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 posts the (nearly) full deposition of reclusive ‘Justice Chief’ Mike Ellis

Mike Ellis [Photo by Doug Owens]

Mike Ellis [Photo by Doug Owens]

Our fevered brain is still keeping us hunkered down in the Bunker. The cats are mixing up some nasty-smelling elixirs they swear will make us well. We think they just enjoy seeing us suffer.

Anyway, we only have energy for another short post today, and we apologize if it only appeals to the truly hardcore in the Scientology watching community. But we understand that for many former members of the Church of Scientology, there’s a big fascination for a man named Mike Ellis, who holds the position of “International Justice Chief” of the Church of Scientology International.

When a member is “declared” a “suppressive person” — excommunicated, essentially — all other members of Scientology have to cut off all ties to the “SP” or risk being declared suppressive themselves. By Scientology policy, the only person an SP can communicate with in the church is the International Justice Chief, or one of his “continental” subordinates.

You might get in touch with the IJC to discuss having a “committee of evidence” to overturn your declare, or you might demand money back that you put on account and no longer have use of.

Former members have received some hilariously cynical letters back from the IJC — as we showed with this classic “Catch-22″ faced by South African former member Robert Berrington. Berrington was told that to get a refund, he needed to fill out a particular form, but the form was only available inside an “org,” and since he was declared, he couldn’t get access to one. Amazing.

Berrington’s letter came up during the January 29 deposition of Ellis in the Garcia federal fraud lawsuit. Garcia attorney Ted Babbitt questions Ellis about what appears to be a crucial error in Scientology paperwork. Members are required to sign “enrollment forms” that make them promise to take their grievances to “binding arbitration.” But the rest of Scientology’s “ethics” policies don’t mention arbitrations at all. And Ellis has to admit that in the time he’s been IJC since 1998, there hasn’t been a single arbitration in the history of the church.

Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder had testified that the “arbitration” clause in the enrollment form was always meant to be a sham, and the church never had any intention of hearing grievances that way. But now, Scientology is trying to force the Garcias into arbitration as if it were a legitimate alternative to civil court.

If you’re an ex-member and you’ve thought about suing over funds on account, you’ll probably want to read this deposition. For the rest of you, it’s hard for us to judge. Our brain is too fevered up. One more note: There are some redactions here, because it was Scientology itself that filed this deposition, but they seem to be minor.

 

Garcia v. Scientology: Mike Ellis Deposition Part 1

 
Mike Ellis Deposition Part 2
Mike Ellis Deposition Part 3
Mike Ellis Deposition Part 4

 
We’re also going to include a deposition by Sherman Lenske, mainly because that’s a name that tends to get some former Scientologists in a tizzy. Unfortunately, it’s just a small portion of the deposition.

 
Sherman Lenske deposition (partial)

 
——————–

‘Going Clear’ tickets are on sale

Hey, don’t miss out on one of these screenings at Lincoln Center. If enough people go, we have a feeling the showings will be extended into a second week.

The Presidio Theater in San Francisco is now featuring ‘Going Clear’ on its website. And the Hollywood Arclight is now showing times for the movie.

Also, for our friends in France (hey, Jonny Jacobsen!) Gibney tells us that Canal Plus has obtained the rights to show ‘Going Clear’ in that country.

 
——————–

Posted by Tony Ortega on March 6, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

 

‘Will Smith is not a Scientologist’ — we elaborate on our quote the press went wild for yesterday

Will_Jada_SmithYour proprietor has been laid low by a virus right in the middle of all this intense publicity for Alex Gibney’s film, Going Clear. This is what we get for leaving the confines of the Bunker and interacting with germy human beings.

So we’re going to keep things short today, and trust our commenters to fill in by keeping an eye on all of the crazy press going on as we near the movie’s theatrical debut next week.

Continue reading ‘Will Smith is not a Scientologist’ — we elaborate on our quote the press went wild for yesterday

Scenes from the ‘Going Clear’ publicity caravan in midtown Manhattan

Mike_Rinder_Aaron_Smith-Levin

Yesterday Mike Rinder and your proprietor were being interviewed about Alex Gibney’s film Going Clear for a well known national news organization when the interviewer asked, what is David Miscavige’s biggest skeleton in his closet?

We had already talked about the Scientology leader’s disappeared wife, Shelly Miscavige, and where we think she has been for the last nine years. And that, certainly, is one of the biggest controversies about David Miscavige. But we thought Rinder had a really good answer.

Continue reading Scenes from the ‘Going Clear’ publicity caravan in midtown Manhattan

How’s this for a gift on L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday? ‘Going Clear’ in theaters March 13

TimesTalkOur commenters didn’t miss it yesterday when director Alex Gibney, in a talk at the New York Times building about his new documentary, Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief, dropped the news that his movie will open in theaters next week.

