We reached out to Jenna Miscavige Hill for a comment about the stunning news that showed up this weekend in the Tampa Bay Times about her aunt, Denise Gentile, who is the twin sister of Scientology’s leader, David Miscavige.
Joe Childs reported for the Times that Gentile was arrested in January for DUI and marijuana possession, and in his investigation of the arrest, he found that she and her husband Gerald had rented out run-down properties that were used by tenants for drug dealing. One tenant claimed that he paid Denise rent in the form of marijuana “blunts.”
Jenna, meanwhile, has been on a months-long publicity campaign to support her memoir, Beyond Belief, which was published in February. In it, the niece of David Miscavige and Denise Gentile describes the difficulties of her upbringing in the church. She portrays her uncle as a cowardly bully, but Denise Gentile gets a more sympathetic treatment. How, we asked Jenna, does she feel about this weekend’s news?
She sent us the following statement…
My perspective is that it is sad. I am sad for whatever massive conflict and sorrow would drive her to this (and there is much of it in her life), and I am sad that if it is true, it sounds like she needs help.
Obviously, someone who is a super Kool-Aid drinker wouldn’t be doing many of the things Denise has done. So to that degree, I applaud a part of her for acting human despite her upbringing and surroundings in Scientology — whether it was the kind way she treated the children of her tenants, or, sadly, the way she allegedly accepted drugs for rent money. Hopefully, it’s a sign that she isn’t as brainwashed as many other Scientologists.
Despite her many shortcomings and mistakes, I think Denise is a good person. She doesn’t go around trying to hurt people. She has done some very selfish and misguided things that happen to hurt others, but that is very different than seeking out ways to ruin thousands of people’s lives and doing it as an everyday course of business, which describes her brother. Denise isn’t the leader of Scientology. He is.
When I was 12 to 16 in the Sea Org at Flag and didn’t see my parents for nearly four years, when libs [free days] were allowed, Denise picked me up every other week. She brought me to her home, treated me like my being there brightened her whole life, she fed me, loved me and she bought me underwear and socks, she confided in me, and she was a wonderful aunt to me. Even later on when I was 16 and I wanted to get my navel pierced (a big “no no” as a Sea Org member), she took me, knowing that it was part of being a teenager. She knew she would get in trouble for it and she didn’t care.
If there is one person I could confide in about my doubts and fears and would keep my secrets, it was Denise. If there is one person who I miss more than anybody, it is Denise.
There were at least three different kids I met during that time who Denise had taken in at different times because they were having some sort of family difficulty or their parents were away and she treated them like her own kids.
Denise is a mother of four. Her second youngest, who is a few years younger than I am, is in the Sea Org — or at least was. If Denise left Scientology, it would likely mean never speaking to her again.
With everything she has been through, both imposed by the Church and self-imposed (and self-imposed things don’t hurt any less) this latest development doesn’t surprise me. But it makes me sad that she is going through it. She has a very complicated life. Even beyond this latest scandal. I sincerely hope that it drives her away from Scientology and not closer to it.
I understand that people are cheering about this because in a way this does expose the leader of Scientology as hypocritical at the very least. To me it is just another sad example of Scientology ruining someone’s life.
Thanks very much for that perspective, Jenna.
We also heard from Claire Headley, who worked closely with David Miscavige at Scientology’s International Base in California, where she was a member of the Sea Organization and an employee of the Religious Technology Center (RTC), Scientology’s controlling entity. She offered these words…
I first heard of Denise in the late 1990s, after I’d been in RTC a couple of years. Prior to that, I had no idea David Miscavige had a twin sister. It was definitely not common knowledge at the headquarters. The way Miscavige talked about her was always as if she were a non-human, like an irritation that he wished did not exist. I heard him talk about her several times between the late 90s and until I left in 2005. None of these mentions were favorable. He talked about how Denise and Sam [Licciardi, her second husband] had left the Sea Org years ago and were “out-ethics.” Several times he made reference to the fact he was trying to get her to leave Florida and move away from their mother. That she was a bad influence. And most often, he referred to her as a “f**king c**t.” I knew he did not want anyone to know she was his sister, especially not the high rollers at Flag.
Most of the former church members we have consulted tell us they expect Scientology’s current followers will either not hear the news about Gentile’s arrest or will dismiss it as propaganda.
Posted by Tony Ortega on July 1, 2013 at 07:00
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