Scientology Boss Beat Staff: Defectors
Former execs accuse leader of conducting violent 'reign of terror'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2009 7:40 AM CDT
Church of Scientology artwork appears on the church's new Flag Building, in Clearwater, Fla.   (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
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(Newser) – The leader of the Church of Scientology routinely beat up execs who displeased him, defectors tell the St. Petersburg Times. The men—the highest-ranking Scientologists ever to leave the organization—say David Miscavige attacked and humiliated staffers on the slightest whim. Miscavige, the defectors say in this 3-part investigative series, used his position to wield absolute power and bullied Scientologists into carrying out his every command, no matter how bizarre.

The ex-Scientologists—including Mike Rinder, the organization's spokesman for decades—say it has its own system of "ecclesiastical justice" to keep members in check. They acknowledge carrying out physical assaults themselves but say it was on Miscavige's orders. Scientology officials deny all the accusations, and say the former members are acting out of bitterness and a desire to take control of the church.