Quailynn McDaniel was exactly what Scientology was looking for. The yoga instructor was fit and pretty, and her husband worked for a major software firm.
They had children. They were well liked. And they had money.
And that’s how she became one of the people chosen for a special role in the odd church that caters to the wealthy and famous.
“I was their ideal candidate to entertain celebrity families,” she says.
Now, after some 20 years as a member of the Church of Scientology, McDaniel and her husband have been cast out, their families ripped apart. And the celebrities too, have disconnected from them.
Still reeling from her recent departure, McDaniel, 43, agreed to tell us about her entire journey into and out of Scientology, and in particular about her years in a special role that we haven’t seen in this much detail before: The Scientologists whose place it is to pamper and protect the church’s most precious product, its celebrity endorsers.
Originally from Redmond, Washington, Quailynn Panek was just 19 and starting at the University of Washington when she met Paul McDaniel at a Lollapalooza concert in the summer of 1992. They started dating, and she soon learned that Paul had grown up in the Church of Scientology.
“I knew nothing about it,” she tells us. “I couldn’t decide if they were health nuts or scientists. What the hell are you talking about, I thought.”
Quailynn’s parents had a family restaurant in Kirkland, and they weren’t happy that she moved in with Paul at such an early age. And things for the couple weren’t smooth at the start. Paul’s parents suggested to her that she take a Life Improvement Class at the local Scientology org, and go through the “Purification Rundown” — a sauna-and-vitamins regimen.
“I was into yoga, and I was fit. So I thought, why not do the Purif.”
Despite that rough start to their relationship, Quailynn and Paul got married and began to have children. Meanwhile, her parents broke up and her teenage brother Sean was having a hard time of it. He moved in with Quailynn and Paul for a time, and then served in the Marines. “I would send him care packages weekly on the ships or in the Middle East, enough for his whole platoon. Paul flew out to meet him on a destroyer and sailed back from Hawaii to San Diego. They were as close as brothers,” she says.
Quailynn and Paul ended up having four children, all daughters, and she asked her younger sister, Azurelynn, a student at the University of San Diego at the time, if she wanted to take a gap year and help with the children. And it was while her sister was living with her that everything changed.
“The Flag ‘World Tour’ came to town,” Quailynn says. “In a series of meetings with the Scientology ‘registrars,’ we were convinced to sell everything and move to Florida to the ‘Flag Land Base,’ with all of our children and my mother and sister.” For the McDaniels, it was a huge move up the Scientology ladder as they relocated in 1997 to Scientology’s “spiritual mecca” in the Gulf Coast town of Clearwater.
After they arrived, Quailynn’s sister joined Scientology’s Sea Organization, signing its billion-year contract, and was soon transferred to Int Base, the secretive international management headquarters near Hemet, California where Scientology leader David Miscavige makes his home.
For Quailynn and her mother, it was a proud moment and a sign that their family was quickly moving up the ladder of importance in the church. “We bought an incredible mansion in the Harbor Oaks neighborhood of Clearwater and we were screaming up the Bridge as well as the social ladder of Scientology,” Quailynn says. “Our donations were also flowing heavily at the time. We were the ‘It’ family. Paul and I both did all of our L’s [expensive upper-level courses], our kids were at Delphi [a private Scientology school]. Life could not have been better. We were Key Contributors to the Super Power Building at $100,000, we were IAS Patrons with Honors at another $100,000, we were giving to the planetary dissemination project, the ASI projects, and more.”
Besides “flowing” money to Scientology, the McDaniel family was also heavily invested in its social scene. They had no friends who weren’t Scientologists, Quailynn says. And their lives revolved around whatever was happening at the base at the time.
They took part, for example, when several thousand Scientologists turned out for a December 1997 demonstration against the local police chief, Sid Klein.
“We chanted, ‘Sid Klein, what’s your crime?’ with everyone else. It was about the Lisa McPherson case. We met other young Scientologists who were living in Clearwater at that demonstration,” she remembers.
