BRENDAN TREMBATH: A former member of The Church of Scientology has accused the organisation of attempting to cover up a case of child sexual abuse.
The ex member who says she was abused as a child has told the ABC’s Lateline program that she was coached to lie to police and community services about what had happened.
The claim comes after allegations that the Church of Scientology routinely separated some children from their parents.
The Church has denied the allegations.
Timothy McDonald reports.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Carmen Rainer says she was sexually abused by her stepfather Robert Kerr over several years when she was a child.
Her mother Phoebe didn’t want to seek outside help, and instead took Carmen to see their chaplain within the church.
CARMEN RAINER: They told me that it was my fault because I’d been bad in a past life. I’d probably done something bad in a past life so I pulled it in.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Carmen Rainer says she was told to hide her story by a senior church member.
Jan Eastgate was at the time the head of the Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights in Australia, an organisation founded by the church that campaigns against psychiatry. She now heads up the commission globally and is based in Los Angeles.
Carmen Rainer alleges Jan Eastgate told her to keep her mouth shut about the abuse.
CARMEN RAINER: Just say no, she kept repeating that – you remember that you can’t tell them – don’t say yes because otherwise you will be taken away from your parents and you’ll never see your family again.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Her mother Phoebe says she was given similar instructions.
PHOEBE RAINER: She basically told me what to say and Carmen what to say and she also told Carmen to lie to the police and I lied to the police as well because of that.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Former scientologist Carmel Underwood says she witnessed Jan Eastgate in the act.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Amy Scobee is a former Scientologist from the US who has written extensively about her own experiences within the church – and she says Carmen Rainer’s story rings true.
She says she was raped, and claims the church covered up her case as well.
She’s backed calls by independent Senator Nick Xenophon for a judicial inquiry into the church.
AMY SCOBEE: It would set a precedent on the fact that the senate there is standing up and saying, it is not OK to allow an organisation under the banner of religion or quote unquote church to commit crimes and to violate human rights.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: In a statement the Church of Scientology labelled Carmen Rainer’s claims untrue and defamatory.
Police are now investigating claims Jan Eastgate, who was in charge of a church-founded organisation at the time, told both mother and daughter to lie to police and community services about the abuse.
Ms Rainer also says the church told her the abuse, at the hands of her then-stepfather Robert Kerr, was her own fault.
“They told me it was my fault because I’d been bad in a past life – I’d probably done something bad in a past life so I pulled it in,” she said.
“I believed them. As a child I believed them. I was 11. That’s what I knew. I grew up believing what they believed.”
At the time, Ms Eastgate was head of the Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) in Australia – an organisation founded by the Church of Scientology that campaigns against psychiatry.
She is now the international head of the CCHR, which is based in Los Angeles.
Ms Eastgate is accused of interfering with a police investigation by coaching Ms Rainer on what to tell police and community services.
Ms Rainer says it was indoctrination that led her to agree to protect the Church of Scientology instead of her daughter – an act that has lead to a strained relationship.
“It would be hard for an outsider to understand why it would be done, but you are so totally brainwashed by their beliefs and then you get told that if you go this particular way you will lose everything, you will lose your future,” she said.
Carmen Rainer has now made a statement to police outlining the allegations against Ms Eastgate and police are investigating the matter.
The Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is a Scientology font group that, much like the Church of Scientology itself, acts like a hate group.
As Scientology critic Martin Poulter points out, ”It is absolutely remarkable that an organisation which stands accused of so many human rights violations itself should spawn a pressure group with this name.”