Tony Ortega is executive editor of The Raw Story and is formerly the editor of The Village Voice. He's written about Scientology since 1995, and has a forthcoming book about the subject. He continues to monitor breaking developments in the Scientology world from an undisclosed location in an underground bunker he shares with four cats and one of them wrinkly Shar Pei dogs. Despite his super-secret security protections, you can still reach him pretty easily by sending him a message at tonyo94 AT gmail.com (Drop him a line if you'd like to get an e-mail whenever a new story is posted.) [Header image courtesy John Rickard]
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Leah Remini ‘Fair Gamed’ by Scientology? Her sister gets a visit, and Tony Dovolani is tailed

Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani, during their run on DWTS

Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani, during their run on DWTS

In her public appearances since she left Scientology last summer, actress Leah Remini has talked about losing many longtime friends who were ordered by the church to “disconnect” from her and her family.

She’s talked about how stunning it was to see how quickly people she’d known for decades suddenly turn their backs on her.

Our sources told us that she was devastated by that reaction, and her family worried that Leah might also experience Scientology’s infamous “Fair Game” operations — intimidation campaigns carried out with the use of private investigators.

Continue reading Leah Remini ‘Fair Gamed’ by Scientology? Her sister gets a visit, and Tony Dovolani is tailed

Scientology takes aim at the latest move by the Garcias in their federal fraud suit

Luis_GarciaMore than a year ago, Luis and Rocio Garcia filed a federal fraud lawsuit against five Scientology corporate entities, alleging that while the Garcias were in the church, they were defrauded as they were constantly hit up for donations.

When the lawsuit was filed in January 2013, it seemed like a landmark case — many former Scientologists are in the same position as the Garcias, having given large amounts to the church and wishing they could get it back now that they’ve left.

Continue reading Scientology takes aim at the latest move by the Garcias in their federal fraud suit

Jefferson Hawkins helps us understand Scientology’s L Rundowns!

Jefferson_Hawkins_ObeyWith the help of experts like Claire Headley and Bruce Hines, we’ve been taking a journey to train as Scientologists. Claire spent years working with Scientology’s “tech,” and was trusted to oversee the auditing of Tom Cruise. Bruce was in Scientology for 31 years and spent about half that time as a senior case supervisor. Go here to see the first part in this series.

For more than a year, we’ve been exploring Scientology’s “Bridge to Total Freedom,” step by step. We last left off after Bruce Hines helped us understand Operating Thetan Level Seven. That leaves us with one final level on the Bridge, OT 8. We plan to dive deeply into that final step on our journey.

Continue reading Jefferson Hawkins helps us understand Scientology’s L Rundowns!

Scientology litigation always has surprises: A new wrinkle from Narconon’s attorneys

ScalesWe’ve been keeping an eye on Ryan Hamilton’s lawsuits against Scientology’s Narconon drug rehab facilities in part because they’re so thorough. The Las Vegas attorney has obviously done his homework, and in the complaints he’s filed, he lays out the history of Narconon and its many deceptions with detailed citations. With references to testimony in other cases, he’s clearly trying to anticipate all of the objections and moves that Scientology has made previously.

So what does Narconon do? You’re going to love this. In one of the four federal lawsuits Hamilton recently filed, Narconon’s attorneys have complained that Hamilton’s complaint is too detailed.

Continue reading Scientology litigation always has surprises: A new wrinkle from Narconon’s attorneys

Sunday Funnies: The Writers of the Future and more success stories!

2014-WotF-30-Bookcover.inddIs it that time of year again already? Tonight, Scientology puts on its annual celebration of SF and Fantasy, the Writers of the Future gala. The celebration will anoint this year’s winners in writing and illustration, who are also featured in another year’s anthology (see right).

Once again, leading lights of speculative fiction will pretend that this is not Scientology’s attempt to burnish its image through the imprimatur of the likes of Orson Scott Card and Larry Niven. Over the years, some writers have wondered about the veracity of assurances they got from the Sea Org executives running the event that it was separate and independent of the church itself. And since so many stories about the dystopic world of Scientology workers came to light in the last several years, those questions were getting more pointed.

Continue reading Sunday Funnies: The Writers of the Future and more success stories!

Why is Scientology’s cruise ship caught up in a lawsuit about human slavery?

FreewindsHullIn 2005, two Cuban workers showed up in the town of Willemstad, on the island of Curaçao in the Caribbean, and said they had escaped hellish conditions at a nearby drydock facility, where they’d been held for years. A third worker had made his own escape from the drydock a few months earlier.

One of the three men had worked at the facility a decade. The other two had arrived in 2001 and 2002. They said that they, along with about a hundred other men, were forced into the jobs as part of a deal to pay off Cuba’s debt to the Curaçao Drydock Company. After they had arrived, their passports were seized and they had been working 112 hours a week and under dangerous conditions for only about three cents an hour. The rest of the $6.90 an hour they were supposed to be earning went to pay off Cuba’s debt.

Continue reading Why is Scientology’s cruise ship caught up in a lawsuit about human slavery?

VERDICT: Scientology’s Quebec rehab facility violated human rights of David Love and 2 others

David_Edgar_Love2David Edgar Love and two other former patients of a Canadian drug rehab facility run by Scientology’s front group, Narconon, have won a stunning victory from Quebec’s human rights commission.

More than three years after Love complained about the way he was treated as a patient and employee of the Narconon Trois-Rivières facility (now closed), the Quebec Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse has produced a scathing finding of fact that Narconon did violate Love’s human rights.

Continue reading VERDICT: Scientology’s Quebec rehab facility violated human rights of David Love and 2 others

Is a Scientology front group among those fighting a European effort against ‘sects’?

Jonny Jacobsen

Jonny Jacobsen

Our man in Paris, Jonny Jacobsen, has a detailed report for us about one of the groups making noise about a European effort to crack down on “sects” that harm children. It’s a timely report, as a debate will be broadcast live about the issue today from Strasbourg — and Jonny’s provided us with a live link to listen in.

 
Campaigners are fighting a European initiative to protect children from the excesses of “sects,” arguing that it attacks religious freedom.

But not all of them have been clear about who they are — and what stake they have in the issues up for debate.

Continue reading Is a Scientology front group among those fighting a European effort against ‘sects’?

Appeals court: Would deposing Scientology’s leader violate Texas law?

DavidMiscavige2Nick Rogers called us from Austin with a report of what happened today in the Texas Third Court of Appeals as three justices wrestled with the question of whether Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige should be deposed in Monique Rathbun’s harassment lawsuit.

In December, Comal County judge Dib Waldrip ruled that Monique could depose Miscavige about his role in what the Church of Scientology has already admitted to — spending years to surveil her and her husband Marty Rathbun with the use of private investigators and other operatives.

Continue reading Appeals court: Would deposing Scientology’s leader violate Texas law?

Monique Rathbun in court as appeals panel considers proposed David Miscavige deposition

Monique_Rathbun2Monique Rathbun’s harassment lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige, moves to a new venue today as oral arguments are heard at the Texas Third Court of Appeals in Austin.

We’ll have several observers on hand as the proceedings begin at 1:30 pm, local time. At issue today is Comal County Judge Dib Waldrip’s decision that Monique Rathbun should get to depose Miscavige for jurisdictional reasons (Miscavige is arguing that he shouldn’t be a party to the lawsuit because, he claims, he does no business in Texas and had nothing to do with Scientology’s surveillance of Monique and her husband Marty Rathbun over the last several years).

Continue reading Monique Rathbun in court as appeals panel considers proposed David Miscavige deposition