Cult expert Steve Hassan let the cat out of the bag last night, saying at his Facebook page that he’s one of three guests on this week’s “Reddit AMA” special episode of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath which is airing on A&E Tuesday at 10 pm. We can tell you who the other two guests are as well.
Remini did a previous Reddit special episode where she took questions from the website, but also used the occasion to bring on Paulette Cooper, Chris Shelton, Karen de la Carriere and Jeffrey Augustine. All of them are very familiar faces here at the Underground Bunker, and they did a superb job helping Leah explore areas that hadn’t been covered in her other episodes.
This time she has a really intriguing slate of special guests. Besides Hassan, she’s invited a powerful duo from Texas: author Lawrence Wright and attorney Ray Jeffrey.
Wright, of course, is the Austin journalist who penned “The Apostate,” an amazing 25,000-word New Yorker magazine feature in February 2011 about director Paul Haggis and his defection from Scientology. Wright subsequently turned that article into his book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, which was released in January 2013. And two years after that, Alex Gibney used Wright’s book as a basis for his documentary film version, also titled Going Clear, which HBO premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2015 before airing it on the network that March, becoming the most-watched HBO documentary in a decade and the winner of three Emmy awards. (And full disclosure, we appeared in the film.)
Including attorney Ray Jeffrey in Tuesday night’s episode, meanwhile, is a very interesting decision for Leah Remini and Mike Rinder to make. Jeffrey, a former local Texas mayor, first became familiar to us when he was hired as defense counsel for Debbie Cook, who was sued by the Church of Scientology for an email she sent out on New Year’s Day 2012.
By merely daring to criticize Scientology leader David Miscavige, Cook was sued for violating the terms of draconian contracts she had signed when she left the church’s hardcore “Sea Org.” We were in a San Antonio courtroom in February 2012 watching as Ray Jeffrey argued in a preliminary hearing that Cook had signed those contracts under duress, and he wanted to put Debbie on the stand to talk about the abuse she had been through before she had signed the draconian agreements. Scientology objected, but Judge Martha Tanner said she wanted to hear from Debbie.
Guided by Ray’s questioning, Debbie’s testimony was devastating. She described horrific conditions in a prison called “The Hole” that Miscavige had created for his top executives at Scientology’s International Base near Hemet, California. The next day, Scientology’s attorneys waived the rest of the hearing. And weeks later, they settled the case, paying millions, we think, to Debbie Cook to end the lawsuit that Scientology had actually started.
Later that year, Ray Jeffrey was back. This time he represented two former Scientology private investigators, Paul Marrick and Greg Arnold, who were suing the church over breach of contract. The two were former police officers who had been hired in 1988 to follow one man, Pat Broeker, for the church. They said they had been told that they had jobs for life. And for the next 24 years, that appeared to be the case as they followed Broeker no matter where he went, even for a time to the Czech Republic. But then, when the man who had originally hired them, former top church enforcer Mark “Marty” Rathbun, defected in 2004 and then began to speak publicly in 2009, he obliquely mentioned the Marrick and Arnold operation in a press article. The two private eyes said things noticeably changed after that, and then they were fired in 2012. So they decided to take the church to court.
Jeffrey arranged for the two former Scientology spies to give interviews — to us, and to the guys at the Tampa Bay Times — and after just a day of interviews Ray heard from the church that they were ready to talk settlement. Again, we can only guess at the amount that Ray secured for his clients, but we’re figuring it was probably in the seven figures.
Now on a pretty amazing winning streak, Ray next took on his biggest project yet, representing Monique Rathbun, Marty’s wife, as she filed a harassment suit against the church in August 2013. For the next three years, Ray and his team — Marc Wiegand, Elliott Cappuccio, and Leslie Hyman — fended off a ferocious legal onslaught from Scientology’s small army of lawyers. Ray’s team survived a disqualification motion by the church, and also knocked down an anti-SLAPP motion that was then confirmed on appeal. And after those three years, our legal experts told us, the case was poised to begin causing Scientology serious pain and might even have put church leader David Miscavige in the witness chair.
And then, mysteriously, in January 2016, Monique Rathbun fired her entire legal team, and badmouthed them in the process, accusing them of things that Jeffrey denied. A few months later, she dropped the case entirely and again blamed Ray Jeffrey and his colleagues for inadequately representing her in a case that they were actually winning by any objective standard. Meanwhile, Marty Rathbun, whose blog had, from 2009 to early 2014, been a powerful and constant source of criticism of David Miscavige’s leadership of the Church of Scientology, went quiet about David Miscavige’s shortcomings. And last year, in September Rathbun began defending Miscavige as he tore into Ruthless, the memoir penned by David’s father, Ron Miscavige. And less than a week later, Rathbun wrote another screed, this time in what looked like a heavy-handed attempt to sabotage Louis Theroux’s film, My Scientology Movie, which was about to open in theaters in Australia.
Since then, Rathbun has gone completely silent about Scientology, and has begun to write about politics. It didn’t really surprise us, then, that Marty — who was once such a powerful symbol of the rebellion against David Miscavige’s leadership — did not show up in any of Leah Remini’s episodes (though she does list him in end credits among those she thanks as people who came before her to criticize the church).
We received a lot of questions from readers about that. Why wasn’t Marty in the show? And we understood where people were coming from. If they hadn’t read his blog in a while, it’s understandable why they might be mystified not to see Rathbun in a project that so obviously had come in a straight line from the 2009 Tampa Bay Times “Truth Rundown” series through Gibney’s Going Clear. If you put it in that context, it does seem bizarre that Rathbun is not involved.
And now, Leah Remini and Mike Rinder have put on their latest show the attorney the Rathbuns badmouthed so roundly last year — Monique in official court papers, and Marty at his blog, where he referred to Ray Jeffrey as a “bottom-feeder.”
We have a feeling that’s not how Ray is going to come off Tuesday night on Scientology and the Aftermath.
One of our readers in Tampa — Chukicita — saw a Scientology ad last night during the Seattle-Atlanta NFC divisional playoff game. What Chukicita saw was a version of an ad that Scientology posted a week ago to its YouTube channel.
But we don’t think that’s the ad that will play during the Super Bowl itself.
If you remember, on New Year’s Eve, we posted leaked audio of Scientology’s New Year’s event that was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Near the end of the event, David Miscavige can be heard announcing that he would play for the audience their Super Bowl ad of 2017.
What we could hear then sounded very similar to the Apple-like ads of the past few years, and here was the voiceover narration of it…
There are words to describe every step we take
Words for the joy
And the sorrow
And the triumphs
The defeat that pushes us into the shadows
And the inspiration that brings us back
But through all of life’s journey
There’s no language adequate to describe
The ultimate heights you can attain…
Your full potential
We figure that means the title of the ad will be “Your Full Potential,” and Scientology does not appear to have posted it yet. But they may begin airing it soon — perhaps during one of tonight’s playoff games or next week’s championship games.
Let us know if you see it!
June will be here before you know it
HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25. Go here to start making your plans.
[Thank you, Observer.]
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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.
The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)
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