According to a report in The New Yorker, the Church of Scientology is under investigation for human trafficking and using free labor -- in part, to service the demands of its celebrity icon, Tom Cruise.
After 34 years as a Scientologist, Hollywood screenwriter and director Paul Haggis opened up to The New Yorker in a super-sized feature, revealing secrets of the Church.
The allegations splashed against Scientology in the article involve David Miscavige, the head of the Church and close friend of Tom Cruise. Allegedly, he ordered workers to do tiresome, dirty work to customize a building, rebuild motorcycles, spend over a year fixing a boat and much more for Cruise and the Church.
Their compensation? Fifty dollars a week.
The financial impropriety allegations don't stop there, though. While federal law forbids the heads of tax-exempt organizations from receiving excess financial or material benefit, many ex-members say that Miscavige lived a very lavish lifestyle. He reportedly flew on chartered jets, wore custom-made shoes, had an impressive collection of expensive cars and motorcycles, and even had two chefs.
The investigation apparently centers on accusations of human trafficking and unpaid labor and the article explores the "reeducation" camps to which Scientologists that fail to live up to their religious duties are sent.
One former member, Bruce Hines, said that he was at one camp for six years.
"In 1995, when I was put in [a camp], there were twelve of us," Hines said. "At the high point, in 2000, there were about a hundred and twenty of us."
The Church, in a statement, denied the allegations, said that they knew nothing of the investigation and that it was completed without tangible evidence. Yet the reporter of the story says that two FBI investigators insist that it's still very much open. An AOL News report also says that the case has been closed.
The Church's press release reads in part:
The New Yorker press release and Lawrence Wright's profile on Paul Haggis, "Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology," released Monday, reported on an alleged federal investigation. The New Yorker was well aware the Church knew nothing of the investigation but had refuted the same claims based on a case already thrown out by a Federal Court Judge.
Nonetheless, The New Yorker irresponsibly used the same sources who were discredited in the dismissed case to claim an "investigation" so as to garner headlines for an otherwise stale article containing nothing but rehashed unfounded allegations.
For the entire article, click over to The New Yorker.