McPherson was a Dallas Scientologist who had moved to Clearwater and then had experienced serious emotional problems while she was being “case supervised” by the leader of Scientology, David Miscavige. As we explained in our series about McPherson, it was potentially very embarrassing to Miscavige that a student he had guided personally would exhibit emotional problems, especially after, in the summer of 1995, he had declared her a “Clear,” someone who should have supreme self-control. In November, McPherson had a mental breakdown after a minor car accident and she was taken to a nearby hospital. Scientologists took her away from the hospital, saying they would care for her, and she was confined to the Fort Harrison Hotel, Scientology’s most important spiritual site. Seventeen days later, she died while Scientologists were rushing her to a hospital.
Lisa McPherson’s death didn’t become public news for another year, but by 1997 the Church of Scientology was being investigated for criminal charges over the incident, and the church decided to strike back by demonstrating against the local police chief, who had years earlier investigated the church.
One of the young Scientologists Quailynn says she met at the demonstration that day was Uri Minkoff, who soon became a close family friend.
We told her it struck us as somewhat ironic that she met Uri at a demonstration about Lisa McPherson, and she said she understood completely. It was Uri’s father, Dr. David Minkoff, a physician and Church of Scientology member, who was partly implicated in McPherson’s death. Minkoff had his medical license suspended for a year after it emerged that he had prescribed a sedative for McPherson at the request of the Scientologists caring for her at the hotel, even though he never actually examined her. If he had, perhaps he might have seen how bad her condition became. When Scientologists finally rushed McPherson from the hotel when it became clear that her condition was grave, they headed to the facility where Minkoff worked, bypassing closer hospitals, when she died along the way.
“We met at the rally, and we started hanging out with Uri and his family and we became patients at the family clinic,” Quailynn says. They also became friends with Uri’s sister, Rebecca Minkoff, who is known for the handbags she designs.
We asked Quailynn if Uri told her about the McPherson case. “Uri said that his dad had screwed up, and that his dad was in deep, deep trouble with the church,” she says. “Uri said his dad had put the church in real jeopardy, and was trying to get back into good standing.”
Through the Minkoffs, the McDaniels became absorbed in a large group of elite Scientologists in their 20s who lived in the Clearwater area. And through the Minkoffs, they also met their first celebrity couple, Jenna and Bodhi Elfman.
[Jenna and Bodhi Elfman at the 2000 Battlefield Earth premiere.]
Bodhi Elfman had grown up in Scientology through his father, Richard Elfman, one of the founding members of a 1970s circus-and-music act known as the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. In a previous story we reported that Spanky Taylor said she used to book dates for the act, which she characterized as a Scientology front that was used to reach college kids. Later, Richard turned over the act to his younger brother, Danny Elfman, who was not a Scientologist, and Oingo Boingo became known as a rock band without Scientology baggage.
In 1995, Bodhi married Jennifer Butala, who also became a Scientologist as well as a successful actress, known for her role as Dharma Freedom Finkelstein Montgomery in the 1997-2002 TV series Dharma and Greg.
“They were goofy and fun. They are so silly, it was just great to be around them,” Quailynn says.
“In Scientology they really feed your ego. You’re not a wog [a non-Scientologist], you’re special and better than normal humans,” Quailynn says. “We formed this elite group of friends. Jenna was working on Dharma and Greg at the time, and Bodhi was on course at Flag. So we would fly back and forth between Los Angeles and Clearwater with Bodhi. We even came up with a name for it, ‘Club Elite.’ And we had ‘Charlie Echo’ T-shirts made up. We went everywhere together — Paul and me, Bodhi and Jenna, and Uri Minkoff.
And part of being in the club was being judgmental of those on the outside.
“When I was on the set of Dharma and Greg one time with Jenna, she went off on Molly Ringwald,” Quailynn remembers. “Jenna said Molly is an SP [Suppressive Person, Scientology’s label for an enemy of the church] because of her lack of interest in Scientology. They had some kind of confrontation over Scientology on set and Jenna hated her ever since. Jenna said she was helping me out by letting me know that Molly was an SP.”
