The Los Angeles Police Department has notified Leah Remini’s attorney, Douglas Mirell, that it needs an additional two weeks to fulfill Remini’s December 12 records request regarding the whereabouts of Shelly Miscavige, wife of Scientology’s leader, David Miscavige.
On August 5, 2013, Remini filed a missing person report with the LAPD about Shelly, who was once a formidable executive in Scientology, but who vanished from Scientology’s “Int Base” near Hemet, California in late summer 2005, and has only been seen in public one time since — at the funeral of her father in the summer of 2007 while in the presence of a Scientology “handler.”
Shelly was once a fixture at Scientology events. But she hasn’t been seen at one since 2005, and she’s also cut off from her family. We think we know where she’s been kept all this time, but Remini’s 2013 request put the LAPD on the spot to locate her.
On the morning of August 8, 2013 we broke the news of the missing person report, but by that afternoon the LAPD was leaking to other reporters that it had checked on Shelly and that Leah’s report was “unfounded.”
Remini herself never received a formal response from the department, even though she was the one who filed the request to check on her. So, in her December 12 records request, Leah asked not only for a formal response to her report, but also a lot more detail besides…
1. Who conducted the investigation that occurred in response to the [missing person report]?
2. When did that investigation commence?
3. When did that investigation conclude?
4. What actions were undertaken in connection with that investigation, and by whom?
And several more detailed questions.
On December 19, a week after Leah made her request and three days before it was required to respond, the department sent a letter under Chief Charlie Beck’s name saying that it was invoking the state records law, which allows an additional two weeks for “unusual circumstances.” With that additional time, the department will “search for, collect, and review the collected records from other Department entities which are separate from the office processing the request.”
We’ve always been curious about the LAPD’s 2013 handling of Remini’s missing person report. When we asked the department’s Lt. Andre Dawson about it, he told us that two of his detectives had met personally with Shelly, who did not want to make a public statement. When we asked him if other church officials had been present at that meeting, he quickly responded, “That’s classified.” Since we had that conversation with Lt. Dawson three years ago, we have spotted him featured numerous times in Scientology fliers for events where he’s been a featured speaker.
So, for those reasons, we’re very curious about what official records might say about how Leah’s 2013 report was handled. Is it a good sign that the LAPD has asked for more time to fulfill her records request?
We called up Ray Jeffrey, a Texas attorney who has extensive experience in litigation with the Church of Scientology and prying records from it. He also has plenty of experience with requesting government records.
“I think it’s promising that they’re not raising a bunch of reasons why they don’t have to give her any records. They’re just saying they need more time,” he told us. “They’re not saying that they’re not going to give her the stuff. So I think it sounds good.”
We hope he’s right and the LAPD has some interesting things to say about how it checked on Shelly’s condition in 2013.
As for Shelly’s current condition, the sightings we reported recently got picked up far and wide by other media. Our sources in the small mountain community of Crestline where the sightings occurred tell us that the place is buzzing about the story, and that people are keeping an eye out for Shelly.
Meanwhile, perhaps most importantly, Shelly’s husband David Miscavige continues to say nothing publicly about the woman he married on December 30, 1982, and who hasn’t been seen by his side in 11 years.
A week from today will be their 34th wedding anniversary.
Our Scientology year-in-review: March
We’re continuing our look back at the year of 2016 here in the Underground Bunker, and today we’re looking at the stories we published in March.
The month started out with a court decision that was so unexpected, you could have knocked us over with a feather. For years, we’d been reporting on Tampa attorney Ken Dandar’s bizarre predicament that at one time had a Florida state judge warring with a Florida federal judge over Dandar’s fate. Eventually, the state judge decided that Dandar owed the Church of Scientology a ruinous $1 million in damages for something he said he never did. Dandar made numerous attempts to fight the decision, including a new federal lawsuit and a state court appeal — and frankly, they all seemed desperate and doomed to fail, and Scientology started moving in for the kill, beginning proceedings to seize Dandar’s assets and make his ability to make a living very difficult. Then, on March 2, we announced the stunning news that the state court of appeals had decided the $1 million judgment had been improperly awarded, and wiped it out. And then, later in the year, all of the lawsuits would be ended and Dandar was in the clear. We’re still amazed that he got out of that pickle, and our hats are off to him.
March brought more good news for our readers in the UK: Silvertail Books announced that it was publishing Lawrence Wright’s epic history of Scientology, Going Clear, in Great Britain, three years after it first came out in the US. Silvertail is the publisher for our book, and its proprietor, Humfrey Hunter, has also published books about Scientology by John Sweeney, Steve Cannane, Russell Miller, and Ron Miscavige.
