Tonja Burden

When Tonja Burden was 13, she joined the Sea Org. A few months later, her parents left Scientology. Tonja was told to disconnect from them - she was no longer permitted to contact her parents. She was forced to remain in the Sea Org until she was 18, when she escaped. She later sued Scientology for kidnapping her.

More about Tonja Burden

Tonja Burden Affidavit

January 25, 1980: Tonja Burden signs an affidavit describing her experiences in Scientology: At the age of 13, she signed a billion-year contract to join the Sea Org. She lived apart from her parents. She went to live on the Apollo. "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.' ... Aboard the ship, I received a Telex from Peter Albert, who was the Continental Justice Chief, FOLO. The Telex informed me my father had been declared an SP (Suppressive Person). They said he was a 'plant,' a spy within Scientology. I began crying and asked to leave, telling them I could convince my father to return to Scientology. Dede Riesdorf, the 'Super Cargo' of our 'org', would not permit me to leave. I explained I wanted to leave and reunite with my mom and dad, but she would not permit this. She told me to 'disconnect' from my parents because my parents were SP's. Disconnection meant no more communication with my parents. ... 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. I saw one boy held in there for 30 nights, crying and begging to be released. He was only allowed out to clean the bilges where the sewer and refuse of the ship collected. ... At Fort Harrison, security guards were stationed outside to prevent people from 'blowing'. To 'blow' meant to leave Scientology. People were not allowed to just leave Scientology. Approximately 30 to 40 people tried to escape. These people were caught and placed in the RPF (Rehabilitation Project Force). The RPF was a Scientology 'concentration camp', where people who were 'security threats' were kept under guard. The RPF at Fort Harrison was in a storage area. ... In August 1977 I refused to perform a certain order and was sent to the galley, where I performed menial labor until I emotionally broke apart and was sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) on the direct orders of 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 ... "

Tonja Burden in the News

Date Title Blurb Tags
October 25, 1988 Paper Wants Scientology Documents Unsealed The St. Petersburg Times has asked a federal judge to unseal four court files pertaining to the Church of Scientology. The files, which otherwise would be available to the public, were sealed in 1986 by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich at the Scientologists' request. The suits alleged that Scientologists invaded the plaintiffs' privacy and abused the courts by filing malicious actions. Tanja C. Burden of Las Vegas said Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, his wife, Mary Sue, and the Clearwater church enslaved her for more than four years. The sealing of the files put all record of the cases and any subsequent developments out of public view. Clearwater, Gabe Cazares, lawsuits, Press, Scientology and Society, Tonja Burden

Tonja Burden in the News

Date Title Blurb Tags
January 31, 1984 Scientology Attorney Paul Johnson Files Motions in Tonya Burden Case Scientology attorney Paul Johnson files motions in response to statements made by Tonya Burden's attorney Michael Flynn. Flynn and a former high-ranking church member contended in sworn statements that the church tried in 1982 to compromise U.S. District Judge Ben Krentzman, who was then hearing the Burden case. According to the statements, private investigators for the church wanted to lure Krenztman onto an 81-foot yacht, then offer him prostitutes and drugs while secretly recording and filming the events. The alleged plot was never carried out, Flynn said. Krentzman said he was never aware of any such plan. In Johnson's response, he includes affidavits from private detectives Richard Bast and Robert Keefer, who both denied attempts to "set up" the judge. In his affidavit, Bast said he personally supervised an investigation "designed to establish contact with local realty, banking and business interests ... for the purpose of gaining information concerning any possible conspiracy against the church ..." He said his investigators developed a cover story that they represented "wealthy foreign investors interested in real estate in Florida." "In preparing for the investigation, Judge Krentzman's name as well as the names of other public figures, were mentioned. I was specifically instructed with respect to Judge Krentzman that there was to be no effort made to make contact with him, and that instruction was followed." Tonja Burden
April 25, 1980 Michael Flynn Files Tonja Burden V. Cos California, Civ. #80-401 Civ. Tk (Federal Middle District Of Florida). Michael Flynn Is Michael Flynn files Tonja Burden v. CoS California, Civ. #80-401 Civ. Tk (Federal Middle District of Florida). Michael Flynn is Burden's attorney; suing for $3 million. Tonja Burden
January 25, 1980 Tonja Burden Affidavit Tonja Burden signs an affidavit describing her experiences in Scientology: At the age of 13, she signed a billion-year contract to join the Sea Org. She lived apart from her parents. She went to live on the Apollo. "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.' ... Aboard the ship, I received a Telex from Peter Albert, who was the Continental Justice Chief, FOLO. The Telex informed me my father had been declared an SP (Suppressive Person). They said he was a 'plant,' a spy within Scientology. I began crying and asked to leave, telling them I could convince my father to return to Scientology. Dede Riesdorf, the 'Super Cargo' of our 'org', would not permit me to leave. I explained I wanted to leave and reunite with my mom and dad, but she would not permit this. She told me to 'disconnect' from my parents because my parents were SP's. Disconnection meant no more communication with my parents. ... 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. I saw one boy held in there for 30 nights, crying and begging to be released. He was only allowed out to clean the bilges where the sewer and refuse of the ship collected. ... At Fort Harrison, security guards were stationed outside to prevent people from 'blowing'. To 'blow' meant to leave Scientology. People were not allowed to just leave Scientology. Approximately 30 to 40 people tried to escape. These people were caught and placed in the RPF (Rehabilitation Project Force). The RPF was a Scientology 'concentration camp', where people who were 'security threats' were kept under guard. The RPF at Fort Harrison was in a storage area. ... In August 1977 I refused to perform a certain order and was sent to the galley, where I performed menial labor until I emotionally broke apart and was sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) on the direct orders of 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 ... " Tonja Burden