Speaking of Jenna’s ire, we asked Quailynn if she had ever talked to Jenna about her infamous 2006 incident, in which she was accused of yelling “What crimes have you committed? Have you raped a baby?” at a guy who was wearing a T-shirt that made fun of Scientology, and specifically Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
“No! I tried to avoid her wrath,” Quailynn says. “When a celeb gets mad at you they bring the full force of the church behind them,” she added. And she saw many cases where the church would do what it took to keep the celebrities happy.
“Do you remember when Jenna bought Madonna’s house in Los Angeles? When I was there Gold came over to wire the house for her,” Quailynn says, referring to Sea Org workers from Gold Base, another name for Int Base, the international management compound near Hemet, California. “The church sent their sound technicians to do this. At the time I didn’t think anything of it. But in hindsight, I realized that the church sent their employees, who are not able to accept gifts, to wire Jenna’s new house for audio and visual,” Quailynn remembers. “And she’s not even that big of a celebrity. Like seriously. The house apparently had too much of an old musty smell for Bodhi to live in it, so they built the new house where they now live.”
As they spent time with the Elfmans on Hollywood sets and at nightclubs, the McDaniels began to interact with other Scientology celebrities as well. “Kirstie Alley lived across the street from Jenna in the Hollywood Hills. So our kids and hers started hanging out.”
It was Bodhi, Quailynn says, who first introduced her to Tom Cruise in 2001 or 2002.
“Bodhi took me over to Tom Cruise’s house when he was dating Penelope Cruz. We went out to dinner — Tom, Penelope, Bodhi, and Jenna. They were talking about Scientology all night, trying to get Penelope on board,” she says. “They were trying to make Penelope comfortable with it, but it didn’t work.”
While she and her husband were hanging out with celebrities, their children were also being used as celebrity handlers, Quailynn says.
“They were used as handlers for Tom’s kids, Kirstie Alley’s kids, and also with John Travolta’s kids,” she says. “Kirstie rented a house down from ours in Clearwater. She would throw these wild parties. When Kirstie was on base and on course, they would call on us to keep her kids busy. Somebody was always needed to entertain the celebrity kids so the adults could focus on course.
“Our kids are still friends with Tom’s kids. We’d all go to the water park together when he was in town. When Tom was at Flag for services, on the weekend he’d rent out a water park and we’d have the place to ourselves,” she remembers.
“My youngest daughter and John’s daughter Ella Bleu were best friends. When John was on the base, I’d be called on to do things with his family.”
And one event in the year 2000 stands out in particular, she says. “I was at the premiere of Battlefield Earth, on the red carpet with these guys,” she says. “Jenna, Bodhi, Paul and I went to the premiere. We walked down the red carpet at the Chinese Theater. We got our free popcorn and watched that movie, in shock. The movie was such shit. Then at the after-party at the Author Services building, we went up to the private lounge. Bodhi said he wanted to introduce me to John Travolta. I was so excited, but I just asked him about how fun the set of Grease was to work on. I couldn’t even bring myself to kiss his ass at ASI with all the church execs after the movie. Everyone else kissed his ass for me.”
When Travolta made trips to the Flag Land Base for courses, Quailynn was sometimes called upon to help accommodate him. During one visit, she arranged for him to be given the use of a lavish home nearby.
“It was a huge mansion. My friend owned it. I got her to give him use of the mansion, free of charge. And we had to get the groundskeeper and the housekeeper on board, because Travolta is up all night and sleeps all day. So they had to black out every window in the house so he could sleep all day. And there were problems with Jett climbing the walls. They stayed there for a couple of weeks while John was getting serviced at the base. But it was very complicated and they never went back there again.”
Helping with the celebrities and their children “was very enchanting, for a while,” she says. It might be something as simple as making snacks for Bodhi Elfman when he wanted to get away from course work at the base for a while.
And she also got involved in the courses with celebrities as well. Quailynn says she would get “twinned” with celebrities to help them get through Scientology courses, particularly the ones involving drills with the E-meter, which are long and repetitive.
