On Sunday February 17, a man named Damian Kevitt, 36, was nearly killed in a gruesome hit-and-run incident that left him with what one doctor called the worst non-fatal injuries he’s ever seen.
Kevitt was riding a bicycle near LA’s Griffith Park when a person driving a van hit him, then dragged him onto the middle of a freeway. Conscientious drivers stopped to protect Damian from getting run over by other cars, but his injuries were terrible: he’s already lost one leg and may lose another. Both of his arms are broken, a shoulder needs replacing, and he was so scraped up, an infection might come at any time that could kill him.
And without health insurance, the costs for his care are going into the millions, his uncle tells us. His uncle also confirmed for us that his nephew is the Damian Kevitt who is listed as a Scientology Sea Org worker in a 2005 document online. We have asked the church for a comment, but we don’t expect a reply. So we’re asking our correspondents to help us find out: Was Damian Kevitt still a Sea Org worker when he was injured, and is that why he has no health insurance when he needs it most?
We spoke yesterday with Dane Evans, Damian’s uncle, who says his nephew is conscious and has even showed a sense of humor about his condition. But his situation is dire. Evans says Kevitt has already had four surgeries and doctors expect that he will face more than a dozen more.
“If he gets an infection, it could kill him,” Evans says.
We told Evans that the name “Damian Kevitt” shows up on a 2005 list of Sea Org workers who were employed at ASHO, the American Saint Hill Organization — part of the “Big Blue” complex on Fountain Avenue that is Scientology’s headquarters in Los Angeles.
Evans confirmed that his nephew did work for the Church of Scientology, but he didn’t know if that was still the case.
“I don’t know if he’s still working for them or not,” Evans says.
We then heard from Lisa Hamilton, a former Sea Org senior official. She tells us that Damian Kevitt was still in the Sea Org when she left the church in 2008
2010, and that he had been in the Sea Org for at least 15 years.
The Sea Organization has been the focus of many of the controversies dogging Scientology in recent years. The church recruits young people — some as young as 6 years old — to join the Sea Org and sign billion-year contracts, and they promise to come back lifetime after lifetime as Scientology’s most fanatical believers.
Sea Org workers put in amazing hours, with 100-hour weeks standard. They grab only a few hours of sleep a night, and get paid only about 40 cents an hour. They live communally, in dormitories, and almost never get any time off. Sea Org workers can go years without seeing their non-Sea Org family members, even if those family members are Scientologists.
Former Sea Org members tell stories not only of long hours, poor food, and zero privacy, but also of harsh punishments and prison details for those considered disobedient. Sea Org members who marry are prohibited from having children, and numerous women who have left the Sea Org say they were forced to have abortions when they became pregnant. They also say they would be compelled to go to free clinics to have the abortions, claiming to be indigent. In the Sea Org, they say, there is no health insurance.
We talked to Marc Headley, a former Sea Org worker who, with his wife Claire, escaped from their jobs at the International Base east of Los Angeles in 2005. We asked Marc if Sea Org workers, despite their incredible dedication, get health insurance from Scientology.
“No. No way,” he says. When Marc was injured at one point, the church filed a worker’s compensation claim, he says. They did the same when his wife Claire broke her leg.
“She had a motorcycle accident and broke her tibia and fibula and nearly lost her foot. The security workers at the base crammed her into a Honda Civic and took her to the hospital. The emergency workers were livid that they brought her like that.”
Headley says that there are numerous cases of Sea Org workers simply being dumped by the church when they could no longer keep up with the 100-hour weeks at their jobs.
“If you mess up, they drop you completely. Got hit by a car? See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya. That’s the Sea Org overriding policy,” he says.
Several former Sea Org executives pointed out to us that the only time Sea Org workers can get a little time to themselves is a few hours on Sunday mornings.
Damian Kevitt was run over while on his bicycle at about 11:35 on a Sunday morning. And he was reportedly riding with his wife Grace, who fortunately was not involved in the incident.
We’re checking with our sources inside the church who may be able to tell us if Damian was still on staff at ASHO or at some other Sea Org post when he was injured.
We’ve also sent a message to Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw, asking her if the church plans to have any involvement in Kevitt’s recovery or in helping defray his costs. We’ll let you know if she gets back to us.
UPDATE: Some Scientologists have started an online fund for Damian at a website which features a photograph showing him in his Sea Org uniform; the photo looks contemporary. So far, his fellow church members have raised $520.00. (Since we wrote that, the photo has been changed to one that doesn’t show Damian’s Sea Org outfit. However, he’s still standing in front of Big Blue, the Scientology complex, in the new photo.)
2nd UPDATE: We’ve now heard from two independent sources inside the Church of Scientology who tell us that Damian Kevitt was still a Sea Org worker when he was injured on February 17. An online posting shows that he signed the SO contract at 18, which means he’s been in the Sea Org for 18 years.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN’S HUSBAND FIGHTING CANCER THE NON-SCIENTOLOGY WAY
As Van Susteren revealed yesterday, Coale was diagnosed in December, and since then has undergone multiple surgeries as well as radiation treatment. She’s been at his bedside every day, and she says his cancer is curable.
We wish Mr. Coale the best, and we feel for Van Susteren as they go through this ordeal.
It’s interesting, however, to note that these two high-level Scientologists are apparently not trying to “handle” this illness by relying only on auditing and assists.
Van Susteren is a loyal church member, but it’s been pointed out that her own sister is a major part of the “evil psych” community that Scientology loathes. Coale, meanwhile, is a political power player, and at one time was trying to create FLAGG PAC, a political action committee that would raise funds to help Scientology lobby Washington. More recently, he was advising Sarah Palin on her political career.
Coale has reportedly topped out at OT VIII, meaning that he’s reached the highest level of Scientology spiritual enlightenment, and he should have the ability to manipulate matter and energy solely with the power of his mind. Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard also claimed that “Operating Thetans” would be impervious to disease. But as we see time and again, these promised abilities turn out to be as real as you would expect them to be. At least, in this case, Van Susteren and Coale have enough sense to rely on more tangible strategies to fight disease.
For other Scientologists, that isn’t always the case.
Posted by Tony Ortega on March 1, 2013 at 14:00