5 Dec 2010

Daughter of Scientology leaders in Australia describes it as a toxic organization that treats children like cattle

ABC News - Australia May 18, 2010

Scientology chief's daughter attacks church

Scarlett Hanna has spoken out about growing up in the Church of Scientology. (Lateline)

The daughter of the president of the Church of Scientology in Australia has spoken out against the organisation, describing it as toxic and accusing the church of tearing some families apart.

In an exclusive interview on ABC 1's Lateline, Scarlett Hanna has detailed life growing up in the former Cadet Org: a group set up for the children of Scientology's elite unit, the Sea Org.

"The best way I can describe it is cattle," Ms Hanna said of their treatment. We were property of the organisation."

Ms Hanna is the only child of Vicki Dunstan, president of the Church of Scientology in Australia, and Mark Hanna, a former Asian/Pacific director of public affairs for the church.

She claims children of Sea Org members rarely had contact with their parents, lived in separate homes and were granted only 20 minutes each night with their parents.

"I can't describe it. It was just an incredibly lonely childhood. I had no-one to talk to or to look after to me, or to ask me how I was after school or any of those things that most of us take for granted," Ms Hanna told ABC 1's Lateline.

Sarah McClintock, a current member of the Sea Org, grew up with Ms Hanna and rejects the allegations.

"What she is saying I did not experience. I don't know where she is coming from with such things. It really doesn't make any sense to me because I grew up with her. I was there with her and I think people are giving her things to say," she said.

Sheila Huber, a former Sea Org member, says she witnessed poor treatment of children at the Church of Scientology in Los Angeles.

Ms Huber, a former executive establishment officer for the organisation, cared for children in the Cadet Org when she was 16 years old.
'Terrified of sunlight'

She says she looked after around 30 infants all crammed into a one-bedroom apartment.

Ms Huber claims the children were only allowed outside once in eight months and they were terrified by the experience.

"They spent so much time in their cribs, day after day, night after night, that they wouldn't go in any space larger than the size of their cribs. They were terrified. They were terrified of the sunlight," she said.

Ms Hanna says the Department of Community Services in New South Wales twice visited Cadet Org homes when she was a child.

"The furniture was dismantled by a division within the Sea Org that deals with labour and the kids were sent out for the day so it would appear they were living according to crowding laws," she said.

Ms McClintock says she has no recollection of this occurring.

Ms Hanna says the worst part of her experience was the separation from her parents.

Her father Mark Hanna was sent to the Church of Scientology's rehabilitation unit, the RPF, in the United States when she was a child.

"He was gone for several years probably two or three years," Ms Hanna said.

"I lost my father. I had no-one to talk to - it was very humiliating."

Virginia Stewart from the Church of Scientology in Sydney denies the church routinely separates family members.

"I don't actually agree it's been routinely done and I think in that instance in that family you would have to speak to the father and the mother about why they lived like that, why they chose to take that action," she said.

But Ms Huber, who spent a year separated from her five-year-old boy while in the RPF, says she had little choice.

"I got surrounded by eight grown men, grown Sea Org members, and in a circle around me, telling me I am now going to the RPF," she said.

Ms Hanna says she decided to speak out following the screening of a Four Corners story on Scientology on ABC1 earlier this year.

"I just think the church needs to take some accountability for what it was involved in, maybe apologise to some of these people that have had such traumatising experiences," she said.

The Cadet Org no longer exists in the Church of Scientology. Ms Hanna's parents declined to be interviewed by Lateline.

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ABC News - Australia May 19, 2010

Church of Scientology rejects neglect claims

The Australian Church of Scientology has hit back at claims by the daughter of its president that the organisation created a systematic neglect of children.

Scarlett Hanna told ABC1's Lateline that she and dozens of other children of elite church members were removed from their parents' care and forced to live in overcrowded conditions.

"The best way I can describe it is cattle. We were property of the organisation," she said.

But the church says parents and children who grew up with Ms Hanna have rejected her comments.

It says it has received several written statements from former members who say they led "rich and fulfilling" lives at the organisation.

Sarah McClintock, who says she grew up with Ms Hanna at Cadet Org, the name of the group set up for the children of Scientology's elite unit, the Sea Org, says she is suprised by the accusations.

"I had a very good experience at the CadetOrgs," she said.

"I had many friends and they're still my friends today - they're part of my extended family.

"We grew up in a very healthy environment. We had a lot of love and attention and we did fantastic things together.

"We went on very many outings and we definitely had a very happy childhood."

