And while we were in that town, we made a pilgrimage.
We stopped by to meet Claudio and Renata Lugli, parents to Tiziano Lugli, the well-known Los Angeles ex-Scientologist who tends to get mistaken for Tom Cruise by tabloid media.
Claudio and Renata are fascinating people who have been active as “Independent Scientologists” in Europe. Like so many others, they were longtime members of the church who were embittered by decisions made by Scientology leader David Miscavige.
But the Luglis were especially interesting, because for many years, they had been personal tailors to Miscavige, his wife Shelly, and other members of Scientology’s top circles. We enjoyed hearing stories about what it was like to make uniforms for Scientology’s leaders, and we brought back amazing photographs of Shelly that we have made public here at the Bunker.
And then, recently, it dawned on us. Claudio could clear up, with authority, one of those questions that tends to come up again and again in discussions about Scientology and its controversial leader. What, exactly, is his height?
That question tends to get asked because it’s hard not to notice that the man who turns 54 at the end of this month and who has run Scientology since the late 1980s is not a tall man. In fact, in photographs, he tends to be dwarfed by his best friend Tom Cruise, who is also not known for his stature.
But judging height is a tricky business. So we reached out to Claudio, who used to measure the man for suits. How tall, exactly, is David Miscavige? If anyone would know, it was his tailor.
This week, we got a reply. We were a bit stunned, so we thought we’d take a snapshot of Claudio’s response, as it appeared in his e-mail…
What Claudio is telling us is that David Miscavige is “at max,” 1.55 meters tall, or 155 centimeters.
A quick calculation translates to 5 feet, one inch.
Well, that’s not very tall. But remember, Miscavige has run Scientology for nearly 30 years, and that certainly takes constitutional fortitude, if not vertical span.
Laura DeCrescenzo asks for a new judge
We have to admit that we’re pretty puzzled about this development. If you’ve been following our coverage, you know that Laura DeCrescenzo won a huge victory in her forced-abortion lawsuit against Scientology in October. We were in the courtroom of Los Angeles Superior Court judge Ronald Sohigian when he denied Scientology’s motion for summary judgment and then set a trial for early 2015. But then, Sohigian announced his retirement, and the case was assigned to Judge Rafael Ongkeko. Scientology then filed a peremptory objection to Ongkeko, which it has the right to do, and so the case was then assigned to Robert L. Hess.
Attorney Graham Berry reminded us that we know of Judge Hess. Back in 2002, we reported a story about the Larry Wollersheim saga finally coming to a close when Judge Hess fended off Scienotology’s objections and scheduled an evidentiary hearing, 26 years after Wollersheim had originally won a huge judgment against the church. In that hearing, Wollersheim’s attorneys were itching to enter evidence that would challenge the corporate structure of Scientology, evidence that looked explosive. Instead, the morning of that hearing, Scientology showed up with a check for nearly $9 million to make the case go away — even though for decades it had vowed never to give “one thin dime for Wollersheim.” It was a stunning surrender, and we wrote up the entire thing for the Voice years later.
Berry pointed out to us that as far as the judge lottery was concerned, Laura seemed to have hit the jackpot.
So we are wondering at her attorney John Blumberg’s decision to file an objection to Hess, which will be automatically granted. Rather than take Hess, Laura’s team has elected to roll the dice.
It’s easy, of course, to second-guess Blumberg, who no doubt has experience with Hess and, for some reason, thinks Laura could do better. So now, we’ll just have to wait to see where the fickle finger of fate points next.
Here’s the document Blumberg filed…
Jeff Harris won’t give up the class action
We haven’t spoken with Atlanta attorney Jeff Harris since a federal court dismissed the class action he filed on behalf of seven former patients of Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon. It was an ambitious lawsuit, aimed not only at the local Narconon facility but also Scientology itself. We had heard that Harris would be appealing the court’s decision. Our legal experts told us that although Judge Steve C. Jones seemed harsh in his dismissal, the grounds seemed to be mostly technical in nature. Anyway, we noticed that Harris has filed a notice of appeal, and we’re interested in seeing what brief he subsequently files. For now, here’s the notice of appeal.
And in the Garcia case…
And one more bit of legal news. Judge James Whittemore, who has proven himself to be a stickler for the rules, asked Luis and Rocio Garcia to refile their recent motion in which they asked to file an amended complaint after dropping three defendants in the lawsuit. They have five days to resubmit the motion, along with the amended complaint they propose to file. Here’s the judge’s order.
Posted by Tony Ortega on April 3, 2014 at 07:00
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UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43