Scientology allegedly has a 'prison camp' called 'The Hole' — here's what happens inside

Tales of "The Hole" have formed one of the most frightening narratives about Scientology to see the light of day.

Between the "Going Clear" book and movie, Leah Remini's hit A&E docuseries, articles, and memoirs from former members, we've learned a lot about what ex-members say is Scientology's alleged prison for executives who have fallen out of favor with the organization's leader, David Miscavige.

"It was a poisonous environment," "Going Clear" author Lawrence Wright said of "The Hole" on the HBO documentary. "People were really frightened. And this went on for years. This wasn't a couple of days."

"He literally created this prison camp," Marty Rathbun, a former executice who left Scientology in 2004, said in "Going Clear" of his time in the Hole. "It was inevitable that I wasn't going to last there."

Here's everything we know about Scientology's alleged "prison" known as the Hole:

The Hole started as a power grab by David Miscavige, according to former Scientology members.

Former Scientologists say David Miscavige sent dozens of senior executives to the organization's Gold Base near Hemet, California. Leading up to the order, former members said they noticed Miscavige was extremely agitated and paranoid that there was a plot to overthrow him.

"[Miscavige] very definitely wiped out that organizational pattern in order to be able to have ultimate power," former Scientology executive Tom DeVocht said in "Going Clear."

The Hole previously served as the office for the International wing of Scientology, the team David Miscavige allegedly wanted gone.

"Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath"/A&E

The executives were reportedly corralled into two double-wide trailers, which then served as the office space for the International wing of Scientology. International President Heber Jentzsch was among them. Many ended up spending months to years living in those trailers, according to accounts. Several people who were held there say the Hole's numbers swelled to as many as 100 people.

The trailer space morphed from being known as the International office to the "A to E Room," named after the church's confessional process, the A to E steps. It was then the "SP Hole." "SP" refers to "suppressive persons," members who are believed to have broken church rules and to be bad influences on other members. Ultimately "SP Hole" was shortened to "the Hole."


It didn't take much to anger Miscavige and find oneself in the Hole, according to insiders.

Luke MacGregor/Reuters

The Hole quickly grew into a detention center for high-ranking members who displeased David Miscavige, former members have said.

"Honestly, the reasons for that could be anything from answering a question wrongly, not answering a question, a facial expression that was inappropriate, falling asleep after being up for a couple of days — I mean anything, you're in the Hole," ex-Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder said on A&E's "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath."

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People walk past the building where television station KCET used to be housed in Los Angeles, California July 10, 2012. The Church of Scientology, the religion whose followers include actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, plans to start a religious broadcasting center to promote its teachings over TV, radio and the Internet. The center, located near the church's West Coast headquarters in Hollywood, would occupy the nearly five-acre studio property the church bought last year from Los Angeles public TV station KCET for $42 million. Picture taken July 10. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
The entrance of the European Office for Public Affairs and Human Rights of the Church of Scientology is pictured in Brussels, Belgium March 11, 2016, after a Belgian court acquitted the Church of Scientology on Friday of charges of forming a criminal organization, and dismissed demands that it should close its Belgian branch and European headquarters. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
A man walks past the building of the Churches of Scientology for Europe in Brussels, March 11, 2016, after a Belgian court acquitted the Church of Scientology on Friday of charges of forming a criminal organization, and dismissed demands that it should close its Belgian branch and European headquarters. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
People walk past the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles building in Los Angeles, California July 3, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY)
People walk past a sign outside the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles building in Los Angeles, California July 3, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY)
The building of the Church of Scientology is seen in Hamburg August 8, 2007. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen (GERMANY)
The sign of the Scientology library is seen on the headquarters of the Church of Scientology in Paris May 19, 2009. REUTERS/Charles Platiau (FRANCE RELIGION)
The building of the Church of Scientology is seen in Hamburg August 8, 2007. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen (GERMANY)
A man stands on a ladder to clean the entrance of the new office of the Scientology Church in Berlin January 13, 2007. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann (GERMANY)
U.S. Actor Tom Cruise gives a speech at the inaguration of a Scientology church to a large crowd in a street in Madrid September 18, 2004. According to Scientology headquarters in Los Angeles, the 50-year-old religion now claims more than 8 million members in 159 countries. The church's most famous celebrities include John Travolta, Tom Cruise and Nancy Cartwright, who is the voice of Bart Simpson. REUTERS/Paul Hanna PH/WS
MILAN, ITALY - OCTOBER 31: A general view of the new Scientology Church is seen on the opening day on October 31, 2015 in Milan, Italy. The five-story, four-building, 258-windows, former headquarters of Philips and computer company Sun has been converted into a 10,000 square meter Scientology church and will be the largest of its kind in the world. (Photo by Awakening/Getty Images)
MILAN, ITALY - OCTOBER 31: Final preparations at the new Scientology Church ahead of today opening ceremony on October 31, 2015 in Milan, Italy. The five-story, four-building, 258-windows, former headquarters of Philips and computer company Sun has been converted into a 10,000 square meter Scientology church and will be the largest of its kind in the world. (Photo by Awakening/Getty Images)
The newly inaugurated Scientology's headquarters in Bogota, on July 6, 2015. Scientology, a religion founded by US writer L. Ron Hubbard in the 50s, opens in the Colombian capital the first Scientology Ideal Organization church in South America. AFP PHOTO/GUILLERMO LEGARIA / AFP PHOTO / GUILLERMO LEGARIA (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO LEGARIA/AFP/Getty Images)
The newly inaugurated Scientology's headquarters in Bogota, on July 6, 2015. Scientology, a religion founded by US writer L. Ron Hubbard in the 50s, opens in the Colombian capital the first Scientology Ideal Organization church in South America. AFP PHOTO/GUILLERMO LEGARIA / AFP PHOTO / GUILLERMO LEGARIA (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO LEGARIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Church of Scientology Building on 4810 Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles. (Photo by Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 27, 2015: A New York City police officer walks past The Church of Scientology of New York headquarters on West 46th Street. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 30, 2013: The original Transamerica Corporation headquarters was in a Beaux Arts building in San Francisco's North Beach area. The building is now headquarters of the Scientology Church of San Francisco. The historic building, built in 1916, is near the landmark Transamerican Pyramid building in the city's Financial District. Transamerica Corporation is a private holding company for various life insurance companies and investment firms. It was acquired by the Dutch company Aegon in 1999 on September 30, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
CLEARWATER, FL - NOVEMBER 16: A large, red ribbon drapes across the front of the of the new Scientology Flag Building on November 16, 2013 in Clearwater, Florida. Construction of the 377,000-square-foot center began in 1999 and cost more than $40 million dollars to complete. (Photo by Tim Boyles/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 05: L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology, is seen on DVDs inside the Church of Scientology community center in the neighborhood of South Los Angeles on June 5, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
CLEARWATER, FL - JANUARY 16: A headquarters for the Church of Scientology is seen January 16, 2013 in Clearwater, Florida. A book, 'Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief' that is sent to be released January 17, has renewed interest in the religion that counts actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta as followers. (Photo by Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Deutschland, Berlin, Scientology Kirche Charlottenburg (Photo by Sch�ning/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
The new Church of Scientology of Denver building at 23rd and Blake St. in Denver Tuesday, June 19th, 2012. Andy Cross, The Denver Post (Photo By Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
A sign of the Church of Scientology is pictured on November 14, 2009 in the center of the Swiss city of Lausanne. AFP PHOTO/ FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
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The reported conditions in the Hole were terrible.

"Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath"/A&E

Mike Rinder said he and the 100 or so others being held in the Hole had to eat "slop" and that they weren't able to come and go as they pleased.

"The doors had bars on them, the windows all had bars put on them, and there was one entrance door that a security guard sat at 24 hours a day," Rinder said on "Going Clear."

David Miscavige allegedly subjected those in the Hole to extremely embarrassing and torturous punishments.

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Celebrity Scientologists

Tom Cruise

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John Travolta

(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Kelly Preston

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Laura Prepon

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Beck

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Kirstie Alley

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Michael Peña

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Jenna Elfman

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Jason Lee

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Beck

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Juliette Lewis  

(Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Doug E. Fresh

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Elisabeth Moss

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Danny Masterson

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Priscilla Presley

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Bijou Phillips
 

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Greta van Susteren

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Isaac Hayes

(Pierre Virot / Reuters)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 17: Actress/Honoree Anne Archer arrives at the 18th Annual Women's Image Awards at Skirball Cultural Center on February 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)

Erika Christensen

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In "Going Clear," former Scientology executives describe being forced to play a game of musical chairs against each other, in which only the last person sitting would get to stay in Scientology. The others would be kicked out and not allowed to see or speak with their family members in Scientology again. At the end of the tense and violent game, Miscavige reportedly said they could all stay.

Other tales of mental and physical abuse in the Hole include one executive who was made to stand underneath the strong gusts of an air conditioner while water was poured on him, a woman who was beaten by other members until she confessed she was a lesbian, and another member who was made to lick a bathroom floor for a half-hour.

Violence by David Miscavige and between the Hole's occupants was reportedly the norm.

"Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief"/HBO

There was constant pressure for those in the Hole to confess their acts against David Miscavige and Scientology, according to former Scientologists. Miscavige was known to attack executives in the Hole.

"Here's the equivalent of the Pope suddenly knocking you to the ground," Tom DeVocht said of being beat up by Miscavige in "Going Clear." "And you're thinking, 'I must have really screwed up.'"

But also the occupants would allegedly use violence against each other in order to draw out confessions.

"It was like 'Lord of the Flies' in there," Rinder said on the A&E show. "I mean, it was insane. It was literally, 'I'm going to beat the crap out of you before I get the crap beat out of me.'"

Scientology's designation as a tax-exempt religion has given it protections during FBI investigations and in court cases.

In 2009, the FBI investigated Scientology on claims of human-trafficking abuses. That same year, two former Scientologists sued the church on charges of forced labor and other human-rights abuses. A judge ruled in favor of Scientology in the case due to First Amendment protections for religions and their practices, among other things. That led to the FBI investigation being dropped in 2011.

Scientology says the accounts of former members about the Hole are false and that the place doesn't exist.

"Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath"/A&E

While Scientology acknowledged it has a system of discipline for its members, it told ABC News that there's no such thing as the Hole and it never existed.

Scientology refutes the accounts from "Going Clear" and Leah Remini's A&E show, saying they are false and motivated by bitterness and money.

See Also:

SEE ALSO: All the most shocking things about Scientology, according to Leah Remini's revealing show

DON'T MISS: How Scientology leader David Miscavige rose to power, according to insiders

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