Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Scientology scare tactics used against woman who reported its quack therapy for kids

On August 16, Debra Maxwell filed a complaint using an online form to Florida’s Department of Children and Families about Scientology quack therapies being used on children.

In her online report, she told DCF that at a facility in Clearwater, the Mace-Kingsley Family Center, kids were being subjected to Scientology’s “Purification Rundown,” a dubious regimen of extended sauna exposure and increasingly high levels of vitamins that even adults who went through the procedure have told us was grueling and risky.

Mace-Kingsley has long been a notorious name in Scientology history. Founded by Scientologists Debbie Mace and Carol Kingsley in 1987, Mace-Kingsley started out as a ranch school in Palmdale, California that was later moved to New Mexico. Leah Remini, in her second season of Scientology and the Aftermath, highlighted accusations of abuse of Scientology children at the ranch schools in both states, interviewing former students Nathan Rich and Tara Reile. The episode recounted how the ranch schools were well known for disturbing accusations of abuse and neglect.

Today, Mace-Kingsley is no longer a school, but a drop-in center where Scientologists in Clearwater are encouraged to bring their children for Scientology services — even as infants. Mace-Kingsley’s own promotional materials include references to young children going through the Purification Rundown sauna treatment.



[Photo of kids undergoing the Purif posted by Mace-Kingsley on Facebook]

[Mace-Kingsley encourages Scientologists to begin “auditing” as infants]

Maxwell, a nurse, assures us that her complaint to the state was simple, and focused only on the medical unsoundness of the sauna regimen.

She says she later called the DCF, hoping to get some update on what had happened with her complaint. “They never called me back. I guess everything is confidential,” she says.

But then, this week, she received a pretty stunning “cease and desist” letter from attorney Steven Hayes on behalf of the Mace-Kingsley center.

Hayes is a longtime Scientologist who has a long and illustrious career working for Scientology and Scientologists, including the Cult Awareness Network gambit and the Raul Lopez shenanigans.

“I don’t know how they got my name. I called DCF and they said they would not give out any information about a complaint,” Maxwell says.

The letter from Hayes accuses Maxwell of making two separate complaints to DCF, and accusing Mace-Kingsley not only of medical quackery, but also of the kinds of abuses that Leah Remini described that took place at the New Mexico ranch, such as “scrubbing with wire brushes.”

She assures us that her complaint to the state had nothing to do with what was done on the ranch schools.

“He called it hate. It’s not. I’m a nurse. I’m concerned about the children,” Maxwell says.

The letter threatened that by merely reporting Mace-Kingsley to the state for doing what, after all, Mace-Kingsley itself advertises (the Purif), she was liable to a civil lawsuit, criminal prosecution, and even hate crimes enhancement.

“They also sent the letter to my boss, and they sent it to the state board of nursing,” she says.

But Maxwell isn’t flinching at Mace-Kingsley’s attempt at intimidation. She says she’s filed a complaint about Hayes to the Florida Bar, and she doesn’t plan to “cease and desist” what she’s been doing, which is to make occasional trips outside Scientology’s Clearwater facilities to offer help or escape to its employees.


“We bring the truth about the abuses. We’re not protesters, we’re there offering help. We care about them. It’s not hate,” she says.

And the letter isn’t going to stop her?

“You kidding me? This is entertaining to me. It’s stupid.”

Here’s the letter, in text, and then in pdf…

Steven L. Hayes, PA

Office Address:
2600 East Bay Drive, Ste 230
Largo, FL 33771
Tel: 727-238-5754

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 4929
Clearwater, FL 33758
Fax: 727-478-3143

Debra Maxwell
[Address redacted]

Dear Ms. Maxwell:

I represent the Mace-Kingsley Family Center in Clearwater, Florida (“Mace-Kingsley”). My investigation has concluded that you filed unfounded and untrue complaints against my client. Those actions constitute a violation of the law and make you liable for punitive civil damages.


There have been two investigations of Mace-Kingsley by the Florida Department of Children and Families (“DCF”).

