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]
Facebook

Subscribe to our e-mail list

Scientology hit with another federal lawsuit over refunds — but with a twist

John_DettmerA new federal lawsuit was filed this week by former members of the Church of Scientology who are asking the organization to return money that they had put on account. John A. (pictured) and Mary Lou Dettmer of Avon, Indiana are suing Scientology’s Illinois branch after it refused to return $77,810 that the Dettmers had paid years ago for courses that they now have no use for.

The lawsuit is so new, Scientology doesn’t even know it’s coming yet, says Fred Pfenninger, the Indianapolis attorney for the Dettmers, who spoke with us yesterday. “They don’t even know, to my knowledge, that it’s been filed. We have not sent the summonses out,” he said.

Continue reading Scientology hit with another federal lawsuit over refunds — but with a twist

Is France dropping its anti-Scientology fervor because Tom Cruise is just too délicieux?

Tom_Cruise_TDFWe have another report today from our man in Paris, British journalist Jonny Jacobsen. Recently, he wrote here about a Scientologist’s 2006 suicide in France that prosecutors were trying to pin on Scientology itself. But an inability to track down three key witnesses had jeopardized the state’s investigation. Later, at his own website, Jonny summarized information that he’d received about the possible location of at least one of those witnesses.

Continue reading Is France dropping its anti-Scientology fervor because Tom Cruise is just too délicieux?

Scientology spy caught trying to interview Paul Haggis as fake ‘Time’ magazine reporter

Paul_Haggis_GC2

On April 7, film director and screenwriter Paul Haggis received an email asking for a Time magazine interview. Haggis tells us the request seemed reasonable. The writer, Mark Webber, said he was talking to a number of directors for an article about the “golden age of film.” Webber also mentioned Crash, the Oscar-winning Haggis film that is coming up on its 10th year anniversary since it was released in theaters on May 6, 2005.

Continue reading Scientology spy caught trying to interview Paul Haggis as fake ‘Time’ magazine reporter

Another leak of outtakes from 1997’s ‘Secret Lives’ — Scientology’s finance ‘dictator’

Mike_GoldsteinWe have another leak of a lengthy interview that’s never been made available in full before. It’s a talk with Mike Goldstein, who had been a member of Scientology’s Sea Organization in the 1970s and had been L. Ron Hubbard’s financial controller.

Portions of the interview appeared in Channel 4 UK’s excellent 1997 documentary, Secret Lives — L. Ron Hubbard. Over the last couple of months we’ve been posting outtakes and uncut interviews from the documentary that are appearing for the first time. Goldstein, for example, is someone who isn’t talked about a lot today, but he was at one time a key official in the Scientology superstructure.

Continue reading Another leak of outtakes from 1997’s ‘Secret Lives’ — Scientology’s finance ‘dictator’

Announcing a new video series — The stories of young Scientologists not told in ‘Going Clear’

FenceA year ago, we brought you the story of a family ripped apart by Scientology’s ‘disconnection’ policy. Gayle Smith had been a longtime staff member in the Philadelphia org who found herself “declared” a “suppressive person” in 2011, cutting her off from the church and everyone in it. That included her son, Aaron Smith-Levin, and his three children. But she defied the church, continued to see her son and grandchildren, and that ended up getting Aaron tossed out of the church and his kids kicked out of a Scientology school.

Continue reading Announcing a new video series — The stories of young Scientologists not told in ‘Going Clear’

If you want the IRS to re-examine Scientology’s tax exempt status, it’s time to get real

IRSOver the weekend, filmmaker Alex Gibney wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times arguing that the Church of Scientology deserves to have its tax exempt status taken away. And after the March 29 airing of his documentary about Scientology, Going Clear, a growing number of people seem to agree with him.

“It seems to me that our government has a ‘fundamental, overriding interest’ in protecting individual liberty by not subsidizing harassment or surveillance by gun-toting private eyes. The First Amendment should not be a smokescreen to hide human rights abuses and possible criminal activities,” Gibney wrote, making an allusion to recent revelations about Scientology leader David Miscavige allegedly paying two private eyes $10,000 a week to follow his own father, Ron Miscavige Sr.

Continue reading If you want the IRS to re-examine Scientology’s tax exempt status, it’s time to get real

How Scientology broke up Tom Cruise and Mimi Rogers: The story you haven’t heard

Tom_Cruise_Mimi_Rogers2

[Mimi Rogers and Tom Cruise at the Academy Awards red carpet on March 29, 1989. Credit: Alan Light]

When Alex Gibney’s film Going Clear premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, much of the subsequent news coverage focused on revelations by former Church of Scientology executive Mark “Marty” Rathbun that the church actively “drove a wedge” between Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, helping to end their relationship. Rathbun said that Scientology leader David Miscavige had even helped propel that breakup by ordering Kidman’s phone to be tapped, and the organization also worked to have Tom and Nicole’s adopted children, Isabella and Connor, turn away from their mother.

If the Church of Scientology was so active helping to break up Tom Cruise’s second marriage, how involved were they in ending his first, to actress Mimi Rogers?

Continue reading How Scientology broke up Tom Cruise and Mimi Rogers: The story you haven’t heard

Garcias ask for reconsideration on judge’s error: ‘We never agreed that Scientology is a religion’

Luis_GarciaOn March 13, Tampa federal Judge James D. Whittemore granted the Church of Scientology’s motion to compel Luis and Rocio Garcia to submit to Scientology’s internal arbitration scheme, which essentially ended the Garcias’ lawsuit against the church. The Garcias, who live in Irvine, California, had sued the church for fraud, contending that donations they’d given of several hundred thousand dollars had been pried out of them through lying and deceit.

Continue reading Garcias ask for reconsideration on judge’s error: ‘We never agreed that Scientology is a religion’

L. Ron Hubbard’s Navy record: Chris Owen critiques the ‘Business Insider’ story

HubbardNavyOne of the great results of Lawrence Wright’s New Yorker article on Paul Haggis and Scientology, which grew into his book Going Clear, was that he got the Church of Scientology to turn over a huge amount of documentation of L. Ron Hubbard’s life.

In that trove turned out to be a number of records concerning Hubbard’s career in the US Navy and the 21 medals Hubbard had supposedly been awarded, including two Purple Hearts for being injured in combat. But Wright had his own set of records that he’d acquired directly from the Navy, and they differed from the church’s documents in a number of ways, including a lack of any Purple Hearts or any other medals having to do with combat — since Hubbard hadn’t seen any. The implication seemed clear: Scientology wasn’t above doctoring things to make Hubbard’s World War II career appear more valorous than it was.

Continue reading L. Ron Hubbard’s Navy record: Chris Owen critiques the ‘Business Insider’ story

Read the police report on the spies who kept tabs on the father of Scientology’s leader

David_Miscavige_IAS30We have it, Underground Bunker readers, and now we want your help combing through the documents. We have the police report of Dwayne Powell, who was stopped with his son Daniel during an operation to spy on Ron Miscavige Sr, father to Scientology leader David Miscavige (pictured).

Continue reading Read the police report on the spies who kept tabs on the father of Scientology’s leader