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AJ McLean recalls the scare he had while touring a Scientology megacenter

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ABC/Frank Ockenfels

AJ McLean admits something strange happened to him when he toured a Scientology center in Los Angeles.  

The conversation came up during the newest Pretty Messed Up podcast, where McLean and his former Dancing with the Stars dance pro partner Cheryl Burke invited Leah Remini, a former Scientologist and fellow DWTS alum, to discuss her past experiences.

The conversation triggered a memory from McLean, who recounted a time in 2002 when he visited a “megacenter” that was steps away from his old home in Los Feliz, California.

“I was curious,” the Backstreet Boy confessed. “I didn’t know what it was… didn’t know anything about it.”

A friend accompanied him on his visit and they were both invited to tour of the facility.  However, things went quickly downhill when the guide brought them to “a media room.”

“They sat us down and they said ‘Would you mind watching this short film?’ And we watched this short film,” continued McLean, who didn’t describe what he watched. “It was about 15 minutes long, and then I said ‘Okay, well, that was interesting’ and we went to leave and the door was locked!”

“They wouldn’t let us out and then they replayed the same film again,” the 43-year-old described. “We didn’t get out of that room for, at least, 15 minutes — no, longer than that —  they played [the movie] three times until someone heard me knocking.”

McLean says the experience “freaked” him out because he felt he was trapped in “a brainwashing technique.”

He said he never went back to the center after that and lost interest in Scientology, which elicited an ultra-relieved “Thank God” from Remini.

Remini, who was brought into Scientology as a child and remained for 30 years, publicly severed ties with the organization in 2013.

By Megan Stone
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