|“||People keep saying, 'How’d you get power?' Nobody gives you power. I'll tell you what power is. Power in my estimation is if people will listen to you. That’s it.||„|
|~ David Miscavige|
There have been numerous allegations from former Scientologists that Miscavige personally engages in physical and psychological abuse, and enforces policies such as forced separation of family members, child labor, imprisonment, and coerced abortions.
Miscavige is known for having strong-armed the IRS into granting Scientology tax-exempt status by forcing his followers to file approximately 2,500 individual lawsuits against the agency. Miscavige has enforced his predecessor's policy of "Fair Game" towards many of Scientology's enemies deemed "suppressive persons". Some of these individuals are stalked and harassed by the church, including outspoken ex-Scientologists such as former executives Mike Rinder and Marty Rathbun.
Miscavige is also known for banishing his wife, Shelly Miscavige, to an undisclosed location.
Since Miscavige assumed his leadership role in Scientology, the press has reported accounts alleging illegal and unethical practices by the Church of Scientology or by Miscavige himself. A 1991 Time magazine cover story on Scientology described Miscavige as "ringleader" of a "hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner". Miscavige stated in a 1992 interview on Nightline—his only live televised interview to date—that the publication of the article resulted from a request by Eli Lilly, because of "the damage we had caused to their killer drug Prozac".
According to a 1994 article in Regardies magazine by journalist Patrick J. Kiger, Eli Lilly's public relations agency Hill & Knowlton, which is owned by the British advertising conglomerate the WPP Group, was pressured by Eli Lilly to drop Scientology as a client just before the Time article was published. After the Time article, Miscavige stated that, "Eli Lilly ordered a reprint of 750,000 copies of Time magazine before it came out." Scientology filed a suit against Lilly, J. Walter Thompson, Hill & Knowlton and the WPP Group. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount.
In 1998, the St. Petersburg Times published "The Man Behind Scientology", a story based on six hours of interviews with Miscavige. In this first-ever newspaper interview, Miscavige talked about his rise to leadership, creating peace and resolving conflicts, and Scientology in Clearwater. The reporters, Tom Tobin and Joe Childs, said of Miscavige that he was "not only the founder's protege and trusted aide, he is to Scientologists what the pope is to Catholics – a leader who sets the tone, establishes goals and ensures that Hubbard's practices and teachings are followed with precision".
Tobin and Childs have continued to report on Miscavige in subsequent years. In 2009, the St. Petersburg Times published a series titled "The Truth Rundown", which featured allegations by former high-ranking executives of Scientology that Miscavige had repeatedly humiliated and physically beaten his staff, and had confined Church of Scientology staff members in degrading conditions in a property owned by the organization known as "The Hole". The series included interviews with Mike Rinder, former official spokesperson for the Church of Scientology and director of the organizations's Office of Special Affairs, and Mark Rathbun, the former Inspector General of the RTC. Rinder has said that he was physically assaulted by Miscavige on about fifty occasions. These allegations have been supported by other former Scientologists: Lawrence Wright, author of Going Clear, interviewed twelve individuals who reported having been personally attacked by Miscavige and twenty-one people who say they have witnessed such attacks. Scientology denies all of these reports.
Similar charges have been reported in previous years. In 1987, the BBC Panorama program Scientology: The Road to Total Freedom? featured an interview with former member Don Larson, who described Miscavige's physical violence towards a staff member. In a 1995 interview for ITV, Stacy Young, Miscavige's former secretary and the ex-wife of Hubbard's former spokesman, Robert Vaughn Young, asserted that Miscavige emotionally tormented staff members on a regular basis. "His viciousness and his cruelty to staff was unlike anything that I had ever experienced in my life", she said. "He just loved to degrade the staff." In an incident also witnessed and supported by Amy Scobee, Jeff Hawkins, a former marketing guru for Scientology, claimed to have attended a meeting where Miscavige "jumped up on the conference room table, like with his feet right on the conference room table, launched himself across the table at me—I was standing—battered my face, and then shoved me down on the floor".
"Inside Scientology: The Truth Rundown" was recognized with journalistic honors, including the 2010 Gold Medal for Public Service award from the Florida Society of News Editors. The series was cited as a basis for subsequent journalistic investigations, including a weeklong series hosted on CNN by Anderson Cooper.