Lawyers are desperately searching for Scientology monarch David Miscavige in order to serve the elusive leader in connection with a civil child trafficking suit brought by three former church members.
The plaintiffs, Valeska Paris and Gawain and Laura Baxter, claim in their complaint that they were trafficked through the church’s elite Sea Org group, stating that—as children—they “were placed on a ship they could not leave and routinely punished by being humiliated, interrogated, and imprisoned for the sole purpose of ensuring Plaintiffs would continue to perform back breaking free labor for the Defendants.”
But Miscavige cannot be found, and the victims’ attorneys fear he has gone on the lam.
As the New York Post reports, though many believe Miscavige, 62, is sheltering in the Scientology-owned Hacienda Gardens complex in Clearwater Florida, process servers have been blocked more than 27 times in the past four months as they’ve tried to locate and serve him. Now, plaintiffs’ lawyers have filed a motion to declare Miscavige served, especially considering the public nature of the case and the unlikelihood that Miscavige is unaware of their efforts to make contact.
“Miscavige cannot be permitted to continue his gamesmanship,” attorney Neil Glazer said in a court filing. “There is more than enough evidence to demonstrate that he has intentionally concealed his location and erected obstacles to evade personal service of process.”
In an interview with the Post, former high-ranking Scientology official Karen de la Carriere compared Miscavigae’s reclusivity to the last reigning days of Scientology founder and science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, who died in hiding in a luxury motorhome on a sprawling Creston, California ranch. Citing Miscavige’s alleged crippling paranoia, De la Carriere called him his own worst enemy, saying, “He sees the FBI in his soup. He expects a bullet in his chest by someone somewhere, so he has an entourage like a Third World dictator. He doesn’t make a move without his security entourage. He has a very grandiose image of himself.”
Though efforts to counteract Miscavige’s alleged evasive maneuvers continue, they’re nothing new. Journalist Tony Ortega, who has tracked accusations against Scientology for years, reported on Miscavige’s “gone to ground” strategy, according to the Post, as far back as 2019. The apparent vanishing of Miscavige—whose wife, Shelly, has been missing since 2013—is also raising questions on Scientology-watchers, given the fact that no successor has been chosen to pick up his strange mantle if he is, in fact, gone.
And though Scientology spokesman Ben Shaw has called the Paris/Baxter suit, “scurrilous and ridiculous” and “both a sham and a scam,” according to the Tampa Bay Times, Gawain Baxter is connecting the abuse directly to Miscavige, stating, “The culture of the church is defined by Miscavige. The best thing I could really hope for is to try and create awareness and try to hold him accountable for, in my opinion, the inhumane and barbaric treatment that people go through, that we’ve gone through.”
According to court documents, Baxter was moved to the Scientology “Flag Base,” with his family when he was just a few weeks old. Laura Baxter was also raised in Scientology and Valeska Paris says she was forced to sign a Scientology Sea Org contract when she was just 6 years old.