Scientology Leader David Miscavige Served With Human Trafficking Lawsuit

Miscavige had reportedly evaded process servers 27 times over four months before a judge said he was considered served.

Scientology leader David Miscavige was finally served with a long-standing human trafficking lawsuit this week.

The suit was filed last year on behalf of three former members of the church who accused Miscavige of trafficking them into his organization as minors, per Insider.

In court documents viewed by the outlet, Valeska Paris and married couple Gawain and Laura Baxter alleged that they were “coerced” to join the religion — and its notorious Sea Organization arm — to “provide unpaid labor and services for a decade or longer.”

“Plaintiffs were placed on a ship they could not leave and routinely punished by being humiliated, interrogated, and imprisoned, for the sole purpose of ensuring Plaintiffs would continue to perform back breaking free labor,” the suit alleged.

A recent absence from public view — widely chronicled in the press — had prevented Miscavige from being served. According to the court documents, he evaded process servers 27 times at five different locations in Florida and California over four months.

Florida Magistrate Judge Julie Sneed, however, ruled this week that he’s now considered served. The church leader has been given 21 days to respond to the civil suit.

David Miscavige reportedly evaded process servers for months.
David Miscavige reportedly evaded process servers for months.
Handout via Getty Images

Similar accusations of misconduct have been lodged at Miscavige in the past. As recently as 2019, he was sued over claims of “abuse, human trafficking, and intimidation.” Defectors have long warned about allegedly systemic abuse they experienced in the organization — which Scientology has routinely denied.

In a statement to Insider, church spokesperson Karin Pouw decried the allegations from Paris and the Baxters as “absurd, ridiculous, scurrilous and blatantly false.”

“The case is nothing but blatant harassment and was brought and is being litigated for the purpose of harassment—hoping that harassment will extort a pay day,” Pouw told the outlet.

Miscavige grabbed the reins of Scientology when its founder, science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, died in 1986. Critics like Tony Ortega and Leah Remini have since spoken out against the religion and its leader.

But Scientology continues to retain high-profile followers like Tom Cruise and Danny Masterson — whose recent rape trial involving former church members ended in a hung jury. Meanwhile, Shelly Miscavige, the leader’s wife, hasn’t been seen in more than a decade.

Claims of unpaid labor have been lodged against the Church of Scientology before.
Claims of unpaid labor have been lodged against the Church of Scientology before.
Epics via Getty Images

Mike Rinder, a onetime church spokesman turned apostate, cautiously welcomed Sneed’s decision.

“While this is a major accomplishment, it is a small step in the overall scheme of things,” Rinder wrote Wednesday. “The war of attrition and seeking to exhaust the plaintiffs time, money, patience and resolve is just beginning.”

Regardless, the attorneys working on behalf of Paris and the Baxters consider the ruling a success.

“Now that Mr. Miscavige is served, we look forward to continuing to fight for justice for our clients,” lawyers John Dominguez and Zahra Dean told Insider.

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