Scientology Accused of Human Trafficking

     LOS ANGELES (CN) - A woman accuses the Church of Scientology of human trafficking, obstructing justice, employment violations, discrimination and violation of privacy. Laura Ann DeCrescenzo says she signed her first "contract" with the church when she was 12, and did not "escape" until she had suffered 13 years of forced labor at less than minimum wage.
     "There are two very different versions of Scientology," DeCrescenzo aka Laura Dieckman says in her Superior Court complaint. "There is the Scientology as presented to the outside world and there is a different Scientology in which plaintiff lived and worked for approximately 13 years. In the Scientology world plaintiff experienced, 12-year-old children are taken from their homes, asked to sign employment contracts and put to work. Pregnant women are coerced to have abortions. Employees work 100 hour weeks in the business ventures of Scientology at far less than minimum wage. There are no contributions to Social Security or employee pensions, although there is plenty of money to pay Scientology's Chairman of the Board, private investigators and lawyers. Personal freedoms are restricted and severe punishments are used to keep employees in line. Passports are taken from foreign workers and the infirm are discarded if they cannot perform. For reasons obvious to those who know the real Scientology, it fears the truth and works hard to suppress and deny it at almost any cost. That is the context of this litigation.
     "The gist of the case is to recover past due wages, interest, other economic damages and attorney's fees for defendant Church of Scientology International's (CSI) many years of continuing labor and human trafficking violations. ... In related causes of action, plaintiff also complains that she was coerced to have an abortion, was the victim of intentional infliction of emotional distress and that defendant is attempting to silence other employees who are potential witnesses and co-plaintiffs in this case. Illustrative of plaintiff's experiences while working for defendant is the fact that she displayed suicidal tendencies and swallowed bleach to expedite her quest for freedom."
     The complaint adds: "Plaintiff started working for a Scientology organization in her hometown at the age of nine. She obtained a work permit and became effectively a full-time employee of Scientology from age 10. At age 12, plaintiff signed her first 'Contract of Employment.' She left school, home and family to work for the Church of Scientology International. This required that plaintiff move to another state. She was married to a co-worker at age 16, became pregnant while still a minor and was coerced by CSI to have an abortion at age 17. Plaintiff escaped in 2004 at age 25. For over 13 years, plaintiff worked under illegal conditions and for illegal pay. There are hundreds, probably thousands, of past and present employees of CSI who experienced similar violations of rights, however, most are ignorant of their rights, under the misapprehension they had no rights or surrendered them in various documents they were required to sign, or are afraid to come forward and challenge the dark side of Scientology."
     Plaintiff is represented by Barry Van Sickle of Roseville.