UPDATE: The Church of Scientology responded to Ron Miscavige's 20/20 interview with this statement to Us Weekly: "Ronald Miscavige is seeking to make money on the name of his famous son. David Miscavige has taken care of his father throughout his life, both financially and by helping him in even the most dire circumstances. Ronald Miscavige was nowhere around when David Miscavige ascended to the leadership of the Church of Scientology, mentored by and working directly with the religion’s founder L. Ron Hubbard, and entrusted by him with the future of the Church. Any father exploiting his son in this manner is a sad exercise in betrayal."
"Mr. David Miscavige’s far-reaching vision and unrelenting dedication has brought the Church of Scientology to where it is today, guaranteeing its future for generations to come," the statement continues. "Scientologists worldwide love and respect Mr. David Miscavige for his tireless work on behalf of their religion."
ORIGINAL STORY: Both sides hurled allegations as Ron Miscavige, father of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, sat down for an exclusive interview with ABC News’ 20/20 on Friday, April 29. Ron opened up about his experience as a former member of Scientology, his son’s rise to power and famed Scientology member Tom Cruise, who sees David as the “most spiritual being on this planet,” according to Ron.
Read on for Us Weekly's minute-by-minute live blog of the claims, including Ron's details of his "escape" and his emotional reveal that he has never met his great-grandkids. Also included is testimonial from fellow former member Leah Remini, who met up on 20/20 with Ron for the first time since they both left Scientology.
11 p.m. ET: At the end of the 20/20 special, Ron and Remini met in person for the first time since they both left Scientology “We have a right to tell our stories, as do thousands of others,” Remini told ABC's Dan Harris.
When asked if Ron would forgive son David, he replied, “Yes. It’s the only way to move forward.… Hard to believe, isn’t it? If he was here, I’d shake his hand and give him a hug.”
Scientology lawyer Monique Yingling insisted that David has nothing to apologize for, however. “He’s done nothing but care for [Ron],” she said.
10:56 p.m. ET: Ron blames Scientology’s “pressure to disconnect with family that leaves [Scientology]” as the reason he hasn’t seen his two daughters or numerous grandkids in years. He has never even met his great-grandchildren, a reveal that caused him to stop speaking to Harris briefly as tears flooded his eyes. “You lose your children,” Ron said.
Ron claimed that his daughters have been influenced by his son David, and challenged his son to “come on television and meet me in person.”
Remini seconded Ron's message, saying, “This is a real thing. There are people who are not meeting their grandchildren.”
One of the major points of conflict between Ron and his estranged daughters was his decision to move in with his son Ronnie, who the women have claimed was physically abusive to them as children. Ron denied this accusation against Ronnie. (Ronnie did not appear on 20/20.)
10:48 p.m. ET: Ron relayed the events of what he termed his “escape” from Gold Base, which he made with his wife in a Ford Focus that son David had previously gifted him. Ron said he “put [his] foot to the floorboard” and drove off.
Scientology attorney Yingling, however, insisted that Gold Base is “not a prison.” Ron disagreed, stressing that it was an “escape. You can’t leave.”
Remini called Ron to offer her support when she heard of his departure from Scientology. “There is no place for them to go unless they have family, which is very rare outside of the church,” the actress and former Scientology member told 20/20.
However, David did loan his father $100,000 to buy a house after leaving Scientology, Ron said. Yet attorneys working for Scientology then hired private investigators to follow David's father, according to Ron. Yingling countered that David had no knowledge of this. Ron said that when those PIs saw what looked to be him having a heart attack (he wasn’t suffering one, but was just reaching for his cellphone, he said), David reportedly told the onlookers “not to intervene” and to “let it happen.”
When Ron heard of this, he said it “was a like a shot to the head. Like being hit in the gut with a sledgehammer.”
10:36 p.m. ET: David soon got a job working at Gold Base, a lavish, expansive center for Scientology, located east of Los Angeles. There, he played music with celebrity musician and noted Scientologist Isaac Hayes, and also met his second wife.
Hayes is hardly the only celebrity member of Scientology, as ex-member and former King of Queens star Remini recently left the church after years there. Speaking about David, Remini said, “I think Dave loves his power … and uses that power to hurt people.”
Perhaps the most famous celebrity member is Cruise, who became tight friends with David in 1990 during the shoot for racing film Days of Thunder. Ron said Cruise views his son as "the top spiritual being on this planet."
Ron also spoke of life at Gold Base, saying that residents’ mail “is opened and read before you get it.”
He also mentioned the disciplinary action of “overboarding," in which a member is tossed into a body of water fully clothed. Ron referred to it as “lunatic asylum stuff” and one of the major factors that made him ultimately decide to leave.
10:22 p.m. ET: Ron said that in 1969, when David had his first “auditing” session, he told his father that he had suddenly taken care of his asthma. When Harris asked if Ron truly believed his asthma was fixed, Ron said, “It mitigated it considerably.”
David went on to move across the country from New Jersey to Los Angeles to follow Scientology, where he took up a job as a cameraman for founder L. Ron Hubbard. In 1980, when Hubbard went into seclusion, David made a strong push for the leadership position, something that didn’t sit right with everyone.
When Ron went out to be with his son, he noticed a change in David. When he greeted his son, he was met with passive silence.
10:11 p.m. ET: Sitting down with Harris, Ron spoke of the tension he currently finds himself in with son David. “He wasn’t always that way," Ron said. "When he was a kid, I’ll tell you, he was a lovable kid.”
Ron also spoke of his son’s childhood, mentioning his tendency to not back down from fights: “He was a tough kid. For his size, he’s like a stick of dynamite.”
Ron himself has a history of violence at home and admitted to striking his wife’s arm in front of the kids.
Church of Scientology lawyer Yingling told Harris that Ron is “just trying to make a buck off of his son’s name.”
10 p.m. ET: Buckle up. In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Harris on Friday, April 29, Ron, the father of Church of Scientology leader David, opens up about his experience as a former member, along with his son’s childhood.
Ron originally introduced his son to the faith when the boy was 9 years old. Recalling David’s first “audit,” a type of counseling Scientology conducts with a device called an E-meter, Ron said of his son, “After 45 minutes, David walks out, smiling, bright. [That moment] decided his life, and mine.”
With his new book Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me drawing the ire of the Church of Scientology — whose lawyer Yingling called it a “literary forgery” — Ron sits down with 20/20 to respond to Scientology’s accusations and his own daughters’ claim that he “beat our mother senseless in drunken tirades, averaging two violent attacks with his fists per week.”
20/20 airs on ABC Fridays at 10 p.m. ET.
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