A former female Scientology life coach claims she was put in a secret labor camp by the Church for the crimes of fancying another Scientology girl and stealing a kiss from her.
The former top Scientologist, who worked with Tom Cruise’s and John Travolta’s children, says she managed to escape the Church by downing a bottle of bleach
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Nora Crest, Nora Sova at the time, was a friend of the stars and worked at Los Angeles Celebrity Centre, building up a close rapport with Cruise’s kids and Travolta. She helped work through their Scientology courses and acted as a ‘life counselor’ to the stars.
But she says that all changed when she kissed another girl – and liked it. Even though it never went any further than kissing, Nora was put into the Rehabilitation Project Force [RPF].
Former members refer to this as the equivalent of a ‘Scientology prison’.
The now 39-year-old claims that she was ordered to work for a pittance and endured horrific injuries, including three broken ribs, while working and living in squalid conditions.
Scientology’s founder L. Ron Hubbard classified homosexuality as an ‘illness’ and a ‘sexual perversion’ and said the Church should help to ‘cure’ homosexuals.
Nora is the first person to ever speak out after having a homosexual experience in the Church and says the ‘cure’ is actually years in the RPF, which is for people who have violated expectations or policies.
They are sent to secret bases to do arduous 80-hour week ‘hard labor’ for months, and sometimes, years on end.
It culminated with Nora trying to escape several times – but always getting caught and made to return – before downing a bottle of bleach in ‘let me leave or die’ desperation.
‘It was the most horrific time of my life. I was battered and bruised, pushed around and nearly died trying to leave the Church and all because I had the audacity to desire another woman.
‘I was brainwashed into believing I’d done wrong and had to live in horrific conditions for three years before I was finally allowed to leave. This can’t be allowed to happen to another person, hence why I’m speaking out.
‘Homosexuality in the Church is the lowest of the low, you’re treated like scum,’ says Nora.
Daily Mail Online has reached out to the Church of Scientology for comment on this article but has yet to receive a response.
The 39-year-old is now happily married with two children and credits husband Cameron for ‘saving her life’, but never believed that her faith in Scientology would nearly kill her.
Before her punishment, Nora was a high flying member of the Sea Org, a hardcore group for dedicated members who sign a billion-year contract tying them to the Church.
Both her parents, Kathy Thomas and Constantine Panfilous Sova, were heavily involved in the Church and eager for Nora to be an active member from an early age.
At 18, she was working as a teacher in a Scientology School in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, and had just joined the Sea Org.
‘My father decided that there was no other path in life. Even at an early age, he was trying to get me to recall past lives, which is what Scientologists believe in,’ she says.
‘But I loved normal things like basketball and soccer. I had a plan to go to college and be a sports broadcaster.
‘But I eventually took a job at 18 at the Lewis Carroll Academy of the Arts teaching PE and reading. It was a Scientology school, and in the eyes of the Church, you’re fully qualified if you’ve graduated from High School.
‘I did it to please my dad and the Church. When you’re a Scientologist, you want to show your dedication, and that it is at the heart of everything you do.
‘I was doing more and more courses and had reached the “State of Clear” by the age of 14, which is really young. They say your mind is then free of unwanted emotions, but it basically means you’ve been fully brainwashed.
‘They convinced me that, as I was doing so well, then I must have been a Sea Org member in another life, so it was my duty to do it again.’
In 1996, Nora began working as a Church recruiter in Los Angeles before completing courses and intensive training to be a Word Clearer. This allowed her to deliver Study Tech, which is an intensive form of learning devised by founder Hubbard where students are made to understand every single word of a text, so that there are no apparent barriers to study.
Nora was given a trusted position at the Celebrity Center in Los Angeles where she helped stars and their children to study Hubbard’s scriptures using an E-Meter, ‘ an electronic instrument that measures mental state and change of state in individuals and assists the precision and speed of auditing’, according to the Scientology website.
‘I would work with celebrities on a one-on-one capacity. I was Word Clearing John Travolta as he was having trouble with a specific policy that LRH [L. Ron Hubbard] had written.
‘I used an E-meter to guide him to words that he didn’t understand. The meter helped me look for a reaction if they didn’t understand a word.
‘The needle would flicker if he didn’t understand and I’d use a dictionary to help him and he’d have to repeat it until the needle flowed like a sweeping hand of a clock. He was very nice and apologized 20 times for helping him,’ says Nora.
