A woman who escaped the Church of Scientology has come forward to tell her story in a new book. This time, the tale has a twist: she escaped because she came out of the closet.
According to her memoir Perfectly Clear, Michelle LeClair had already become one of the most successful women in America when she joined the controversial church, known for its celebrity clientele, science fiction mythology and exorbitant fees it charges parishioners to join. The price tag posed no issue for LeClair, proprietor of an insurance business valued in the millions. At the time she joined, LeClair was also married to a man. They had four children together.
LeClair claims she spent roughly $5 million during her time with the church, until she came to the realization that she was actually a lesbian. At that point, she divorced her husband and met her now-partner, Tena Clark. LeClair then tried to leave the church over its view that homosexuality is a disease caused by aliens (seriously), curable through a pseudoscientific process known as “auditing.” She then found herself the target of a broad intimidation conspiracy.
“From the moment I decided to publicly leave, my life unspooled as if I were in a suspense novel,” LeClair writes in her memoir. “Strange cars idled at the curb by my home at all hours of the day. Men wearing dark glasses followed me to the grocery store, my kids’ school. My computer and my phone [were] hacked.”
LeClair also found herself in legal jeopardy with the state of California, which accused her of running a Ponzi scheme. She claims Scientology helped incite the suit, which dragged on for six years, cost LeClair millions of dollars and ultimately forced her to shutter her business. In 2017, the court dropped the charges.
Now LeClair lives a happy, out life with her female companion and children. Officials for the Church of Scientology deny intimidating or otherwise harassing Michelle LeClair, as well as denying that the church has any opposition to different sexual orientations. That denial comes as something of a surprise, since Scientology has a long history of anti-gay teaching.