French prosecutors are investigating a complaint filed by 12 employees of a building firm who say their employer forced them to take part in Scientology courses.
The case is only in its early stages and may never make it to court. But one of France’s top lawyers, Olivier Morice — a veteran of court battles with the movement — is representing the workers who filed the complaint.
Prosecutors in Versailles, near Paris, have opened a preliminary investigation into allegations of workplace harassment and abuse of weakness.
The company at the center of the controversy is Arcadia, based about 20 miles outside Paris. But as well as naming managing director Frederic Langlois, the complaint also targets Scientology’s Paris Celebrity Center, l’Association spirituelle de l’Eglise de scientologie.
ASES-CC was one of the two Paris-based Scientology organizations convicted of organied fraud back in 2009, a verdict confirmed last October in France’s highest court.
The trouble this time started when staff were sent to do training courses based on Scientology principles.
Lawyer Morice told the Underground Bunker that the company’s sales reps had been singled out for the training. “The sales team very quickly rebelled, making it clear they weren’t happy with the course,” he added.
Participants were obliged to sit opposite each other for two hours without moving, Morice said. In other exercises, they had to submit to being insulted (bullbaiting) or had to repeat phrases from Alice in Wonderland for long periods.
In other words, they took the “training routines” that make up some of the steps on Scientology’s “Bridge to Total Freedom.” More than one former member has said the training amounts to a covert system of indoctrination designed to make subjects more susceptible to being controlled.
20minutes, the newspaper that broke the story on Wednesday, was quick to pick up on this aspect of the story: To accompany their web version of the scoop, they posted this striking demonstration of the Training Routines (TRs) by former members Stacy Brooks and Jesse Prince…
One 27-year-old member of the sales team told the newspaper that she was unable to get through the bullbaiting sessions. In this exercise, subjects have to sit unflinching while being subjected to verbal abuse, before switching roles to become the abuser.
When she couldn’t manage the verbal abuse part of the exercise, one of the trainers took over — and to show how it should be done he demanded a blow job from one of her male colleagues, she told 20minutes.
Some of those filing the complaint were among more than 20 people fired by the company after it introduced Scientology principles to its training, Morice added. Others had left the company because of the Scientology management methods that were introduced, says the complaint.
Employees say there was no shortage of Scientology books and DVDs at the workplace and their boss Langlois never made any secret of his support for the movement. They say he had turned to the movement in the aftermath of the death of one his children.
Kristi Wachter’s database grouping the movement’s own publications shows that a Frederic Langlois made considerable investments in Scientology courses between 2009 and 2011 — including a stay on the Freewinds, cruise ship normally reserved for high rollers.
Langlois brought in Scientologists to help run the company, including Cyril Pincanon, who worked as a consultant there, said Morice.
Pincanon, who is also named in the complaint, told 20minutes that his consultancy there had been extremely successful. He denied that he had spread Scientology beliefs in the workplace but refused to discuss his methods.
Pincanon testified at the 2009 trial of Scientology for organised fraud as a character witness for one of the defendants (who was eventually convicted of fraud). He told the court how proud he was to be a Scientologist and how much it had done for him personally.
Underground Bunker veterans may also recall that earlier this year he was involved in a major land deal in central France, which fell through at the last moment after a local paper revealed the Scientology connection.
Olivier Morice is the lawyer who represented the counter-cult group UNADFI during the 2009 trial of Scientology — and at the 2011 appeal. A pugnacious lawyer, he will give as good as he gets should the case get to court.
This is only a preliminary investigation however, and prosecutors may yet decide that there is no case to answer. But it is one more headache that Scientology in France could have done without.
20minutes followed up on its scoop with an interview with company boss Frederic Langlois in Thursday’s edition.
Speaking to Vincent Vantighem, the journalist who broke the story, Langlois said he was surprised and saddened by the complaint filed against him. The first he had known about it was when he read his article, he added.
He confirmed he was a Scientologist, that he had introduced the movement’s management philosophy to his company, and that he had hired Scientologists to work for him.
He had also done the training routines at the heart of the complaint and found them very useful, he said. “But there has never been any question of putting that in place here,” he added.
He would not comment on the allegations concerning the more abusive aspects of the training, such as the bullbaiting, saying he needed time to study the complaint.
— Jonny Jacobsen
The Surviving Scientology Podcast with Mat Pesch, Part 2
Another great session with Jeffrey Augustine…
Scientology and sex abuse
Check out Mike Rinder’s blog today for a disturbing story about how Scientology kept an admitted child molester from being prosecuted. We know of several other cases of this inside the church. All too often, Scientology’s “internal justice” system is really a way of making sure no justice happens at all.
Posted by Tony Ortega on July 25, 2014 at 07:00
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