Two former Scientologists have lost their case against the Scientology organization, after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the original ruling in their favor. Marc and Claire Headley had brought claims of human trafficking and forced labor against the Church of Scientology.
During the trial, the Headleys described working over 100 hours per week with only $50 in pay and the constant threat of physical and psychological abuse. The couple was raised in the Church of Scientology and rose through the ranks to join the organization's elite group known as Sea Organization.
It was their participation in the cult that led to abuse, forced labor, and inhumane living situations. According to Marc Headley, couples must promise not to have children and to live in a communal situation. He told the court that during his 15 years of service to Sea Org, he had been physically abused three times.
Claire Headley told the court she had been forced to have two abortions during the same time. The 3-person panel unanimously decided in favor of Scientology and told the Headleys they had sued under the wrong law. They still have the opportunity to bring a new suit against the Church if they sue under a different law.
"The Headleys joined and voluntarily worked for the Sea Org because they believed it was the right thing to do, because they enjoyed it," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote in the court's ruling.
"The court recognizes the alleged strict lifestyle constraints of the religious order had nothing to do with their repeated choice to remain," Eric Lieberman, lawyer for the Church, told the Associated Press.
Marc Headley is a frequent contributor to The Daily Beast and writes about his experience in the Church of Scientology.
"I grew up in Scientology and worked at their international Sea Organization headquarters for 15 years," he wrote in recent post. "In 2005, I got out, in an escape that involved the local county authorities- I wrote about my experiences in my bestselling book, 'Blown For Good: Behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology.'"
The Headleys have not said whether they intend to bring another suit against the Church.