Church of Scientology rejects neglect claims

ABC News, Australia/May 19, 2010

The Australian Church of Scientology has hit back at claims by the daughter of its president that the organisation created a systematic neglect of children.

Scarlett Hanna told ABC1's Lateline that she and dozens of other children of elite church members were removed from their parents' care and forced to live in overcrowded conditions.

"The best way I can describe it is cattle. We were property of the organisation," she said.

But the church says parents and children who grew up with Ms Hanna have rejected her comments.

It says it has received several written statements from former members who say they led "rich and fulfilling" lives at the organisation.

Sarah McClintock, who says she grew up with Ms Hanna at Cadet Org, the name of the group set up for the children of Scientology's elite unit, the Sea Org, says she is suprised by the accusations.

"I had a very good experience at the CadetOrgs," she said.

"I had many friends and they're still my friends today - they're part of my extended family.

"We grew up in a very healthy environment. We had a lot of love and attention and we did fantastic things together.

"We went on very many outings and we definitely had a very happy childhood."

Ms Hanna is the only child of Vicki Dunstan, president of the Church of Scientology in Australia, and Mark Hanna, a former Asian/Pacific director of public affairs for the church.

She says she decided to speak out following the screening of a Four Corners story on Scientology on ABC1 earlier this year.

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