Lawsuit claims Church of Scientology violated child labor and wage laws

A runaway from the Church of Scientology‘s restrictive religious order, the Sea Org, alleges in two lawsuits filed Friday that the church violated California laws regulating child labor, wages and school attendance.

The St. Petersburg Times reports:

Daniel Montalvo, who turns 20 today, also contends his parents, who remain in the Sea Org, neglected him and breached their duty to protect him from harm by ceding his care to the church. […]

According to one of the two lawsuits, Montalvo’s parents “effectively abandoned” him, and his caretakers in the church failed to adequately educate him or provide sufficient care, including medical treatment.

“Intentionally deprived of the basic skills needed to permit him to become a functioning adult member of society, Daniel now comes before the court a 19-year-old man with an eighth grade education, without assets, without a resume despite having labored for hundreds of hours per week over the last five years,” the lawsuit states.

The newspaper, which has been exposing the Scientology cult in an on-going series of investigative reports, details claims made in Montalvo’s lawsuits.

True to form, Tommy Davis — the cult’s caustic spokesperson — pooh-poohs the the claims and accuses Montalvo of stealing computer hard drives and, helped by other defectors, moving them across state lines. The paper explains the story behind this claim.

The newspaper also points out the two other Scientology defectors, Claire and Marc Headley, recently saw their lawsuit against the church dismissed by a federal judge.

Like Montalvo, the Headleys also contended they were victims of forced labor.

In dismissing the case the judge cited in part a “ministerial exception” that generally prevents courts from prying into the affairs of any church.

But Montalvo’s case differs in that it invokes laws protecting children, said his lawyer, S. Christopher “Kit” Winter. […]

[W]inter argued that Montalvo would not be considered a church minister because he never conducted Scientology’s core religious practice of “auditing” and had little formal religious training in the church.

Even if he were to be deemed a minister, that “does not excuse you from having to attend school,” Winter said. “There is nothing in the case law that says the ministerial exception overrides child labor laws and compulsory school attendance laws.”

The St. Petersburg Times says the Headleys are appealing their case, and points out:

Their allegations and those of Montalvo echo the claims of former church members who recently disclosed that they have been interviewed at length by FBI agents specializing in human trafficking.

Australian TV report (2008) on the topic of child labor in Scientology:

PDFs of the lawsuits at Marty Rathbun’s blog

Ex Scientology Kids, a website operated by three young women who grew up in Scientology and later left the Church.

Scientology: No Kids Allowed

Sea Org Children: The Final Solution

Escape – Helping Families Under Scientology Stress

Research resources on Scientology

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday March 5, 2011.
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