Is Scientology breaking the law?

Allegations of illegal imprisonment by Scientology

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Affidavit of Hana Eltringham-Whitfield

August 8, 1989


I was in Scientology for 19 years from March 1965 to August 1984. The majority of those years, particularly the last 10 were filled with great emotional, mental and physical trauma. This experience was the most humiliating and degrading one I've ever experienced. I still suffer from frequent nightmares, emotional distress and severe headaches because of it.

... crew were brutally punished for errors and mistakes. One such example had to do with 2nd Engineer, Terry Dickensen, a tall and kindly Australian. Terry had failed to install a Sharpes ship- to-shore radio on the AVON RIVER bridge according to Hubbard's schedule, and the Ethics edict Hubbard issued as a result horrified me to the core. It stated that Terry could not eat with the crew until the Sharpes had been obtained from New York and installed on the AVON RIVER bridge. Further, Terry was denied any sleep until the Sharpes was installed, no matter how long it took. If he did sleep, the penalty of not eating with the crew would become permanent. Furthermore, he would have to sleep on deck for all time without pillow or blankets. I was the Officer in cllarge of crew ethics and morals at the time and was expected to enforce the ethics order. It took five long, very long days and nights before the Sharpes arrived from New York and was installed. During that entire time, Terry and I did not sleep. I didn't sleep to be certain that Terry didn't. Terry never recovered from the experience and left the Sea Organization shortly thereafter, a broken man.

The RPF was represented as a place, a group, where those assigned to it could rehabilitate themselves using Hubbard's techniques. In actuality, it was a type of slave labor camp whose members lived, ate and worked in squalid, degrading conditions and who were utterly forbidden to talk to anyone but their own kind. They were completely segregated from normal crew. One evening I saw its members on the aft deck. They were eating with their hands out of buckets containing leftover food - they were standing around a large pot of leftovers shoveling them into their mouths with their hands as if they were starving. I developed a very real horror of the RPF and what it represented and a slowly growing fear of Hubbard and the organization from that point onward.

Then in 1978, I was assigned to the Rehabilitation Project Force at the Fort Harrison, the Sea Organization's slave labor camp. I was assigned to it because I had evil thoughts about Hubbard and the Sea Organization. I was utterly shocked and devastated. I was escorted to the RPF location between two heavy men, both well over 6' tall. I was locked up for about 24 hours in a room with no windows. I was under continual guard during that time and slept on a mattress on the floor without sheets or blanket. I was shocked and awake the entire night sometimes weeping and other times completely numb, devoid of all feeling or thought. I had a crazed urge to escape but knew I could not, that I had to finally confront myself and discover how evil and truly bad I was. I felt I was split into several people - one of them a kind, loving person who was in deep shock, the other a cold, calculating, evil- minded person who was intent on harming others for the fun of it, and yet another person who was terribly confused and did not know which of the other two was correctly me. I felt my mind was being ripped apart, that I could not think or feel anything. I forced myself blindly through the routine of having' to run continually (RPF members were not allowed to walk at any time), of having to talk to non-RPF staff only when spoken to, of having to address everyone as "Sir", of having to do menial work of cleaning toilets, of having to wear old, torn and tattered blue overalls, of having to be seen running in the Florida heat, perspiring and without makeup or hairdo, doing menial and embarrassing work in front of all the public - in pain all the time.

I requested to go in front of a Review Board. The Board was disinclined to see me personally. It found my assignment correct and ordered I remain in the RPF.

RPF members at that time were completely segregated from "normal" staff and slept, lived and often ate in the Fort Harrison garage in the midst of continual exhaust fumes. They were not allowed to talk to, mix with or eat with "normal" staff. They wore old, tattered, ripped up navy jump suits or boiler suits and looked like derelicts from skid row. Women were not allowed to use any makeup or have any hairdos. No jewelry was allowed. Even in the incredible hot and humid Florida summers, women were not allowed to wear short cut-offs but had to wear longer shorts or skirts or long trousers. No clothing lighter than the heavy material the jump suits were made from could be worn intitially.

RPF members had to run all the time. They were not allowed to walk. They had to run while doing their cleaning assignments in bathrooms and toilets, while doing the garbage details or while going up and down the 12 flights of stairs in the Fort Harrison building carrying buckets, brooms and heavy cleaning equipment, and sometimes buckets full of heavy construction material. RPF members were not allowed to use the elevators, not even the service elevator.

To prevent zoning, health and other city inspectors from seeing the RPF conditions as they really existed, all RPFers were practiced and skilled in transforming their normal RPF sleeping areas into what looked like a regular furniture storage space, and doing so in a very short period of time. I often wished that someone from the city would spring a surprise visit on the Fort Harrison kitchen or garage or nursery but it never occurred.