‘I worked with Tom Cruise’s kids Connor and Isabella – they were only little and I was working with them during the summer time when they were off school, they were fun and very sweet.
‘That’s when Tom and Nicole were going through a separation and we were ordered never to speak of her and she was a bad person. l also worked Lisa Marie Presley’s daughter Riley. She was lovely.’
Even though Nora was a respected worker, she says that she was forced to live in a cockroach- and rat-infested accommodation block with other Sea Org members, who were all earning only a pittance.
After dating a couple of guys – but never having full sex in fear of the Sea Org’s strict ‘no sex before marriage’ rule – she found herself sharing a room with another girl.
‘A few months later I got sick and [the girl] said she’d give me a Scientology ‘nerve assist’, which means laying your hands on critical nerves along the spine to get the body going again. It felt nice and comforting, she then offered to tuck me into bed, and leaned down and kissed me on the mouth.
‘It was more than a peck. It was a very explosive moment in my mind. I didn’t know what was happening and how I was feeling, but I liked it, and we continued to kiss over the next few months, but never anything more,’ says Nora.
‘We didn’t engage in sex before marriage, as we knew how strict it was. I didn’t want to get into trouble, I even got myself a boyfriend to hide what we were doing.
‘I was completing major courses in Scientology, I thought this was my life and didn’t want to screw it up.’
It wasn’t long though before other Sea Org members realized what was happening and Nora was ordered to see her chief officer for, what Nora calls, an ‘intense interrogation.’
She says: ‘They recorded everything and said I was destroying the Sea Org morale, it was too much for everyone, so I confessed to everything, I felt so guilty. I was then told I wouldn’t be on my job anymore and they were going to work out what to do with me. They did the same with [the girl].
‘We were put on cleaning and construction work for three months before they sent me to RPF in March 2000, which is when my hell began.’
RPF was a rundown building in west Los Angeles where inmates were made to believe they’d done wrong against the Church and work over 80 hours a week for only $50 a month.
Nora explains: ‘It was the culture where every minute of every day, hundreds of people were watching you, judging you, making sure you didn’t step out of line. We were sleeping in dorms where there were at least 33 women on bunk beds, three beds high.
‘If I put my hand on the shoulder of a woman, spoke to a woman, or anytime I was nice to a woman, I’d get a report. We had three meals a day, where you have 20 minutes to gather your food and eat it, and 30 minutes to do your hygiene.
‘You get numbed by nudity and have no privacy. You get used to going to the toilet and five people watch you. The rooms had bugs and cockroaches; the bunks were dirty mattresses with rusty springs dating back to the 50s.
‘Disgusting conditions become the norm and you think that’s what you deserve and that you are what they say you are: a worthless piece of s**t.
‘You spoke only when you were spoken to. All outside communication was heavily vetted, so if my mom wrote a letter they would cross things out or I’d be interrogated asking why she said a certain thing. We got $11.25 a week and had to buy everything with that including hygiene products.
‘If you wanted a snack you had to buy it yourself. You’d go to the canteen and they’d charge you $1 for a coke or $2 for a protein bar. That’d leave with you hardly anything for the rest of the week.
‘You’re required to run all day, every day. If you need the bathroom you have to run there. Your uniform consists of black jeans, grey shirts, a belt and steel toe-capped boots, as everyone worked on construction in some form. I worked for the electrical unit, even though I had no knowledge, and was given various challenges that you had to complete in a certain time.
‘For example, I’d have to put down five junction boxes in a minute, if I missed the target, I’d have to ‘Take A Lap’, which meant going down to the basement of the facility and running a quarter mile.
‘If they didn’t want you to take the time to do that, they’d make you do fifty sit-ups or push-ups on the spot every time you missed the target.
‘We would also be thrown ‘overboard’, which stemmed from people being punished on other bases where they’d be thrown into a lake or pool of water.
‘As we didn’t have any water near us, we would stand in an empty trash can while various people poured buckets of iced water over your head and were shouting at you about what crap you were. After they were done with you, you were made to clean up all the mess.’
‘Every Tuesday they would serve hamburgers and fries for lunch. It was the one thing, besides cold scrambled eggs for breakfast, that we had consistently.
