Valeska Paris, a former Scientologist has claimed she was imprisoned by Church of Scientology for 12 years on board a cruise liner after her family denounced the religion.
Valeska Paris says she was held against her will aboard the church’s luxury “cathedral” ship The Freewinds from the age of 18.
The woman, who now lives in Australia, alleges she was forced into hard labour and was never allowed to leave the ship without an escort.
In an interview with the ABC News Lateline program, Valeska Paris claims Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige sent her to the ship to stop her family from pulling her out of the organization.
“I was basically hauled in and told that my mum had attacked the church and that I needed to disconnect from her because she was suppressive,” Valeska Paris said.
“He decided the ship, and I found out two hours before my plane left, I was woken up in the morning and I was sent to the ship for <<two weeks>.”
Instead of the promised two week stay, Valeska Paris said she was forced into work on the lower levels of the ship for 12 years.
“It’s hot, it’s extremely loud, it’s smelly, it’s not nice. I was sent down there at first for 48 hours straight on almost no sleep and I had to work by myself,” Valeska Paris said.
“I did not want to be there, I made it clear I did not want to be there and that was considered bad ethics, meaning it was considered not right.
“They take your passport when you go on the ship and you’re in the middle of an island. So it’s a bit hard [to escape] and by that time I was 18, I’d been in Scientology my whole life, it’s not like I knew how to escape,” Valeska Paris said.
Valeska Paris was born into a Scientology family in Switzerland, and at the age of six she moved to Scientology’s UK headquarters in East Grinstead, where she was placed in its then youth wing.
At 14 Valeska Paris joined the Church’s elite Sea Organization, signing a contract binding her for a billion years, a commitment that would override her bond with her own family.
Valeska Paris’ mother had denounced Scientology on French TV after her ex-husband Albert Jaquier committed suicide.
A self-made millionaire, Albert Jaquier’s last days were spent in poverty, and in a diary he kept he blamed the Church of Scientology for fleecing him of his fortune.
Valeska Paris says the church was so worried her mother would take her away that David Miscavige intervened, ordering she be taken to the church’s cruise ship.
Valeska Paris described David Miscavige as a psychopath and says he should be put on trial.
“It’s not right for someone to be running the church and basically take advantage of a church and hiding behind religion to live like a king and abuse people around him. That man doesn’t like anyone, he’s a psychopath,” Valeska Paris said.
The Freewinds is used as a base to deliver Scientology’s highest level counseling course known as Operating Thetan Level VIII.
It cruises around the Caribbean docking at small islands. The Church says ships have religious significance to Scientologists because its founder L Ron Hubbard, had researched and ministered the first Operating Thetan levels aboard a ship.
A Scientology promotional video says the ship “stands at the forefront of a growing worldwide movement towards spiritual advancement transporting Scientologists to new realms of freedom”.
In a statement, the Church of Scientology denied Valeska Paris’ claims.
The church said: “She certainly wasn’t <<forced>> to be there. She was also never forced to perform labour in the engine room.
“The Freewinds is a wonderful place, as even Valeska said on numerous occasions. Her allegation that she could only leave the ship with an escort is totally false.”
The Church of Scientology is famous for attracting a celebrity following, particularly among Hollywood’s elite.
Among Church of Scientology’s devotees are Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and John Travolta.