Ms Hanna is the only child of Vicki Dunstan, president of the Church of Scientology in Australia, and Mark Hanna, a former Asian/Pacific director of public affairs for the church.

She says she decided to speak out following the screening of a Four Corners story on Scientology on ABC1 earlier this year.

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New Zealand Herald - May 21, 2010

Church faces new claims of child sex abuse and neglect

By Greg Ainsley

CANBERRA - Further allegations against the Church of Scientology, including claims of child sex abuse and neglect, have renewed calls for an inquiry into the organisation and its operations in Australia.

The allegations, accusing the church of cover-ups and the mistreatment of children in a toxic environment, follow earlier, alarming investigations and a failed bid for a Senate probe.

Among those making the new allegations is the daughter of the president of the church in Australia, and police are investigating a claim a senior official interfered with an investigation into the reported sexual abuse of an 11-year-old girl.

The claims have been denied by the church, which supported its rebuttal with statements by members who were raised as children of the elite, praising their upbringing.

The allegations, aired on ABC radio's investigative Lateline programme, add to previous reports used to strengthen political efforts to force an official inquiry into the activities of the church in Australia.

In March leading anti-Scientology campaigner Senator Nick Xenophon tried to convince the Senate to open an inquiry into the church's tax-free status, backed by an ABC Four Corners report, the complaints of former members, and "hundreds" of letters raising new allegations.

Four Corners reported claims of forced abortions, imprisonment in boot camps and families split apart, all of which were denied by the church.

But both Labor and the Coalition voted against a Senate inquiry, noting the existence of other tax inquiries and the danger of the Upper House becoming a "de facto criminal investigations bureau" for the disaffected.

Yesterday Xenophon said the latest allegations could not be ignored.

"The best way of dealing with [them] ultimately is to have a judicial inquiry to get to the truth of what's occurred and to make recommendations so that this sort of thing doesn't happen again," he said.

Lateline interviewed Scarlett Hanna, the daughter of Australian Scientology president Vicki Dunstan and former public affairs director Mark Hanna, supported by Sheila Huber, a former executive establishment officer in Los Angeles.

Scarlett Hanna's parents are members of the elite circle known as Sea Org. She grew up in a now-disbanded group called Cadet Org, who she said were separated from their parents and lived in overcrowded conditions without adequate food or medical care.

"The best way I can describe [the treatment of children] is as cattle," Scarlett Hanna said.

"We were property of the organisation [and] although they would like to say that we weren't we were. It was an incredibly lonely childhood."

At 13 Scarlett Hanna was sent to live with adult members of Sea Org in inner Sydney, living a largely unsupervised life from 9am to midnight, and dodging classes at what she described as one of the city's roughest schools.

"I was being bullied and bashed and so I just stopped attending school," she said.

"I started hanging out in parks because I was so socially isolated and this led me to being raped by a convicted murderer and running away."

Huber told Lateline that she had worked for Sea Org as a nanny for Cadet Org children.

She had no training and had sole care of 30 children under 3 packed into a one-bedroom apartment.

"I couldn't believe it," she said. "It was wall-to-wall cribs."

In further allegations Carmen Rainer, the daughter of a Scientologist, said she had been abused by her stepfather but had been told by a senior officer, Jan Eastgate, the abuse was her fault and had been coached to lie to the police. Eastgate was at the time head of the church's anti-psychiatry Citizens Commission on Human Rights. She now is the head of the commission's international head, based in Los Angeles.

"They told me it was my fault because I'd been bad in a past life," Rainer said.

She said she had been told that if she did not lie to police she would be taken from her parents and never see them again.

The church has denied the claims.

It said Rainer's claims were "false, highly defamatory and vigorously denied".

"Not only did church staff help facilitate Carmen and her mother to report the matter to the proper authorities at the time it happened in 1985, it was only through the intervention of the church that the man responsible ultimately turned himself in to the police and was prosecuted," the church said.

It declined direct comment on the Hanna allegations because they were a "private family matter between Scarlett and her parents".

But it said her remarks were not in accordance with the experiences of others who had grown up as Cadet Org children, who said they had lived rich and fulfilling lives.

The statement included six supporting statements, including one from 22-year-old Bindy Bennett, a second-generation Scientologist who said she had lived with Hanna in the Cadet Org for four years.

"Scarlett was very close to her mum and I observed that she would spend a lot of time with her at the church ... [and] stay with her after school most days," Bennett's statement said. "She was also close to her dad."

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