“The [Celebrity Centre] president’s office finds a good student they can trust to tutor a celebrity through the course. It’s the president’s office that specifically handles VIPs. I was working with the president’s office at Flag, and I was used as a personal tutor to help celebrities like Bodhi, Catherine Bell, and June Zwan,” Quailynn says. “I didn’t tutor Jenna on course. I was just her really close friend.”
We asked her to give us some specifics on what kind of tutoring she was doing with, say, actress Catherine Bell. How did that actually work?
“Date-locate was a tough drill that I was particularly good at getting people through,” she says. “That’s where you use the E-meter to exactly pinpoint a date on one of your past lives, down to the second, in order to blow the charge and release your stuck attention. It starts with ‘orders of magnitude.’ It goes like this,” she says.
“The person with the date is silent while the assessment is done. I’d ask, Was the date billions of years ago? Millions of years ago? Thousands of years ago? Until you get a read on one,” she says, referring to the needle on the E-meter’s dial reacting. “Then you’d check that read with the person verbally. You’d write the date down on a hidden piece of paper. Once you get the order of magnitude, you keep checking down numbers until you get it to the second. This drill had to be successfully completed three times for a pass.”
As a particularly notable example of this kind of precision that Scientologists believe they are capable of with the use of the E-meter, L. Ron Hubbard claimed that in a past life he had visited heaven twice, and his first visit had occurred “43,891,832,611,177 years, 344 days, 10 hours, 20 minutes and 40 seconds from 10:02½ PM Daylight Greenwich Time May 9, 1963.” Such was the kind of thing Quailynn was helping celebrities determine.
“Catherine did the drill quickly and efficiently with no problem at all. She was a proficient student. Bodhi, on the other hand, needed endless special treatment. Like naps, special food, a special table in the course room. Jenna was tons of drama as well, crying and storming out of the course room, all kinds of antics. Catherine was just super fast and smooth, very easy to get along with,” Quailynn remembers.
The point of these exercises, she says, was to prepare these celebrities to use the E-meter alone on “solo-auditing,” which is done to chase off unseen entities attached to their bodies, known as “body thetans.” Scientologists learn the existence of these entities when they go through the level known as “OT 3,” and they continue to chase off body thetans through the next several levels, at tens of thousands of dollars each.
“On OT 7 you find out that you have thousands upon thousands of these body thetans stuck to you that are dormant. You are the only one who can wake them up and get them to leave. There are far too many for a professional auditor to handle them all. So you train up on OT 6. The entire OT 6 is to train you so you can audit yourself solo on OT 7. So I trained these celebrities so they could use the meter to audit themselves at home.”
During all this time that she was helping these celebrities doing those metering exercises, did they ever remark on the bizarre idea of chasing away invisible body thetans?
“Not at all. God forbid you ever even had such a thought. Remember, we were using the meter constantly on each other, which is basically like a lie detector. It reads on your thoughts, we believed. If we even thought something bad, we would find ourselves in Ethics. That’s scary shit. I mean, it’s nuts. You get your ass handed to you if you even think something critical, much less mention it.”
In other words, although there were special auditing rooms, and special staff that catered to celebrities to keep them away from the non-celebrities, the vaunted actors and actresses and other wealthy VIPs were still doing the actual (and bizarre) coursework of upper-level Scientology, and they were subject to the same harrowing ethics rules that require brutal interrogations and huge expenditures.
The celebrities, she assured us, are true believers.
Quailynn says she got a surprise from Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis after she and Paul went to New Orleans for a short vacation.
“This was before Katrina. We went down there and we went to the bars,” she says. “When we got back, Tommy Davis told us that because we had gone to New Orleans and spent time in the clubs, we didn’t qualify anymore to spend time with Tom Cruise. Tom was so ‘pure’ he had never even been to a strip club, Tommy said. And he seemed to believe it,” she says. “By going to New Orleans, we had tainted ourselves.”
In a meeting held at the Sandcastle Hotel, part of the Flag base, Quailynn and her husband were told how they could make up the damage.
