Former members accuse church of abuse

CANBERRA, Australia, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says he'll examine letters accusing the Church of Scientology of abuses ranging from imprisonment to blackmail.

The letters from seven former church members were tabled in the Senate Tuesday night by Sen. Nick Xenophon who called for an investigation of the church, The Australian reports.


"These are grave allegations which he is making," Rudd said Wednesday in announcing he intends to examine the documents.

"Let us proceed carefully, and look carefully at the materials which he has provided, before we make a decision on further parliamentary action," the prime minister said.

The letters by former church members allege coerced abortions, assault, imprisonment, covering up sexual abuse, embezzlement of church funds and blackmail.

The Church of Scientology released a statement accusing Sen. Xenophon of "an outrageous abuse of parliamentary privilege."

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