Tonja Burden, ex-Scientologist story #32

 “Finally, in November 1977 I decided I had to escape.  At approximately 4:30 a.m.  I stole the keys from a guard who was sleeping at the door to the storage area where we slept.  I crawled through an air duct on my stomach, where I observed the telephone in the lobby.  I saw no one, ran to the telephone, and called my father and told him of the situation.  He told me he would send my uncle to come and get me and take me to Fort Lauderdale.  I convinced the officers in the RPF that my uncle was a VIP for the Miami Dolphins (which was not true), and that if they refused his request to visit, that might cause bad public relations.  Finally, with my uncle’s assistance, I escaped and flew back to Las Vegas.

     Approximately two weeks after I returned to Las Vegas, two of Hubbards’s agents came to my house and told me that Hubbard wanted to see me.  I told them I would never return.  They then asked if I would go for a cup of coffee with them.  After a short while I agreed to have coffee.  I got in the car, in the front seat, and sat between the two agents.  After driving a few minutes, I noticed we were driving to the highway, and I asked where we were going.  They told me I was being taken to Los Angeles to see Hubbard.

     In Los Angeles I was locked in a room and forced to undergo a ‘security check’ on the E-meter.  I was very scared and crying, and told them I had a family reunion to go to during the Holidays.  I told them I had relatives on the police department in Las Vegas, and that I would come back after the Holidays.  I convinced them to release me, and I returned home by bus.  For weeks after I arrived home, they constantly called me to find out when I would return.  I said Never!

     I was in Scientology from the age of 13 to the age of 18.  I received at some times approximately $2.50 a week pay, and at other times approximately $17.50 a week.  I received no education, and in fact phony classrooms were set up in Florida to demonstrate to educational officials of Clearwater from knowing we were living and sleeping on the floor in hallways and storage areas, sometimes without mattresses.”

The above was part of a court document entered into evidence by Tonja Burden, her story shows that while it is easy to get into but hard, especially if you have been near the top, to get out of.  Her story is compelling, much to the loss of Scientology.  A lot of testimony was entered by other mistreated former members.  This was one of the first cases widely followed in the press that showed the twisted snarl that lurks behind the smile of the evil cult.

In April 1980 Tonja Burden, pushed  into Scientology as a very young teen, sued the “church”  for 16m for failure to give her an education as a child, false imprisonment and many instances of abuse.   As stated above, this case was given wide publicity at the time not only for the shocking nature of her claims but also because she worked in close contact with L. Ron Hubbard while on the Sea Org ship Apollo.  Her statements about Hubbard, the “great  humanitarian” are particularly stinging as are the allegations of working conditions aboard ship.  In her statement about her life on the ship she says,

“On rainy days I ironed the clothes dry.  This required ironing during the evening hours and into the morning hours.  On many occasions I ironed through the night, finishing at 6:00 am.  I then started washing the next morning’s clothing.  On occasion I worked three or four days without sleep.  I fell asleep at the ironing board with a hot iron in my hand.  My senior, ‘Doreen’ Gilliam, ‘caught’ me sleeping and yanked my head off the board.  She ordered me to run laps and assigned me a condition of ‘Doubt.’  A condition of ‘Doubt’ required 15 hours of ‘amends work’.  This additional work had to be performed during my sleep and meal time.  Until I completed my amends work, I was ordered not to communicate with anyone.  I ate lunch alone.  Finally, I spoke up, telling them I had enough.  I was sent to the Commanding messenger, and she assigned me one month in the galley, washing pots and pans.  I washed pots and pans for one month and went back into the EPF.

     EPF was like prison.  I had to say ‘sir’ to everyone and was generally allowed 15 minutes for meals.  They would not let me out of the EPF until I proved myself.  I was totally brainwashed to receive and take orders.  I was paid $2.90 per week for this work.”

This is the world Hubbard wanted for the world, Tonja says further: While on the Apollo, I observed numerous punishments meted out for many minor infractions or mistakes made in connection with Hubbard’s very strict and bizarre policies.  On a number of occasions, I saw people placed in the ‘chain lockers’ of the boat on direct orders of Hubbard.  These lockers were small, smelly holes, covered by grates where the chain for the anchor was stored.”

For the rest of her story just follow the link.

Published in: on April 13, 2011 at 8:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

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