“They wanted us to open up a Scientology mission in Hyde Park, in Tampa. Which I did do. We probably spent $100,000. With a friend we bought the ‘mission package,’ and they gave it to me to run it.”
Scientology missions are satellite offices that are intended to bring new people into the organization and begin them up the “Bridge to Total Freedom” with some introductory courses. Mission holders are paid commissions on the people they bring in and then ultimately send to the larger “orgs,” where the more expensive courses are given. Quailynn says she ran her mission for about a year with a staff of three before her employees were recruited away by the larger Tampa org. “I was left with an empty building and books and with no one to run it. I cleared everything out and put the books in storage,” she says, and she explains to us how dicey that situation was when she shuttered the place, in 2006. “The fact that I had closed a mission? It was enough to get me declared.”
If the church decided to declare Quailynn a “suppressive person” — an enemy of the church — every other Scientologist who wanted to remain in good standing would have to “disconnect” from her, including the members of her own family. But she managed to avoid that fate, at least at that point.
“I just stuck up for myself. I had four kids, and I was on course, my hands were full, I told them. They backed down, but it haunted me for a long time,” she says. “As late as 2009 the Tampa org said they were going to start an ethics action on us because I’d shut down a mission.”
She could certainly claim to be dedicated to her coursework. On vacations, for example, she would take her Scientology work with her, trying never to fall behind. She told us about a remarkable example of that.
After his discharge from the Marines, Quailynn’s younger brother Sean had joined Oregon’s forestry fire service. “He was lonely. He came down to live with me in Florida,” she says. Her husband Paul was developing software for mobile phones in Texas, and he would fly back to Florida every other day so he could keep up on his own Scientology coursework at Flag. While Paul was flying back and forth, Quailynn and her brother decided to take a memorable driving trip to Maine, picking up more friends in New York along the way. “I was auditing on OT 7 at the time, which posed a minor concern for me. I solo audited in hotel bathrooms, and even once in an abandoned caboose while Sean watched the kids. We were managing six kids under the age of 14 together. The trip lasted five weeks,” she says.
Sean later had a chance to join the forestry fire service in Florida, but instead he joined the Scientology org staff in Tampa. In 2006, he married a Scientologist.
And around that time, Quailynn says, things really started to change for her in Scientology.
“David Miscavige really started to escalate the regging,” she says, using a Scientology term for the way “registrars” put pressure on members to make donations and pay ahead of time for expensive levels. “And the Ethics department began heavily sec-checking Paul and then pitting the two of us against each other.”
Security checking is a form of brutal interrogations that Scientologists regularly endure. A Scientologist is put on the E-meter — which they believe can read their thoughts — and has to answer questions for hours over several days about their most intimate private lives as a way to check their loyalty to the church.
“The Basics packages were coming out, and they were telling us we had to come up with $80,000 for it. And they would keep you in the ethics office until you came up with it,” she says. Everyone was being turned into hard-sell shock troops for the new set of books and recorded lectures coming out in 2007 and every Scientologist was expected to buy at about $3,000 a set. Adding to the surreality of it was that the L. Ron Hubbard books and lectures in the new “Basics” set were ones that most longtime Scientologists already had copies of. But Scientology leader David Miscavige had issued a new printing of them, and he claimed that each book had been improved after finding “transcription errors” in the originals. For many Scientologists, even their heavy conditioning didn’t prevent them from seeing it as a cynical cash grab by Miscavige.
“It was so disenchanting. Everywhere you turned, you were getting beat up,” Quailynn says. “And they would question us separately and tried to get us against each other as a way to leverage money from us. You’d be locked in a room with people screaming at you. Your MAA [Master-at-Arms, an ethics officer], your auditor, your case supervisor. And they would know how much room you had left on your credit card limits and they would ask for it. I still don’t know how they got that information,” she says.
In 2007, feeling more and more disillusioned by the Basics push, the McDaniels decided to leave Flag and move back to Seattle. “We were focusing more on our careers and our kids, and less on Scientology and the celebrities,” Quailynn says. “We sold everything. And we said goodbye to my brother Sean and his wife, and off we went.”
