Scientologists Wanting to Leave Church Face Life-Changing Consequences

KESQ, Palm Springs/March 19, 2009

Since our News Channel 3 investigation into the Church of Scientology began, nearly a dozen former church members came forward to tell us their accounts of what happens inside the church's world headquarters in Hemet. Jeff Hawkins was the first. He is the church's former marketing director.

Hawkins explained the Scientology faithful, "It's a combination of fear and faith. Because anybody who is in Scientology is there because they believe. It's a very fundamentalist sort of cult. They believe the teachings of Scientology are the only way to spiritual salvation. So they feel they need to tow the line or they will not be saved spiritually."

But if things are so bad inside church headquarters, why don't people just leave?

"Technically, they can get up and they can leave and nobody can legally stop them, but you don't know that. And you are kept under watch by security people 24 hours a day. The entrances are all guarded. Nobody is allowed to leave," said Hawkins.

One 2005 police report obtained by News Channel 3 describes an incident in which a Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy responded to reports of people driving by Scientology headquarters witnessing several men fighting.

The deputy met Marc Headley who claimed he wanted to leave the church and claimed the guards prevented him. The guards claimed they were just concerned for Headley.

Headley was escorted to a nearby U-Haul center. One of the guards followed the deputy. The deputy warned the guard to back off.

Headley is now suing for years of back pay.

The Church of Scientology has its own intelligence department. It's part of the Sea Organization. It's called the Office of Special Affairs.

Documents show how they use the church's e-meters to question those suspected of wanting to leave the Hemet headquarters.

Hawkins continued, "I received what was called security checks, where they go on and on, 'What have you done? What have you done? What are your crimes? What are your crimes? And, I had this for weeks, 6 weeks, every day, 'What are your crimes? What are your crimes? What have you done? What have you done? They try to guilt you into backing off."

Hawkins finished by saying, "People ask me why did I stay so long? The fact of the matter is, in order to leave, I had to leave all my friends, I had to leave my wife, I had to leave my job, I had to leave my religion, I had to leave my entire life as I had known it for the past 30 years and go out into a world I had been told was hostile and dangerous because that's what they tell you inside. With no money, no job, no house, no friends, go to a strange city and just start my life anew at 58."

We continue our investigation into the war between Scientology and Anonymous next week. Keep coming to for more updates on when our next segment airs.

We have learned that KATU-TV story in Portland, Oregon will air their investigation next week as well.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.