This is how we really lived in the RPF. Some of us slept on thin mattresses on the bare cement floor. Some had crude bunk beds. There was no place for clothes, so we lived out of suitcases and bags which were kept on the bare floors. Some privacy was maintained by hanging sheets up between bunk beds and between floor mattresses. The women and men had separate bathrooms and toilets but they were small. We were not allowed to shower longer than 30 seconds. We had time only to run through the shower and out the other end. There was no spare time for talk or relaxation. We awoke at 6:30 A.M. or earlier at times, did hard labor and heavy construction work and cleaning until late afternoon. After a quick shower and change of clothing, we had to audit each other and "rehabilitate" ourselves until 10:30 P.M. or later each evening'. There were no days off, no vacations. We worked seven days a week, four weeks a month. We ate our meals in the garage or at times in the dining rooms AFTER normal meals had ended. Our food consisted of leftovers from staff. On occasions which seemed like Christmas, we were able to prepare ourselves fresh meals if leftovers were insufficient.

The RPF maintained a very strict reform code which tolerated no insubordination or resistance of any kind whatsoever. Any instance of such was dealt with by immediate push ups or running up and down the garage inumerable times. The slightest infraction earned hard and harsh penalties. Every rule had to be followed regardless of its correctness or applicability at any given point in time.

Certain infractions caused the person responsible to be assigned to the RPF's RPF, a place in the lower boiler room under the Fort Harrison Hotel, among the boilers and hot water pipes which rumbled and hissed twenty-four tlours a day. The place was only dimly lit. It consisted of interconnecting- spaces through which one had to crawl on hands and knees at times past or underneath huge pipes and massive 10 foot high boilers. It was a dark, forbidding, somewhat scary place. One of my buddies was assigned to the RPF's RPF for two months for refusing to divulge confidential information for which she had been bonded in the Guardian's Office. She was kept in that space excommunicado for the entire time, with limited bathing and toilet privileges, all the time being threatened and verbally harassed by RPF superiors. She finally emerged a broken, silent, sullen person who soon after managed to escape from the RPF and the Fort Harrison Hotel. Her name was Lynn Froyland.

I have never seen her since she left.

The RPF had been established for the stated purpose of "rehabilitation and redemption". It was made to appear as a constructive and positive activity, devised to help the individual at a time when he was unable to help himself. However, it was Hubbard's belief and practice that force, duress and punishment were necessary and vital to cut through human emotion and reaction so as to rescue the soul or thetan. I believed Hubbard. But I was experiencing such humiliation, such degradation and worthlessness in the RPF that Hubbard's theories began to make less sense to me. I entered into a profound confusion and a deep emotional and mental instability which continued onward almost continually up to the time I left.

To compound the situation, Hubbard states categorically that criticism is a sign that one has committed a harmful or destructive action on the person or area one is critical of. This belief has high credence in Scientology and is rigidly adhered to. It is common for staff and public to receive extensive confessional auditing and security checking if they are found to have the slightest criticism of Hubbard. I now know that this practice is a very effective thoughtstopping technique and that it is solely aimed at reforming the individual's thought patterns and his conduct and was never intended for his enlightenment. I had no knowledge of this at the time I was in the RPF, and had I been told it at the time, I would have vehemently denied it as would all Scientologists.

Throughout my period in the RPF, I felt more and more degraded and worthless the more I tried to reconcile the slavery of the RPF and its blatantly anti-social activities to Scientology being the only road to total freedom. I laboured hard during many auditing sessions to find the harmful actions I had committed to cause me to become so full of pain and negative emotion.

Toward the end of 1978, I finally escaped. I left the RPF without approval and flew to New York to friends. But within a week the senior Ethics person at Flag, Tom Provenzano, located me and by phone threatened me with a Suppressive Person declare and with being sued, followed and never being left in peace again for the rest of my life if I did not immediately return to Clearwater. I broke down completely. I flew back to Clearwater and to the RPF, but only after Provenzano had promised me I could speak with him about my assignment to the RPF when I returned. Of course, no such thing occurred. I had no idea that his "promise" was made solely to get me back to Clearwater. Once back in the RPF I succumbed. I returned to working and running and sweating and pain.

I finally left at the end of March 1982, after three harrowing months of security checking, being screamed at, being threatened, being asked angrily and threateningly over and over again while hooked up to Scientology's lie detector, whether I was in contact with the FBI, the CIA, the US Government, the Mafia, the Secret Sercie, the AMA, the FDA, the AFF, or with hundreds of named Scientology dissidents. I was accused of being in their pay. I was threateningly asked whether any of them were paying me. I was angrily accused of being in phone communication with them. None of it was true. I painstakingly wrote down every misdeed I could ever remember committing and worked long hours late in the night, night after night for a week, "to make up the dreadful damage I had caused". I started making up, imagining greater and worse misdeeds in my written admissions to try to reach the "evil" in me again. Not even that worked.

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