Still, they remained very close to the Elfmans, and in 2007, they were with Jenna and Bodhi as the celebrity couple had their first child.
Quailynn shared with us a photo of the four of them together, with Jenna very pregnant, as they prepared for the big day.
The McDaniels were with the Elfmans in the hospital as their son was born. To prove to us how close they were, Quailynn showed us a photo of Bodhi as he met his newborn son for the first time in the hospital — but we’re not going to show it out of respect for the little boy’s privacy.
We can show you the balloon arrangement that David Miscavige sent to the hospital that day.
By 2009, Quailynn had finally completed one of Scientology’s most difficult courses to finish, OT 7. It can take years to complete, and it’s very expensive — a typical member may spend $50,000 to $75,000 to get through it.
Her husband Paul was still stalled on OT 7, but now that they were back in Seattle, he was focused on his work at a software company. He encouraged her to spend the money to take the next step, OT 8, while he continued to focus on his career.
OT 8, the highest level on Scientology’s “Bridge to Total Freedom,” is available only in one place — on the private cruise ship the Freewinds, which Scientology operates in the Caribbean.
But getting there was only the beginning. You can’t begin a new level until you pass through a series of security checks, looking for any reason why you might not be ready to take on the new material. Before even going to the ship, Quailynn had to get through eight “intensives” of the False Purpose Rundown, a difficult interrogation that involves hundreds of questions asked repeatedly. Auditing and sec checking is sold in 12.5-hour packages called “intensives.” (Yes, Scientologists pay to be interrogated.) And intensives at this level cost about $10,000 each.
“On the ship, I had to do another intensive of sec checking. Then they gave me a tailored False Purpose Rundown, which I got through. Then they needed to recheck 400 confessional questions. And by then, I had used up all my money,” she says. “Three more days were spent reading my husband Paul’s ethics folders to review how bad he was.”
Repeatedly, she says, Scientology officials told her that her best course of action would be to divorce Paul and get control of his money. She refused. “And then, they told me I need more sec checking. I went to my room and I didn’t know what to think. I needed to ask Paul for another $10,000 for an additional intensive of sec checks.”
And while she was being hit up for more sec checking, she was still being hit up for more donations.
“They said to me, ‘We see that your husband has a retirement fund.’ They somehow knew that it had $250,000 in it, and they wanted me to donate that. I thought, what, you want me to steal from my husband to give to you?”
It was too much, she says. “I lost my shit. All of a sudden, I had this moment of clarity — it was all about the money, it wasn’t about my well-being.”
After some 17 years in Scientology, Quailynn suddenly and immediately had a realization: She was done. “I cried the whole night as my world fell apart. I knew there was no way out. Security held my passport, the boat was docked in Cartagena, Colombia and was protected by multiple armed guards. I thought of throwing my suitcase overboard and swimming to shore. I knew I could lose everything: my husband, my kids, the house, all my friends and family,” she says. “So I decided to lie.”
Quailynn composed herself, and told the ethics officers that she was on board with their plan. “I told them I had to go home to get that money. I said I’d get the money and come back. And I was convincing enough that they let me go.”
She flew home, but by the time she got there, things were all wrong.
“I don’t know what happened while I was gone. Paul was so mad at me, he wouldn’t pick me up at the airport,” she says. While she had been on the ship, her husband had moved out of the house and had taken their children with him.
“He told my mom that we were divorcing. I don’t know what the church had been telling him while I was gone, but they had tried to break us up numerous times.”
It was part of the Scientology method: To gain leverage over a member, you pitted them against their own loved ones. Divide, conquer, and cash in the savings account.
“What we’re realizing now is that Scientology is a really dangerous addiction. But it took us a few years to figure it out.”
Quailynn says she managed to convince her husband that he had been lied to, and that they should stay together. And like many other Scientologists who have that moment of clarity and see it for what it is, her new frame of mind didn’t immediately turn into action. She pulled back from Scientology, but not enough to raise many red flags. She couldn’t risk her relationship with Paul and her daughters by rebelling openly against the church.