The first complaint to the DCF was filed on August 15, 2017 at 4:34 P.M. It contained a number of false allegations, including that Mace-Kingsley is abusing children both physically and psychologically, that children are being forced into saunas and are not monitored while in the sauna. The complaint insisted that Mace-Kingsley be shut down.

This complaint was investigated by the DCF. It found no evidence substantiating any of the allegations. The DCF closed their investigation on August 18, 2017 with no enforcement action, citation or other action by the DCF.

The second complaint to the DCF was filed on October 20, 2017. It too contained a number of blatantly false allegations, even more egregious than the previous complaint, including: that children were locked in rooms, locked up in isolated areas, forced to do child labor, scrubbing with wire brushes, digging ditches and chopping wood, as well as that children were being beaten.

This complaint was also investigated by the DCF and again it found no evidence to substantiate the complaint. The DCF closed their investigation on November 17, 2017 with no enforcement action, citation or other action by the DCF.

Based on social media postings, of which I have copies, you filed or participated in filing the complaints. Your participation was without any supporting information and constitutes slander per se of my client. Mace Kingsley records show that you have never been inside this center and there is no evidence you have ever spoken to any child or parent who was or is at Mace Kingsley.


Under Florida Statute 39.205(9): “A person who knowingly and willfully makes a false report of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect, or who advises another to make a false report, is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Anyone making a report who is acting on good faith is immune from any liability under this subsection.” A third degree felony can be punished by a term of imprisonmenet of up to five years.

Since in neither of the reports is any specific allegation or evidence provided, it is clear that your only defense is that you filed and/or helped file a report in “good faith.” We believe that, based on your social media postings, you did not act in good faith but in bad faith.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines bad faith as: “The opposite of ‘good faith,’ generally implying or involving actual or constructive fraud, or a design to mislead or deceive another, or a neglect or refusal to fulfill some duty or some contractual obligation, not prompted by an honest mistake as to one’s rights or duties, but by some interested or sinister motive.”

Additionally, Florida Statute 836.01 includes a criminal charge for libel: “Any person convicted of the publication of a libel shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.”

Florida Hate Crime Law

We believe that your actions also violate the Florida hate crime laws. In establishing if it was a hate crime investigators will look at the following actions that you have taken:

— Statements of the person accused of the crime;
— Statements made during the commission of the crime;
— The nature of the offense itself;
— The existence of another apparent motive.
— That you knew the religion of the owner and employees of Mace-Kingsley.
— That you intentionally selected Mace-Kingsley because of that perception or knowledge.

One consequence of your actions if it is established that it is a hate crime is that the penalty classification will be increased in severity. Under Florida Statue 775.085, any felony or misdemeanor is reclassified one “degree” higher “if the commission of such a felony or misdemeanor evidences prejudice based on the race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, homeless status, or advanced age of the victim.” Thus a third degree felony (punishable up to five years in prison) would be classified as a first degree felony (punishable up to fifteen years in prison).


Your actions were both criminal and tortious in nature and a civil lawsuit seeking actual and punitive damages can be filed against you as a result. Your actions have caused direct damage to my client and constitute a slander per se, for which my client can recover punitive damages. I strongly advise you to cease and desist from all further actions against my client and have advised my client to respond to any further harassment with an immediate lawsuit.


Steven L. Hayes
For the Firm

cc: Florida Department of Health – Board of Nursing
Leigh Massengill, CEO Medical Center of Trinity
Doug Webster, Director of Behavior Health, Trinity

And here’s the document itself…

Debra Maxwell Cease and Desist by Tony Ortega on Scribd


Make your plans now!

Head over to our HowdyCon 2018 website to start making your travel plans!



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,027 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,630 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 173 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,236 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,010 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,784 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,130 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,624 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,664 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,376 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 902 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,991 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,131 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,451 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,426 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 782 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,084 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,190 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,593 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,465 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,047 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,552 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,796 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,905 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on February 16, 2018 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email