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Church of Scientology Faces Controversy Over Latest Abuse Allegations

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

The Church of Scientology, which boasts such members as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, is once again steeped in controversy, thanks to a magazine article that cites numerous allegations of abusive behavior and gross misconduct.

Author Lawrence Wright writes in The New Yorker magazine that ex-members told him of physical and psychological abuse and how the church brought “escapees back” through emotional, spiritual or psychological pressure and physical force if necessary.

The church did not immediately respond today to AOL News for comment but denied the allegations in a statement, according to NBC News.

The New Yorker also says the allegations have been the subject of an FBI probe. In December 2009, FBI agent Tricia Whitehill of the Los Angeles, who worked on the human trafficking squad, flew to Florida to interview former members of the church in the agency’s Clearwater office about “abuse,” the magazine reported. The church’s spiritual headquarters is based in Clearwater.

The author cites two sources in the FBI who “assured me that the case remains open.” However, a federal law enforcement source told AOL News the investigation has fallen short and no criminal charges are expected to be filed. Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles, declined comment.

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