Over the next four years, from 2009 to 2013, they still made trips from Seattle to Clearwater, and they still interacted with the celebrities. “But it was waning,” she says.
And then, on Valentine’s Day 2013, they were in Zurich for a vacation. On the way, Quailynn had spotted a copy of Lawrence Wright’s new book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief for sale in an airport newsstand and picked it up.
“Valentine’s night in Zurich it was snowing and we stayed in and read that book.” The lengthy history of Scientology recounted its founding by L. Ron Hubbard, but also things about its current celebrities, and Scientology’s obsession with Hollywood — things that Quailynn and Paul had experienced for themselves.
“After we had read it, Paul said to me, ‘This is all true.’ And he said, ‘OK. I’m out.’ And that’s when I knew I really had my marriage back.”
But leaving Scientology is not easy. Not when you were at one time the ‘It’ couple, and you had connections that were so close to Scientology’s celebrities. Paul and Quailynn were finally, truly, done with Scientology. But now things were going to get ugly.
By the time the McDaniels had their night with Going Clear in 2013, their Scientology friends had been spying on them and submitting reports about them for nearly four years.
Such documents are called “Knowledge Reports” in Scientology. In 2009, a friend of Paul’s had submitted one, telling the Ethics officers at Scientology what he could ascertain about Paul and Quailynn’s attitudes about their progress on the upper levels of the Bridge through conversations with Paul.
He reported that Paul worried about Quailynn going to the ship to do OT 8 because, according to the friend, Paul worried that Quailynn “wouldn’t be fun anymore.”
(Scientologists believe if they can finish the entire Bridge, including OT 8, they will have the power to leave their bodies at will, and have control over matter, energy, space, and time with just the power of their minds.)
Two days later, another friend submitted a Knowledge Report, dishing on what she’d seen when she had spent time with Quailynn during a business trip to New York. She thought Quailynn had gotten too friendly with a British man they had met in a nightclub, and it shocked her that when they got home, Paul seemed to encourage the flirtation.
It was just the first of several Knowledge Reports submitted over the next four years by friends who suggested that the McDaniels were drinking too much, partying too often, and spending suspicious amounts of time with other attractive young people. One of the Knowledge Report writers, a business associate of Paul’s, called their parents, who were also concerned that the McDaniels seemed to be carrying on in a scandalous fashion.
“In Scientology there’s no alcohol. So when we started drinking wine after leaving, other people we knew weren’t used to seeing it,” Quailynn tells us. “We were meeting new people, making new friends, socializing outside the church and doing things that normal people do. But it was shocking for some people still in church, and to Paul’s parents. But no one ever came to us and said, we’re worried about you. No one ever asked, are you OK? Instead, they called each other, wrote these KRs, and that’s what got us comm ev’d.”
And then, in 2013, Paul committed an overt act that really got them into hot water: He gave a Facebook “like” to a page created by Leah Remini, the actress who that year defected from Scientology.
“Paul liked Leah’s Facebook page, but then he unliked it when he realized it would get him in trouble — that was his big crime,” Quailynn says.
Apparently shocked and saddened that Paul would do such a thing, Bodhi Elfman wrote an email to Paul on September 5, 2013, telling him that their friendship was over.
After some time to think things over, I don’t really think we need another conversation.
Here are my thoughts. You wrote and spoke quite a bit about how you are powers for good, only want to help people and be a good guy. I’m glad you feel this way, though I’m sorry to say your actions are contrary.
You posted on FB in support and gave props to someone who publicly left the Church. Then claimed you don’t really know her or know the scene, yet you did know she’d left the Church. Then posted again that you are in support of “whistle-blowers”, implying that there was cause to “whistle-blow” against the Church. Those posts were against what is stated in the Suppressive Acts policies and against how LRH says to handle one’s disputes.
I would rather not associate with those who support “whistle blowing” or investigations outside of HCO/proper channels, or criticisms of Scientology or with someone who avoids auditing.
I genuinely wish you and your family well and I, with all my heart, hope you go to Flag very soon, get on the cans and find harmony.
