‘The ques­tion we should be ask­ing, is how can the head of a ma­jor re­li­gion ban­ish his wife, and no one does any­thing?’

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - INTERNATIONAL REPORT -

The worst pu­n­ish­ments, she re­calls, were set aside for those who sim­ply showed a lack of re­spect for au­thor­ity. She says that if he felt slighted, David would ‘make peo­ple crawl on their knees un­til they’d blis­ter’. The church cat­e­gor­i­cally de­nies all claims of abuse. It points to a grow­ing global mem­ber­ship of millions, all seem­ingly liv­ing healthy, pro­duc­tive lives within their com­mu­ni­ties, as proof that these al­le­ga­tions stem from re­li­gious big­otry. How­ever, ac­cu­sa­tions of crim­i­nal and un­eth­i­cal be­hav­iour have dogged Scien­tol­ogy since its birth. This air of an­i­mos­ity be­tween the church and its many crit­ics has led to an ‘us against the world’ men­tal­ity among Scien­tol­ogy’s faith­ful. And it was in this en­vi­ron­ment that Shelly spent her most for­ma­tive years.

When Shelly left the care of her par­ents to work for Hub­bard, the Scien­tol­ogy founder was run­ning the church from the Apollo. To this day, the church’s in­ner cir­cle still goes by the name Sea Org, short for Sea Or­ga­ni­za­tion, in hon­our of those who chose to live on the ocean with their founder. In the decade af­ter she ar­rived, Shelly be­came a favourite of Hub­bard’s and her stature among her peers grew. In 1982, just be­fore she turned 22, she mar­ried the man Hub­bard had groomed to be his re­place­ment, David Mis­cav­ige.

Un­like Shelly, David was not raised in the church; he and his par­ents did not con­vert to Scien­tol­ogy un­til he was 11. As soon as he joined, how­ever, it was as if Hub­bard and the church had been wait­ing for him to ar­rive. He was in­stantly deemed a prodigy by church lead­ers, and at 12 be­came the youngest per­son ever to be­come an au­di­tor. By many ac­counts, at the time he mar­ried Shelly, he had uno cially taken con­trol of the en­tire church. Four years later, Hub­bard passed away and David took Scien­tol­ogy’s helm. He im­me­di­ately re­moved lead­er­ship ri­vals on ethics charges, and took the man­tle as the church’s gure­head.

Sub­se­quent years were heady ones for Shelly. But if sto­ries from crit­ics and ex-church lead­ers are to be be­lieved, those years were also un­ques­tion­ably dark. Over the next two decades, re­ports be­gan to sur­face that David quickly evolved into some­thing of a tyrant, and Shelly a tyrant’s as­sis­tant. Some ex-mem­bers of Sea Org told tales of David ver­bally abus­ing, hit­ting and spit­ting on other lead­ers who fell into his dis­plea­sure. They also spoke of ‘The Hole’ – a se­cret lo­ca­tion in

Shelly is be­lieved to be at this se­cret base hid­den deep in the San Ber­nadino moun­tains, where the spikes on the fence point in­wards; David Mis­cav­ige; a young Shelly Mis­cav­ige

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