(Daily Mail By GRAHAM SMITH) – A senior Scientologist was locked up, beaten and tortured by the controversial religion’s tyrannical leadership, a court has heard after an attempt by the Church to silence her spectacularly backfired.
Debbie Cook, who was one of the organisation’s most respected executives before she quit in 2007, testified that she was held for 45 days in a crowded, ant-infested trailer in the California desert.
The 50-year-old also claimed to have witnessed Scientology chairman David Miscavige, a friend of celebrity follower Tom Cruise, punch another senior executive in the face before wrestling him to the ground.
And she told the court in San Antonio, Texas, that Mr Miscavige ordered his secretary to slap her, sending her tumbling into chairs.
Her testimony is hugely embarrassing for the Church, which took legal action to prevent her from revealing the exact details its lawsuit has now allowed her to expose in court. They claimed breach of a confidentiality agreement she signed when leaving the Church in 2007.
The organisation then suddenly withdrew from the legal proceedings after Mrs Cook’s blistering testimony on the stand.
Mrs Cook claimed that in the summer of 2007 she was one of 100 Scientology executives imprisoned in a large trailer known as The Hole.
Describing the conditions, she said: ‘It had bars on the windows and the one entrance was guarded by security 24 hours a day.
‘The place was infested by ants, so ants would crawl on you, and there was a two-week period when the electricity had been shut off, as ordered by Mr Miscavige. This was of course in summer in the desert so the temperature was about 106F [41C].’
Mrs Cook said she was forced to partake in ‘confession’ sessions during which she stood in a dustbin for two hours while water was poured over her head and abuse screamed in her face.
One senior executive who upset the Scientology leadership was made to lick a dirty floor for half an hour, she said.
Her court appearance comes after she sent a shock email denouncing Mr Miscavige to 12,000 Scientologists just minutes after midnight on New Year’s Day.
She accused him of turning the Church into a tyrannical regime in direct conflict with the doctrine laid down by founder L Ron Hubbard in the 1950s.
Writing under a banner of ‘Keep Scientology Working’, Mrs Cook called out Mr Miscavige for ‘hoarding’ more than $1billion acquired through fundraising and then spending millions on building unnecessary, lavish facilities that lie empty.
The Church applied for an injunction, claiming this email breached a confidentiality agreement she signed when leaving the organisation with a $50,000 (£32,000) pay-off in 2007.
But Mrs Cook told the court this had been signed under severe emotional duress, so broken was she after her treatment.
She said: ‘I would have signed that I stabbed babies over and over again and loved it. I would have done anything.’
She claimed she was ‘imprisoned’ at a Florida compound during her final months with the Church.
Followed everywhere she went, Mrs Cook said: ‘I called my mother and told her if I wasn’t out in three days to call the police.’
In her New Year’s email, Mrs Cook confirmed her continued commitment to the Church and called on her fellow worshippers to usher in an era of change.
It is thought that the reason she emailed thousands of worshippers was to get around the ‘long and harsh’ disciplinary action endured by those who question Mr Miscavige’s methods.
She claimed it was her conscience that caused her to speak out.
Mrs Cook was once a leading member of Scientology’s Sea Organisation before becoming a captain at its Flag Service Organization spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, Florida. She left that position a few years ago but remains a highly-respected member of the Church.
The Church has explained its reason for withdrawing its application for an injunction against Mrs Cook and her husband.
A statement said: ‘[Its withdrawal] is to preclude the court being used further as a forum for the defendants to violate the rights of the Church and its members with more false and disparaging statements.’