This is a private email for you and your wife only. Please respect that.
Until then, let’s please not communicate anymore.
(We emailed Bodhi, asking him to explain the thinking behind this “disconnection” message, that he could so easily turn away from such a longtime and trusted friend. We’ll let you know if he responds.)
After the church had gathered reports for several years, in September 2015 the McDaniels were told to report for Scientology’s version of a sort of court martial, which is called a “committee of evidence,” or “comm ev” for short.
By that time, they knew that they were getting close to being declared suppressive. Two other Scientology couples who were close friends of theirs, Cisco executive Rowan Trollope and his wife Stephanie, and software developer Bill Feeley and his wife Sherri, had been declared SPs, and the McDaniels were being pressured to cut off ties with them.
“In 2015, Paul and I were called in to the Seattle org to read the Trollope and Feeley declare orders,” she says. “But I made it clear that I wasn’t doing to disconnect from any of them.”
As a result, in September, they were told to come down for their own comm ev.
“I got on the phone with the ethics guy who would be doing the comm ev. I told him, ‘I’m not going down there to get mind-fucked by another 18-year-old kid’,” she says.
Instead, Paul went on his own, and was shown the Knowledge Reports that the church had been collecting about them for years. He was allowed to bring some of them back to Quailynn, which is how we got to see them. Others were held back.
Still refusing to disconnect from the Trollopes and the Feeleys, in September 2015 the McDaniels were also declared Suppressive Persons. As a result, her brother Sean, who is still in Clearwater and married to a Scientologist, and Quailynn’s sister Azurelynn, who is still in the Sea Organization, immediately cut off all ties to her, as did members of Paul’s family.
More than a year later, they continue to deal with the fallout of having left the church.
“My mom has lived with me for almost 20 years now. She’s disabled and in pain. My sister, I found out, has been calling my mom and has been trying to arrange her kidnapping to take her to Clearwater because we’re suppressive people,” Quailynn says.
“At one point I pulled the phone away from my mom, and I could hear my sister trying to get her to go to the airport. My sister can’t actually come here to my house because we’re SPs,” she says. “My mom’s terrified. I’ve had to fight private investigators watching us. I’ve had to fight hacking. And now I have to fight a kidnapping?”
It was only recently that Quailynn could bring herself to read the “Knowledge Reports” that Paul had brought home from the comm ev in 2015.
“It was too painful for me. I felt completely betrayed by my brother, my sister, my church friends and business partners. As you can see from the reports all the things written about us were not discussed with us prior to the comm ev. We were just attacked.”
Her friends wrote the reports, she says, because they were being denied entry onto Scientology’s highest level — OT 8 — unless they did so.
“I understood. But I also never did the same thing myself. Instead, I checked out, unwilling to throw my friends and husband under the bus. I’d rather fall from grace myself and accept those consequences,” Quailynn says. “My husband and I are now in therapy. But it’s still hard for us. Really hard. I realize coming out is dangerous. But people have to take a stand. The abuse must end.”
We asked her if there was still a part of her that missed the life of a celebrity handler, when they were the “It” family in Clearwater, and were having play dates at water parks with Tom Cruise, or running e-meter drills with Catherine Bell, or were in the hospital to see the birth of Jenna and Bodhi’s first child.
“Not at all,” she says. “I saw friends of the celebrities destroyed by the church if anything ever went wrong. It was terrifying and yet electrifying at the same time. I just want to live a normal life, do things I actually just enjoy, and learn to be human and raise my daughters to be as successful as they can be and in a rational way.”
She does admit that her husband Paul has found it hard to be separated from his former friends, including Bodhi Elfman.
“He took it harder than I did,” she says.
“We are trying to undo the damage the church caused us. It’s incredibly challenging but with the help we’ve received from other victims banding together, I think we have hope.”
HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25. Go here to start making your plans.
Scientology disconnection, a reminder
Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,672 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,269 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,309 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,021 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 488 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,606 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,776 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,096 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,071 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 427 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,729 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 836 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,238 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,111 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 692 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,197 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,441 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,550 days.
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.
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