‘We’d be made to wait in line for the food to be distributed, there’d be around 250 people. When the doors opened, there was large stands of burger and fries and people would be diving at them, it was like a scene from Lord of the Flies, elbowing, punching each other, ripping hamburgers from one another, screaming in each others’ faces, then running off with the food to corners of the room like rabid animals and eating it quickly.
‘It was a fight for life in there, every single day.’
During her time working on construction, Nora says that she suffered a number of injuries, including three broken ribs and two herniated discs.
‘I was doing a Scientology routine where you learn to use verbal and physical commands to move a person from one wall across the room to the other. I was working with a man in his 40s and over 200 pounds in weight.
‘He was becoming increasingly frustrated with not being able to move me across the room and became suddenly violent, picking me up off the ground and slamming my whole body repeatedly into the concrete wall. Two of my ribs on the left side dislocated from my frame, and cracked, and one on the right fractured. I had no pain medication or anti-inflammatory and I was still made to work,’ says Nora.
‘Then while doing construction on a new accommodation block, I was breaking down a pony wall with a sledge hammer. After swinging the hammer for 20 minutes I collapsed and couldn’t move. I was unable to walk unaided and hunched like a 95-year-old.
‘After I could stand for more than ten minutes on my own I was put back to work – ten to 15 hours a day. After all this, I was adamant I wanted leave, but they made it virtually impossible for me.’
After two years in the RPF, literally battered and bruised, Nora tried to quit.
‘They said I could leave but interrogated me with thousands of questions – are you a secret FBI agent? Do you want to harm the Church? Over and over again.
‘The only way you can leave officially is if you go up against a board of your fellow Sea Org members, who you’ve been close to for so long, and prove to them that you’re not fit enough to be in the Sea Org anymore, you have to say you’re so pathetic that you’re not worthy of it,’ she says.
‘I had to tell them i was a degraded human being, unable to help me or anyone else, I was a terrible person and they should please kick me out.
‘It was one of the worst days of my life and I had to wait for three months for their decision while being convinced to stay on a daily basis. They’re telling me that I’m useless and I’m only ever going to be a hooker on the outside, I’d have nothing.
‘They threatened to split my family up and that I could never speak to my mother or sister. Ultimately, I changed my mind and decided to stay, they’d broken me again.’
But the final straw came only a few months later, in November 2002, when she was punished for laughing and joking with another female.
‘I was put in the laundry unit and we were having fun, someone saw this and thought I was trying to seduce her, so they ordered me to do a confessional with an E-Meter, which would show if I’m telling the truth. I was asked all these questions if i’d kissed her, touched her, talked naughty words to her. I started laughing. I put down the E-Meter and said: “This isn’t Scientology”, and tried to leave the room, but they were stopping me. More and more people came into the room.
‘I was trying to get to the door and got five feet from it, but they were grabbing all parts of me and dragging me down. At one point, I had 13 people on my body and was pinned to the floor. I couldn’t move, I was screaming, but I somehow managed to break free an arm and open the door and wrangle free.
‘I was being kicked and punched, my face was covered in blood, but I just ran. Not thinking straight, I didn’t run to the police, instead I ran to the security at the base, who held me there until an RPF officer came to see me. Next day, I was told by the commanding officer that I was a piece of s**t and would be heavily punished.
‘I was made to scrub walls, but I was crying hysterically even as I was working. I thought there was no escape, I even tried to cut my wrists with scissors, but they were so blunt that I couldn’t do it, I really thought that I was so inept I couldn’t even kill myself properly.
‘I then went into a utility cupboard and saw a massive bottle of industrial strength bleach and so drank a hefty cap full, around the equivalent of a quarter cup. I fell backwards, my whole body was convulsing, my throat started to swell. When they found me, they got a gallon of milk and put me in a room and made me drink it.
‘They then got a Scientology doctor, who escorted me to a hospital and made sure I stuck to the true story before we went inside, that I was not depressed and drank bleach by accident. The doctor didn’t believe me and kept asking the same questions, but I stuck to the story.
‘When I was released from hospital, they took me to a building and I was forced to sign a waiver that I wasn’t ever going to sue the Church, say bad things, never criticize it. I said it all to camera. I didn’t care, I just wanted to go home. They then drove me to Eagle Rock in LA where my mom lived. I was just so relieved to see her. But I didn’t tell my mom what really happened for five years.’
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