We’ve noted in the past that when it came to Leah Remini, Scientology wasn’t following its usual retaliation playbook. After Leah’s defection from the church became public in July 2013, and then she filed a missing person report on Shelly Miscavige (the vanished wife of church leader David Miscavige), and then in 2015 came out with a best-selling book about leaving Scientology titled Troublemaker, frankly, we were pretty surprised that the church limited its response to a few dismissive and catty statements by church spokespeople.
Even after Leah developed a hit series about Scientology at the A&E network this past fall and Scientology finally put up a website dedicated to attacking the people who appeared on her show, the page aimed at Leah herself felt half-hearted, and Leah cooperated with us to take it on pretty effectively.
Meanwhile, at other pages on that same website, people like Mary Kahn and the Reisdorf family were attacked brutally with the usual treatment we’re used to seeing from Scientology, with information dug up by private investigators and videos featuring robotic Scientologists denouncing their own family members.
It’s sick stuff, it’s par for the course for Scientology, and it’s generally completely ineffective. Very few people take Scientology’s smears seriously. But the point of them, Mike Rinder has told us (and he would know, having overseen Scientology’s secret police, the Office of Special Affairs, OSA) is to create a sense of dread in the target so debilitating that they stop their public criticism of the church.
Despite a hit TV show, a best-selling book, and tons of press, Leah Remini had generally escaped that kind of treatment. Until now.
Many of us in the Scientology watching community — ex-Scientologists or not — were recipients yesterday of emails from dummy OSA accounts directing us to the Remini attack site, which now has two new pages attacking Remini herself in the most vicious ways possible.
There’s a page, for example, where you can read salacious details from her husband Angelo Pagan’s court fights with previous wives who included swipes at Leah in their court declarations. But anticipating such attacks, Leah laid out her private life in pretty good detail in her book, Troublemaker. We doubt that people will make much of the fact that her husband’s previous wives didn’t like her. What does that have to do with the allegations she’s making about Scientology in Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath?
But the most surprising attack on Remini that’s been added to the church’s website is a video interview with someone who was once very close to Leah, her friend Stacy Francis, a singer and veteran of numerous talent-show reality TV series, most recently her stint on Celebrity Big Brother in the UK. A sample…
We’re very familiar with Francis. She’s a longtime Scientologist who, for example, sang for Tom Cruise on his 42nd birthday that was held on Scientology’s cruise ship the Freewinds in 2004…
Francis was later the source of controversy when she appeared on what was then Simon Cowell’s new talent show X-Factor promoting the idea that she was an untrained singer who had been held back because she was a victim of domestic violence. That background turned out mostly to be a fabrication, we found out. And based on the reporting we’ve done on her over the years, we know something about how much she was supported by her good friend, Leah Remini.
It was Remini who was in the delivery room as Francis gave birth to her second child after her affair with Bishop Noel Jones, brother of musician Grace Jones, who acknowledged later that he was the little girl’s father. It was Remini, however, who took Francis in and helped her retain a lawyer to obtain child support, and then later helped her move into a good apartment near a charter school where she wanted her children to attend classes.
Meanwhile, Francis has only sometimes admitted that she’s actually a longtime Scientologist. But now that Remini has her second season, Francis answered the call and sat for a video for the attack website. We’re going to provide the entire transcript of the video, as awful as it is, because we think it may get a lot of attention. (Even William Shatner has reacted to the attack website, as you’ll see below.) Here’s what Francis had to say…
She disparages black people. She disparages — she talks, she talks disparagingly about anybody she, she basically feels like she’s the queen of the world, like, I’m the — she’s the star, she has everybody around her kissing her butt, and she just says disparaging things about people all the time.
She called my son a ‘niglet,’ which is like junior, like ‘nigger.’ I had no idea that she was so evil this way, and the stories I started to hear that she would say that I lived in a really dirty home, and she was just talking really negatively and horribly about me to others. And everybody started coming to me and telling me these things and I was devastated. And I didn’t even know that this was how she really felt about me. I could tell, here and there, she would say really nasty things to me, covertly, to me, and we would get into big fights. And, we would fight and make up, fight and make up. It was like I was in an abusive relationship.
