Scientology defectors describe violence, humiliation in the hole gas oil mix ratio chart


For years in a desert compound east of Los Angeles, dozens of managers for the Church of Scientology endured an unusual trial by fire. The church called it "ecclesiastical discipline," part of the religion. But some managers came away with stories so troubling they attracted the attention of the FBI. They tell of violence and abuse in a place called "the Hole." The church says their stories are lies and exaggerations.

This is the most detailed account yet of what happened inside the Hole. It is based on numerous interviews with a dozen former members of the church’s religious order, the Sea Org, and on information found in church materials and court testimony.

To outsiders, it may have appeared the Church of Scientology was humming along nicely in the mid-2000s. Church officials spoke of a Scientology "Renaissance." Years of strife over the death of a Clearwater Scientologist, Lisa McPherson, had ended.

As the decade wore on, it became a place of confinement and humiliation where Scientology’s management culture — always demanding — grew extreme. Inside, a who’s who of Scientology leadership went at each other with brutal tongue lashings, and even hands and fists. They intimidated each other into crawling on their knees and standing in trash cans and confessing to things they hadn’t done. They lived in degrading conditions, eating and sleeping in cramped spaces designed for office use.

Former church spokesman Mike Rinder said Miscavige became angry in 2003 and 2004 after large church events — always painstakingly choreographed — went badly. Miscavige called Rinder and other top leaders "suppressive persons." SPs are considered enemies of Scientology. It’s a deep wound to anyone who has pledged to serve the church for a billion years.

By day, they were ordered to a conference room in a small office building where the church’s international management team worked. Miscavige said they were to do their "A to E steps," a kind of penance SPs can perform to return to good standing.

As part of their code, Sea Org members promise to always be competent, never make excuses and demand the same of their peers. Like all Scientologists, they believe that keeping transgressions secret burdens a person and weakens those around him.

Miscavige ordered John Brousseau, a longtime staffer at the base, to put bars on the doors. Brousseau found several chrome-plated steel bars in the maintenance garage and cut them to fit. He screwed them across three of the building’s four exit doors. He also fastened wooden blocks into the window tracks, preventing them from opening more than a few inches.

Nori Matsumaru, a longtime Sea Org member and one of hundreds working in nearby buildings, saw Brousseau working and objected. The bars could be seen by any outsider coming onto the base. "Don’t do that," he said. Brousseau said he had his orders.

With many of Scientology’s leaders in the Hole, Miscavige summoned Debbie Cook to California in 2005 to help out. Cook had run the church’s worldwide spiritual headquarters in Clearwater since 1990 and was one of the most recognizable faces in Scientology. She later testified under oath about her experience.

Cook watched as Miscavige’s assistant physically attacked Nelson and two other Sea Org members took him into an adjacent room. Cook heard the sound of fists meeting skin behind the door. Nelson was made to lick a bathroom floor for 30 minutes.

By 2007, occupants of the Hole were dreaming up new ways to elicit more lurid confessions. They took turns seizing the roles of chief inquisitor and drill sergeant. Some sought to survive by showing Miscavige how tough they could be on their fellow SPs, even if it meant betraying friends.

In May 2007, it was Cook’s turn to experience the humiliations of the Hole. She was on the phone with Miscavige when two men came to her office at the Int Base, impatiently banged on the door, then broke in through a window. "Goodbye," Miscavige said over the phone, and the men took her away.

As always, anyone who tried to intervene and stop the madness risked being targeted by the mob. When Cook stood up for Lesevre and Yager, the group turned on her. They put her in a trash can with a sign "Lesbo" around her neck. They screamed at her to confess she was gay and poured cold water over her head.