscavige became the head of the church in 1986. The church is known for its secretive proceedings, including its own television channel and news, high-profile status among celebrities in Hollywood, and, in addition, accusations of financial fraud, child trafficking, sexual abusecover-ups and forced labor.

Security guards on the group’s properties claimed to have no idea where Miscavige was and refused to take the court documents, according to the Times. Baxter and Paris’ legal team hired a private investigator to track Miscavige down but so far have remained unsuccessful.

A court hearing is scheduled for Jan. 20 to declare Miscavige served by default for failing to accept service papers, according to the Times. Miscavige’s attorney’s claimed in a response filed Tuesday that the church leader should not be included in the lawsuit and “part of a litigation strategy to target the leader of the religion for harassment.”

So far five of the other defendants listed in the lawsuit have been served, according to the Times. Those defendants filed in July for the case to be presented in front of a panel of current church members instead of the courts, but the decision remains pending.

Miscavige also claims that the plaintiffs cannot serve him in Florida because there is no proof of his residence or that he engages in business in the Sunshine State, according to the Times. Miscavige has lived in Scientology-owned properties since he was 16 according to Mike Rinder, a former church executive.

Attorneys for the Baxters and Paris, Miscavige’s attorneys and the Church of Scientology did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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