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Jun 21st, 2009 | CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The leader of the Church of Scientology struck his subordinates numerous times and set an example for physical violence among the tightly controlled religion's management team, four former high-ranking executives told a newspaper for a story published Sunday.
The executives who have since left the organization told The St. Petersburg Times that they witnessed David Miscavige, chairman of the board that oversees the church, hit staff members dozens of times, often without warning.
"It was random and whimsical. It could be the look on your face. Or not answering a question quickly. But it always was a punishment," said Mike Rinder, who oversaw the church's legal and media relations operations. Rinder said he was hit many times by Miscavige and that he also hit others before leaving in 2007. . . .
Marty Rathbun, who served on the church's board and was a top lieutenant of Miscavige's, said he was often ordered by Miscavige to attack others.
Tom De Vocht, who for years oversaw the church's spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, estimated that during one three-year period, he saw Miscavige strike staffers as many as 100 times. He left in 2005. . . .