By the time I got home last night, I realized it was the season two premier of Leah Remini's Scientology and The Aftermath on A&E (which coincided with the release of my article about Scientology in Toronto). It was heartbreaking to listen to the stories of ex-members who alleged they were sexually abused as children. They came forward at different points and in different ways -- but they were victim-blamed by senior Scientologists and asked what they did to deserve the abuse. (This is a method used on adults and children. Victim-blaming is deeply embedded in the Scientology psyche and if something negative happens to you, it's because you caused it.)
Phil Jones, an ex-Scientologist who I spoke with at length, said that if you got into a car accident, you would be audited to see why you deserved it.
"That’s a hundred per cent how it is," Phil told me when we spoke earlier this month. "Even if you were in an accident, if you were hit by a car, they’ll take you in and put you on the cans, the E-meter, and they’ll start (asking), 'What did you do to a car?' or 'Is there another similar time that you damaged a car?' They’ll look for all the things that you did wrong."
This is in keeping with the allegations the two women made last night. They told a teacher. They told a parent. They were questioned. Nothing was done.
It was also terrible to see that the Church did not respond to the sex abuse allegations. Instead, they released a video where a current member dismisses one of the women's claims. When I asked the Church about the defamatory nature of their "news" site The Stand and their other websites, they called the question offensive.
Me, asking over email: Does the Church acknowledge that they have created articles of a defamatory nature about former members on its website standleague.org?
Church of Scientology: This is untrue. The material on these websites is thoroughly fact checked and verified.
So it seems like they won't own up to anything, although it's clear after speaking with Phil and other ex-members that almost every claim on the Stand has been falsified, made up, or twisted.
"We got a hate site up… I mean, all lies," said Phil. "They’ll take a little thing and either exaggerate or lie about it. There’s nothing that they could come out with on a hate site for us."
The Church said that Phil's daughter (through Scientology) had helped her father go from being in a wheelchair to walking.
"They said that our daughter had paid for all this medical care for my back, and got me out of a wheelchair...This is how they position it. All that boils down to was our daughter had called once some years ago (to tell me to go to a chiropractor for back pain)...After a month of insisting she said 'I’ll pay for it.' It was $55," said Phil.