This is the story of Melissa Paris, sister of Valeska Paris who had been kept a prisoner aboard the Scientology slave ship Freewinds for 12 years. She is the daughter of Ariane Jackson whose second husband Albert Jaquier died in sorrow and misery after being swindled and left a pauper by fellow Scientologists. Excerpts are from the following story.
Melissa Paris, Valeska’s Sister, And Her Own Ordeal in Scientology’s Cadet and Sea Orgs: Forced to Marry at 16
By Tony Ortega, Village Voice Blog, 12/1/11.
In December of 1996, Melissa Paris was 16 years old, and had been married for a few months to a man she says she was forced to wed. An unpleasant match, the marriage ended when Melissa left him — and Scientology’s hardcore and controlling Sea Org — two years later.
But that was in the future. In the months after her wedding, she was in a unique position, and she knew it. Her husband, Cyril Helnwein, who was himself a teenaged Sea Org member of about 18, was from a wealthy family. The son of an internationally famous artist (more on that later), Cyril had means. So, when they had returned, after the wedding, to grueling weeks of menial, unpaid labor that she had already endured for two years as an underaged Sea Org member at L. Ron Hubbard’s legendary former home in England, Saint Hill Manor, she asked her rich young husband to grant her a wish.
Fly me to a ship. The Freewinds. For our honeymoon.
Melissa asked this, not really out of a romantic notion, but knowing it might be her only chance to see her sister, Valeska, who had just been put aboard the ship against her will.
And so, in December 1996, the Paris sisters were briefly reunited after not seeing or communicating with each other for two years.
It would be another 13 years before they saw each other again. . .
If Valeska was held against her will on a ship plying the Caribbean, Melissa was a prisoner on land, going four years at Hubbard’s famous estate in the UK doing menial, punishing labor, and over the course of those four years, almost all of it as a child, she was paid a total of about $40.
Not $40 a week. $40 in four years, as an underaged teenager working extremely long hours and getting little sleep.
And yet, throughout her ordeal, while her father and brother “disconnected” from her, after her schooling had ended when she was 12 years old and she had run to places like Los Angeles to work as a 14-year-old nanny, knowing no one, she kept one goal in front of her: she would, someday, reunite with her older sister.
Here’s how that journey unfolded. As we mentioned Tuesday, Valeska and her sister Melissa were born in Geneva, Switzerland to a man named Jean-Francois Paris and a woman named Ariane Jackson, both Scientologists. In 1983, the couple split and Paris took his daughters, and their younger brother, Raphael, to England, where he signed up for Scientology’s Sea Org, the ascetic outfit that requires its workers to sign billion-year contracts with a promise to come back lifetime after lifetime for endless hours and pay of about $50 a week.
While Jean-Francois put on his naval Sea Org outfit, his three children were assigned to something called the Cadet Org, a sort of mini-Sea Org for children, to toughen them up with menial chores and poor living conditions at a rundown manor named Stonelands. . .
Valeska was 6. Melissa was 4. Raphael had just turned 2. Melissa lived at Stonelands, and was in the Cadet Org, for eight years, until she was 12.
I asked her what a typical day was like, in the summer, when she was 7 or 8 years old.
“We would get up at about 7 o’clock. We’d muster — we’d all stand in a line, according to divisions. Then we had to breakfast on time, because if you missed it, you didn’t eat,” she says. “Then some would go to Saint Hill and do their jobs. Others would stay at Stonelands and had to clean the house. There wasn’t much free time, maybe an hour or two. When I was younger there had been something called Family Time, an hour or two in the evening when you saw your parents.”
Once they took away Family Time, when she was about 6 or 7, her day didn’t include seeing her father at all.
“We did study. We studied Scientology. And that was pretty much our day. And weekends weren’t any different. Yeah, we didn’t live like kids,” she says. In an Internet post, she has written at length about governesses who regularly hit the children, and how kids ganged up on each other. . .
With parents not around, it was difficult to get any sympathy. “You’re so in Scientology, you really can’t go against them. You’re adults in smaller bodies,” she says, referring to Scientology’s belief that we have all lived countless lives, and that if we wear a child’s body in a new lifetime, our thetan, or soul, is ancient. In that scenario, they believe, it makes little sense to treat a youngster as anything but a stunted adult.
During the school year, the Paris children went to a private Scientology school, Greenfields. “But even there, we were Stonelands kids. Dirty. We had lice. We got made fun of quite a bit,” Melissa says.
Then, in December 1994, she joined the Sea Org. She was only 15 years old. (Her sister, Valeska, had joined even earler, at 14. One girl in her area was a Sea Org member at only 10, Melissa says.) That same month she joined the Sea Org, her former stefpather, Albert Jaquier, died of a heart condition.
I asked her why, at that point, she signed a billion-year contract and promised to work so hard for Scientology.
“They showed me a policy by Hubbard that said the world was coming to an end by 2000. So we had six years to ‘clear the planet’,” she says. “And I had no family at that point. My dad is an idiot, and he was in Florida. We didn’t know anything else. We were born into it. We didn’t have any friends outside Scientology. Those were ‘wogs'” she says, using the offensive British slang term for dark-skinned people that Hubbard appropriated for his jargon to mean any non-Scientologist. “We didn’t have anybody.” . . .
“I was in the Sea Org from 1994 to 1998. During that entire time, I was paid about 40 dollars. And I am not making that up,” she says. Until December 25, 1997, she was a minor during that entire period, working for no pay.
“We were fed beans and rice. And we got no sleep. When [church leader] David Miscavige, came over for an IAS event in 1998, I was assigned MEST work, and I went five days without sleep. We would catch some sleep on the bus from Walsh Manor to Saint Hill,” she says, referring to another run down estate where Sea Org members were housed, and the 18th century country house were Scientology in the UK is headquartered. In preparation for the event, she worked like mad. “I was building stuff. Building the stage. Putting up tents. Cleaning. Making stuff.”
For the rest of this shocking story go here:
What does her mother say about Scientology and what it did to her family?