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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VIDEO: Watch a Scientology spy get busted by Marc Headley in Las Vegas last night

LVPartyLast night, more than a hundred former Church of Scientology members gathered for a birthday party and reunion at the Suncoast Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

And waiting for them, as they began walking into the rented hall for the event, were a couple of men filming them.

“They were right next door to the banquet hall. Two gentlemen sitting on a sofa near the door,” Marc Headley tells us.

Continue reading VIDEO: Watch a Scientology spy get busted by Marc Headley in Las Vegas last night

The Scientologist who wouldn’t fly: The rise and fall of insurance mogul Richie Acunto

PatronLaureateAt 7:16 PM Eastern time on Sunday, an eBay auction will end and someone will become the new owner of the trophy you see pictured at the right.

With its custom-made carrying case, the trophy weighs 115 pounds, and the winner will have to spend $249.99 to have it shipped. Bidding for the item started on November 13 at $299.99, and as of this morning there have been two bids on it, taking the current price to $312.79.

Continue reading The Scientologist who wouldn’t fly: The rise and fall of insurance mogul Richie Acunto

Swiss politicians sue Scientology for libel in battle over anti-drug front group

SwissPoliticosWe have another exclusive from our man in Paris, British journalist Jonny Jacobsen, who filed this report today…

Two Swiss politicians are suing Scientology in the latest twist of a long-running battle to expose the movement’s links to an anti-drugs group there.

They filed their case in response to a Scientology spokeswoman’s comments dismissing their efforts to get the drugs group to come clean about the connection.

Continue reading Swiss politicians sue Scientology for libel in battle over anti-drug front group

Did a fashion website give a big boost to a Scientology infiltrator of NYC schools?

City Councilman Dan Halloran (center), in 2013 with Bernard and Meghan Fialkoff

City Councilman Dan Halloran (center), in 2013 with Bernard and Meghan Fialkoff

See also: What’s in that ‘world exclusive’ in the National Enquirer?

Back in March of 2013, we told you about a sneaky Scientology infiltration of New York City schools. In a place like New York, Scientology doesn’t do very well — residents here are on to L. Ron Hubbard and his wacky organization, and this city has never had the kind of Scientology presence you see in places like California and Florida.

So that means Scientology has to try harder, and play things a little more under the radar. But thanks to our tipsters, we caught on to the sneaky attempts to get L. Ron Hubbard into the local schools through the efforts of a wealthy Queens dentist and his energetic daughter.

Continue reading Did a fashion website give a big boost to a Scientology infiltrator of NYC schools?

What’s in that National Enquirer ‘World Exclusive’ about Scientology?

NatEnqFBI
We couldn’t help being intrigued when the National Enquirer claimed that it had “bombshell” documents which were the “FBI’s secret Scientology files” and that they described what John Travolta and Tom Cruise were “hiding.”

Scientology watchers know that thousands of pages of FBI files about L. Ron Hubbard and the church with information going back to the 1940s have been freely available on the Internet for a long time, and that most of what they describe has already been thoroughly hashed over in books by Russell Miller, Jon Atack, Bent Corydon, Janet Reitman, and Lawrence Wright, not to mention in many websites such as Operation Clambake and the archives of Caroline Letkeman.

But the Enquirer seemed to claim that it had something new. Here’s how they describe it:

Continue reading What’s in that National Enquirer ‘World Exclusive’ about Scientology?

Pearl Harbor Day 2015 — Mark your calendar for a day that will live in Scientology infamy

Laura_DeCrescenzoFinally, we have a new trial date in Laura DeCrescenzo’s forced abortion lawsuit against the Church of Scientology. Filed in 2009, the lawsuit has had a very complex history as the church challenged it on statute of limitation grounds, resulting in the suit’s dismissal. But an appeals court revived it, Laura then fought all the way to the US Supreme Court to get key records of her own confessional auditing sessions, and then she survived Scientology’s motion for summary judgment — a dramatic day in court we were present for.

Continue reading Pearl Harbor Day 2015 — Mark your calendar for a day that will live in Scientology infamy

L. Ron Hubbard, deadbeat dad ALSO: Former members of Scientology show off their stuff

HubbardSpeechOver the past week we’ve made a couple of interesting dives into L. Ron Hubbard’s past, and it’s prompted tipsters to send us some really great items.

Today, we have another key document from Hubbard’s life, and we believe it’s the first time an image of the document itself has been posted online.

It’s an affidavit that Hubbard’s first wife, Margaret Louise “Polly” Grubb, filed after Hubbard failed to pay child support.

Continue reading L. Ron Hubbard, deadbeat dad ALSO: Former members of Scientology show off their stuff

What Adrian Chen got wrong about Anonymous and Scientology

HackerHoaxerFormer Gawker writer Adrian Chen has a long and contentious history with the hacktivist collective known as Anonymous. We’re not really very interested in that backstory (though a recent article shows that it’s pretty juicy). And we’re also not all that interested in the drubbing that Chen gave last week to McGill University professor Gabriella Coleman’s new book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous.

We found Coleman’s book to be pretty useful and fascinating, but Chen accused her of being too embedded with Anonymous so that she tended to overlook some of its faults. For an interesting counterpoint to Chen’s piece in the Nation, we recommend David Auerbach’s response in Slate.

Continue reading What Adrian Chen got wrong about Anonymous and Scientology

More L. Ron Hubbard history that Scientology has done its best to disappear

Hubbard_SpeechWe have a follow-up to our story Wednesday about Scientology doing what it can to erase L. Ron Hubbard’s second wife, Sara Northrup, from the historical record.

We had some help from Lauren Wolf, who worked as research assistant to author and New Yorker staff writer Lawrence Wright on his 2013 book, Going Clear. It was Lauren who had spotted a photograph in a Scientology publication that erased Sara Northrup from a 1946 photo with Hubbard. She told us she had found it too late for Wright’s book, and we were grateful that she brought it to the Underground Bunker.

Continue reading More L. Ron Hubbard history that Scientology has done its best to disappear

Sunday Funnies: Get yer boots on for some Scientology line dancing in Austin!

AustinDanceWe have another fun set of Sunday Funnies for you this week, where we reveal to you the best Scientology mailers that have been sent to us during the week.

And this time, we get to start off with a couple of new videos. This first one, from the Austin org, is really a treat.

Now, we’ve only been to Austin a couple of times, but we enjoyed how seriously the town takes its fun, and in particular its music.

Continue reading Sunday Funnies: Get yer boots on for some Scientology line dancing in Austin!