And what a date — Friday, March 13, on L. Ron Hubbard’s 104th birthday.

Continue reading How’s this for a gift on L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday? ‘Going Clear’ in theaters March 13

NEW TODAY: Memoir with shocking claims by notorious Scientology spy, Merrell Vannier

Merrell_VannierThere was a time when coming out with a book about Scientology meant almost certain litigation and harassment. From 1970 (George Malko, Scientology: The Now Religion) to 1990 (Jon Atack, A Piece of Blue Sky), and those in between — Paulette Cooper (1971), Cyril Vosper (1971), Robert Kaufman (1972), Roy Wallis (1976), Russell Miller (1987), and Bent Corydon (1987) — every author who came out with a book about the secretive and litigious organization saw his or her book sued and ultimately made difficult to find.

But things have changed. A wave of former Scientology members, including former high-ranking executives, came out of the organization in the 2000s and wrote self-published books about their experiences, including Marc Headley, Jefferson Hawkins, Nancy Many, Amy Scobee, and three books by Mark “Marty” Rathbun. None of them were sued.

Continue reading NEW TODAY: Memoir with shocking claims by notorious Scientology spy, Merrell Vannier

Sunday Funnies: Scientology going all-in with fundraising and fire fighters

Dave_WellsHey, it’s nice to get to our weekly feature, Sunday Funnies, when we can sit back and watch our great commenters take apart the latest fundraising fliers put out by Scientology.

Our tipsters have another fun collection for us this week, and as always we’ll be looking for interesting patterns or wacky new theme-party ideas.

Continue reading Sunday Funnies: Scientology going all-in with fundraising and fire fighters

LEAK: Scientology celebrities are stepping up their involvement behind the scenes

Kirstie_Alley_Jenna_ElfmanOur tipsters have sent us several emails and fliers lately that suggest to us that there’s something interesting going on with Scientology’s celebrities.

If you recall, we suggested in recent months that we had noticed a marked increase of activity from some of the most reliable Scientology actor types. Kirstie Alley, Kelly Preston, and Nancy Cartwright all recently completed “Operating Thetan Level 7,” one of the most difficult high-level courses on “The Bridge,” and one that can take years to finish. Also, actress Marisa Nichols finished OT 8, the highest level of all, which is only delivered on board Scientology’s private cruise ship the Freewinds. Cartrwight, Alley, and Michelle Stafford have also recently been spotted on the ship.

Continue reading LEAK: Scientology celebrities are stepping up their involvement behind the scenes

Gerry Armstrong’s full 1997 ‘Secret Lives’ interview about L. Ron Hubbard

Gerry_Armstrong_SLWe have a special treat for you today. It’s another full interview leaked for the first time from Channel 4’s excellent 1997 documentary, Secret Lives — L. Ron Hubbard, and this time with Gerry Armstrong, who is probably very well known to most readers of this website.

The documentary is one of the better ones made about Scientology, and it contains numerous short clips of people who knew Hubbard. A source is releasing to us the uncut segments with these participants for the first time. So far, we’ve seen interviews with Hubbard’s literary agent, Forrest Ackerman, his press assistant and lover, Barbara Klowden, one of Hubbard’s fellow science fiction colleagues, Arthur Jean Cox, the former mayor of Clearwater, Florida, Gabe Cazares, and Hubbard’s former medical officer, Jim Dincalci.

Continue reading Gerry Armstrong’s full 1997 ‘Secret Lives’ interview about L. Ron Hubbard

Can you help solve this odd Scientology financial mystery?

RamsayDetailWe’re calling on the super-sleuths who frequent the Underground Bunker to help us out in an intriguing little mystery.

It involves a large payment to one of Scientology’s key entities, and in a manner that seems to defy explanation.

Here’s the background. About a year and a half ago, a man named Jonathan Ramsay inquired with the Church of Scientology about the accounts left behind by his father, Peter Ramsay, a Toronto Scientologist who died three years ago.

Continue reading Can you help solve this odd Scientology financial mystery?

Now it’s Scientology UK that opens its books, and we have the numbers

BritishPoundsWhat a week of “dox” we have going on this week in the Underground Bunker. Scientology Australia had to open up its books because of changes in the law there, and on Monday we had the latest numbers and a rare peek inside Scientology finances. Yesterday, a release of government documents gave us our first look ever at L. Ron Hubbard’s high school grades. (Random, we know.)

And now, today, another telling disclosure. We have the latest filing for the finances of Scientology’s organizations in the UK which, for bizarre reasons we’ll explain in a minute, are actually registered with Australia’s national charities commission.

Continue reading Now it’s Scientology UK that opens its books, and we have the numbers