She was very antagonistic, all the time. She was very, very intimidating. She could definitely rip into somebody bad, like she definitely had an attitude — I saw her and her husband fight a couple of times and it was like, wow. And then I, you know, of course, we all know that he cheated on her many times, you know, and it’s like, you know, I don’t want to say I could understand how he cheated on her because it’s not OK for anybody to cheat on his wife, but she wasn’t very loving toward him. I never saw them being loving. I always saw her fighting or screaming at him, or snapping at him or being disparaging or, you know, it was just very disgusting how she treated people.
There were moments when that little devil would come out. You know, I remember I went to her house, and they were showing my audition, as a preview for the promotion for X-Factor. And her husband said, that I was going to lose. And they started laughing. You’re not going to win. You’re not going to win the X-Factor so, just get ready for it. And they were laughing. And it was really covert and kind of nasty. And it was kind of like, and it made me feel like somebody threw up on me spiritually, and I was kind of like, wow. And then I started to recount all the times they would say little things like that, little digs. “You’re not going to make it.” I would show her pictures of homes that I liked and she’s like, “Oh, you’ll never own that home. You’ll never own that home, Stacy rent is coming up, you need to go get a waitressing job,” when she would know that I would be going on tour to sing or, you know. So, I started seeing it after the fact, because sometimes you’re so close to it and you’re so in it that you really don’t see how horrible it is until you get completely apart from it. So I don’t miss it. I don’t miss it and I did not want to ever speak her name again. She was completely dead to me.
I pleaded with her and she didn’t even answer me. She’s the one who disconnected from people all the time. She would change her number all the time. Every time, as soon as she got upset with somebody she wouldn’t talk to them anymore. This was her way. This was her modus operandi. So now she’s trying to flip it, to make herself be the victim.
For her to go around and say, oh, you know I’m so devastated, the godmother, I’m the godmother of my friend’s, you know, children, and she disconnected from me and she hurt me. That’s bull.
A friend of mine wanted to go to her restaurant, to have breakfast. Now, someone from out of town who, you know, a public guy, he doesn’t know me, he doesn’t know my relationship with Leah. He doesn’t even know that Leah is the owner of the restaurant. He says, I want to go eat at this particular restaurant. And I said, OK. I said, I really don’t want to go there, but he was, come on I want to have these pancakes, they’re so good. So I go there, and her sister asks me to leave. Her sister asked me to leave the restaurant. And I’m like, what is this, Alabama 1958? You want the blacks to leave? Like, what are you talking about? It was like, you gotta go.
I’m super blessed that she’s not in my life any more. Because she’s shown us who she is.
She herself has been on video saying, “The church has helped me. It’s given me all the tools I have.” She said it herself. And now we’re all sitting here, she doesn’t have the church anymore, and here she is, the evil that she is, being unleashed, because we’re not connected to her anymore. She’s — no one can tell me, I’ve known this girl for almost 15 years. You cannot tell me for one second that she in her quiet time is not freaking out, devastated, and completely lost.
Remini declined to comment about the allegations made by Francis. But her co-star, former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder, did have something to say.
“Stacy is trying to protect the only people who treat her like she is actually a celebrity — Scientologists. She is a nobody in the real world, but in the Scientology bubble she gets to sing for Tom Cruise. That is something vitally important for her,” he says. “Like everyone else in these Korean POW style videos, they are all about what a rotten person the target is. Though hers is pretty weak — the basic gist of her rant is that Leah was not ‘nice’ and not friendly. Funny, that didn’t bother her when she was taking handouts. And of course, Stacy does not address any of the abuses that Leah has talked about or were exposed on the show. Her entire message is ‘Leah Remini isn’t a nice person….’ Odd, every single person I’ve met who isn’t being sat in front of a camera like a ventriloquist’s dummy controlled by Scientology says the exact opposite about Leah, even though Leah never claimed to be an angel — anyone who has read her book knows she laid it out right on page one in anticipation of this sort of response. Even so, it’s exactly what they do because they know no other way — literally. Scientology’s effort is always to imply that if they allege a person is not nice, then nothing they say is true. But like I said, compared to what they say about me, and Amy Scobee and Marc and Claire Headley and Tom DeVocht and, and, and… this is pretty weak sauce. Stacy Francis is a nobody going nowhere. She got the boot from Celebrity Big Brother House in the UK which was her last ‘job.’ She can only remain ‘important’ in the shrinking world of Scientology by doing their bidding. How come they didn’t roll out the real celebrities? Where is Tom? John? Kirstie? Jenna? They’re too scared to say anything because they all have agents and publicists who are telling them not to go near the shit sandwich that is Scientology. So, they get the benchwarmer from the D team to step up. Its only use is for Scientologists — if anyone in the US recognizes her at all (and I would suspect that is almost nobody) it will be as the ‘drama queen’ who cried all the time on the X Factor.”