On March 3, we brought you the latest filing by Scientology’s attorney Bert Deixler in Laura DeCrescenzo’s 7-year lawsuit against the church for the abuse she suffered in the Sea Org, including being worked 90-hour weeks as a 12-year-old and being forced to have an abortion at 17. We’ve been covering this lawsuit for five years now, and we’ve noticed that Scientology’s court documents continue to get more blatantly aggressive as time has gone on. In this last filing before a summary judgment hearing, Deixler said that it doesn’t matter how badly Scientology treated a 12 year old child as long as, at the time, she didn’t consider it abuse. Amazing!
In the follow-up to a previous story, we brought you more detail in the death of Tabatha Fauteux, a 26-year-old New Hampshire woman who died of a heroin overdose while she was in Los Angeles getting counselor training for Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon. The new information came from her boyfriend, who found Tabatha’s lifeless body in a fancy apartment where Scientology was putting them up during their training. The death of Tabatha Fauteux and its connection to Scientology is one of those stories that, amazingly, you’ve only read about here at the Underground Bunker.
Over the years, we’ve had to deal with some pathetic attempts to disrupt our work which tends to come with covering this subject. Normally, we don’t bring attention to it. But when we made a recent trip to Los Angeles and Scientology’s Freedom magazine let us know they’d been tailing us while we were with our mother — and in the slimiest way possible — we figured it was worth making a note of it for posterity.
On March 11, we posted the surprising news that in Belgium, a prosecution of Scientology for fraud that had taken 17 years to come to court was thrown out because the prosecutor had made a hash of it. Thankfully, our man in Europe, British journalist Jonny Jacobsen, was on the scene to help us put things in perspective. Despite the cock up, the case still yielded a lot of interesting testimony, which Jonny had covered extensively elsewhere.
It was in March when we learned what the title of Ron Miscavige’s memoir would be. Previously, its working title had been “If he dies, he dies” (which we liked a lot). But it would now be coming out in May with the name Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me.
On March 19, we published another of our favorite feature stories of the year, the odd and troubling saga of Skip Young. At one point, Skip had been a San Diego police officer who was secretly also a Scientologist that the church relied on for some of its spying operations. He even provided a footnote to the Snow White Program which we found fascinating. But years later, Skip had wandered away from the church and then found himself in the same position as so many, cut off from his own children, who “disconnected” from him in the Scientology way. He’s still trying to get them back into his life.
Two days later, we interviewed attorney Ray Jeffrey, who was at some liberty to talk after he’d been fired by Monique Rathbun the month before. Despite how he’d been treated, he was still firmly of the belief that Monique deserved justice for the years of harassment she’d endured. “She didn’t deserve any of what they put her through, and they should pay for it,” he said.
On March 25, we showed you a nastygram that was sent by one of Scientology’s attorneys to Jonathan Little, a lawyer who maintains the website narcononlawsuits.com, which gives information to former patients who are thinking of suing Scientology’s drug rehab network. Despite that threat of litigation, the website hasn’t gone anywhere.
A LOOK BACK AT MARCH 2015: Federal Judge James Whittemore hamstrung the Garcia fraud lawsuit with a stunning ruling, we dug up even more evidence that L. Ron Hubbard used the threat of “R2-45” to intimidate former church members, Paul Haggis gave us his thoughts as Alex Gibney’s Going Clear debuted on HBO, and we got to hear Sylvia DeWall being declared an SP while it was happening,
A LOOK BACK AT MARCH 2014: John Travolta mangled Idina Menzel’s name at the Oscars. We interviewed Russell Miller as his book Bare-Faced Messiah came back in print after 27 years. Jillian Schlesinger told us her gripping story of escape from the Sea Org.
The Inquisitr isn’t very inquisitive
We should probably expect more of this kind of thing with Leah Remini helping to make Scientology’s controversies more visible than ever. We don’t want to make too much of this really uninformed editorial over at the always confused Inquisitr, but we do want to point out something.
In 21 years of investigating and writing about Scientology, we have not once — not once — heard from a critic of the church that they want Scientology “banned.” This is a completely mistaken and ignorant suggestion by the Inquisitr writer. And he completely ignores the one thing most critics do want to see done — for the IRS to rescind Scientology’s tax exempt status.
Scientology is in violation of the 1993 agreement it signed with the IRS every day of the week. But getting the IRS to do something about it is a monumental task, and even with Leah Remini’s efforts, may still be out of reach.
In the meantime, there are plenty of other things the government might get interested in, such as looking at the way Scientology is bringing in foreign workers, how Scientology is defrauding church members financially, and the way Scientology is using child labor.
Here in the Underground Bunker, it isn’t our job to get the government to do those things, we’re going to keep reporting on what happens either way. But it sure is discouraging to see a media outlet say that there’s nothing to be done based on such a misunderstanding of the situation.
Bonus items from our tipsters
Gift ideas, everyone?
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated 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 L.A. 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
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield