Former league star slams 'violent' Scientology

The Australian/September 23, 2011

A former rugby league star has attacked the head of the church of Scientology, David Miscavige, describing him as a "violent man" who sent him to a re-education camp for 2 1/2-years where he was paid as little as $2 a week and stripped of his passport.

Chris Guider was a former hooker for the St George rugby league team, but left the sport at 24 after being encouraged to devote more time to the church.

After spending 2 1/2-years working full-time for the church in Sydney, Mr Guider travelled to the US, where he worked closely with Mr Miscavige.

The former player told the ABC's Lateline yesterday he saw Mr Miscavige beat a former staff member, Mark Fisher, who worked at the Religious Technology Center.

"He's a violent individual," said Mr Guider.

"He is. And there are accounts of him being physical with people. I've seen him physically beat one staff member, Mark Fisher, who was formerly an executive in the RTC."

The church has denied the accusation, and sent Lateline two sworn declarations from church members claiming Mr Miscavige did not hit Mr Fisher.

This is despite evidence from Mr Fisher to the St Petersburg Times that he was beaten by Mr Miscavige and statements from at least four other former members of the church.

Mr Guider said he was later sent to a re-education camp, called Rehabilitation Project Force, in Dundas in suburban Sydney, after refusing to carry out a direct command from Mr Miscavige to beat a fellow church member with a riding crop-like implement.

Mr Guider said the church had stripped him of his passport and credit card and paid him as little as $2 a week.

He has made a complaint to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

"It's like prison, except it's worse. You don't have television, you don't have visitor rights, you can't read the newspaper you can't read books, you can't listen to music," he said.

In the camp, he met his current wife, Valeska, and the pair have since left the church and had a baby boy. "I found out that the leader of the church, David Miscavige, is basically a very toxic person," Mr Guider said.

"It's not about people's lives and helping other people and being a beneficial program for other people.

"It's about control and getting money, and I disagree with that."

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