We have to admit, it’s pretty surprising, after all this time since Remini’s defection from Scientology was first announced at this very website, to see the church now retaliating at her the way it has against Ron Miscavige and Mike Rinder and so many others.
As always, it only goes to prove that the things being said about the church by its former members are true. Scientology leader David Miscavige is still following the same playbook for how to treat church critics that founder L. Ron Hubbard laid down in various policies written between 1955 and 1968. Scientology never changes. And it never will.
William Shatner on Leah Remini
We’ll just put these two tweets here for your consumption, Bill Shatner fans…
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) March 18, 2017
Have you gone to check out the websites the Church put up? Google her name. 😱 https://t.co/MAdzuMzeMg
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) March 18, 2017
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) March 19, 2017
A closer look at that emoji Bill used to describe the Scientology smear site…
UPDATE: Speaking of Twitter, Kirstie’s on a roll this morning…
SECOND UPDATE: And now the Elfmans on Carolla? People, this is an all-hands-on-deck Miscavige operation, no question. Is Cruise next?
Prosecution against Scientologist filmmakers falls apart
Last November we laid out the very serious criminal charges that were facing a filmmaker and a former insurance executive who had met in Scientology and then had financed a movie together that had badly flopped. Film director Dror Soref and his insurer on the project, Michelle Seward, were accused of using a Ponzi scheme to raise $21.5 million for the 2009 Simon Baker film, Not Forgotten, that took in only $142,055 at the box office. At that time, the two were facing 75 years each in prison as a preliminary hearing was about to get under way.
But now, as explained in an excellent Courthouse News piece by Matt Reynolds, all charges have been dropped against Soref after Seward worked out a deal to provide testimony against him.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor found that prosecutors had taken too much time to bring charges against Soref, who had spent five months in jail before the trial. According to Reynolds, Soref is now considering filing litigation after his ordeal.
Losing a HowdyCon friend
We’re sad to say that one of the people who joined us in Cleveland at last year’s first HowdyCon won’t be joining us for the second convention. On March 15, Darren Desepoli died of a massive heart attack, according to his sister. We believe he was only 52 years old.
Darren was a former Scientologist who not only attended HowdyCon (and posted here as “Flying High”), he was interested in trying to help former church members reunite to help them cope with what they’d been through. As recently as December 16, we received an email from him explaining how he was helping numerous former church members make contact with each other.
Darren’s central passion, however, was maintaining an online tribute to the author Alex Haley. Haley’s grandson, Bill Haley, posted this tribute to Darren on Facebook…
In honor of Darren Desepoli – My brother-from-another-mother… My heart is broken with grief and sorrow over your all-to-sudden homegoing from your earthly presence to the heavens above. I’m especially saddened by the pain of your loss by your sister Pia, your niece, nephew and family – whom I’ve had the pleasure of being welcomed so warmly into your family home a few years ago on a cold winter’s night. My prayers go out to you Pia, your children, and your entire family. I pray you take comfort in Matthew 5:4, which says “God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort!” Your brother was an extraordinary man – a humanitarian, whose display of humility, grace, kindness, and love for others was without bounds, and will be missed dearly. His contribution as a “digital griot” and contribution to the life history and public legacy of my grandfather Alex Haley cannot be adequately conveyed in words. Darren’s loving creation and curation of the Alex Haley Tribute website is a masterpiece of digital storytelling, that our entire family will always treasure, and hope to preserve in Darren’s memory. We extend our sincerest condolences, prayers, and God’s blessings of comfort for your family’s profound loss.
HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25. Go here to start making your plans.
Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,693 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,796 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,290 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,330 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,042 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 509 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,627 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,797 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,117 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,092 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 448 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,750 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 857 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,259 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,132 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 713 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,218 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,462 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,571 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