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Scientology forks over phone numbers to federal judge, who puts his foot down again

 
On May 1, Tampa federal Judge James Whittemore gave the Church of Scientology just ten days to turn over the phone numbers and occupations of 500 Los Angeles-area Scientologists whose names the church had previously turned in to the court under seal. It’s been more than a week since that deadline passed, and now we have evidence that the church did comply.

We learned that the church met the deadline from a footnote in a new order that Judge Whittemore issued Thursday, in which he reinforced just how much he’s taken control of a case that has fascinated us since it was first filed as a federal fraud lawsuit by a California couple, Luis and Rocio Garcia, back in January 2013.

The Garcias say they were lied to and defrauded by the church in order to convince them to turn over hundreds of thousands of dollars for a building project. But in 2015 Judge Whittemore ruled that membership contracts signed by the Garcias required them to submit their grievances to an internal Scientology arbitration process, and he stayed the lawsuit. Since then the Garcias and the church have been unable to agree on a set of three arbitrators to hear the matter, who according to Scientology must be church members in good standing. Whittemore became fed up with the two sides fighting over the process and decided to step in. He asked Scientology to submit an application that would give him the power to choose the arbitrators, and ordered the church to turn over the list of 500 Scientologists.

In a hearing last month, Scientology’s attorney, Wally Pope, appeared to agree with the idea that Whittemore would choose all three arbitrators. But by the time the church came back with its list of church members in good standing, it argued in a new motion that the judge should only choose one arbitrator, for the Garcias, and the church would take care of the other two. The church also insisted that it should contact any church members on behalf of the court, and did not turn over any phone numbers.

As we reported earlier, that didn’t sit well with Whittemore, who gave the church ten days to turn over that contact information for the 500 Scientologists. And now, he’s reiterated his authority to choose all three arbitrators, even as he “granted” Scientology’s motion that he choose just one.

It’s one of the more creative legal “fuck yous” we’ve seen in a while, frankly.

 

 
Did you get that? “Yes, I’m granting the church’s motion that I choose one person, and I’m choosing three. So suck it.”

Now that’s a sick burn.

And the situation is getting downright surreal. A federal judge in Tampa has a list of 500 names, with contact information, for Scientologists in good standing in the Los Angeles area, and he (or his clerks) will begin randomly choosing from that list to call up Scientologists to see if they would be willing to sit on an arbitration panel to decide a dispute brought by a couple of excommunicated top former church members, people the church has “declared suppressive” and instructed its members to have no contact with of any kind.

Whittemore has already threatened to throw into jail the attorneys for either side if he finds evidence that any of them tries to interfere with this process by contacting those potential arbitrators independently.

Which means that Whittemore thinks he’ll be able to convince three Scientologists to agree to become arbitrators without immediately running to the church or checking with its internal gestapo, the Office of Special Affairs.

Truly, this has the potential to become one of Scientology’s greatest clusterfucks of all time.

Or maybe we’re being too cynical and Judge Whittemore really will be able pull this off and will soon find three Scientologists to say, “sure, judge, I’ll be happy to serve” without running to the church in a panic first.

Crazier things have happened.

Here’s the judge’s order, one of the more passive-aggressive legal documents we’ve seen in a while. Let us know what you find in its depths.

 
GARCIAOrderArbitrators

 
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Australian senator goes after Narconon

If you’re a regular Underground Bunker reader, you will find the allegations about Scientology’s drug rehab network Narconon in this Australian report very familiar — that it’s really delivering Scientology training, not drug counseling; that its staff is made up of former addicts, not medical personnel; and that the facilities are accused of lax security and worse, making them dangerous places for people trying to recover from drug abuse.

But what we especially liked to see was the statement by independent Australian senator Nick Xenophon, who criticized the Victorian state government for leasing land to the Scientology rehab outside of Melbourne…

 

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon wants Narconon shut down and has slammed the Victorian Government for leasing public land to the Scientology-backed company.

“What’s happening at Narconon highlights the fact that there is inadequate regulation or no regulation when it comes to treating people with substance abuse,” Senator Xenophon said.

“If any government is giving a leg up to Narconon, they should demand accountability for the fact that they’re effectively getting taxpayer help to operate. They should demand transparency in their books, they should demand accountability in their treatment programs.”

“When you have people so vulnerable, so desperate for help, to be roped in to something that appear to be a front for Scientology is just not on.”

Can you imagine an American politician being as interested in, and vocal about, Scientology’s dangerous and deceptive drug rehabs in this country? What’s it going to take?

 
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Bonus items from our tipsters

Actual caption: My first job as In Charge of Help Campaigns for CAUSE LA: Last weekend I was asked to perform and speak from the main stage of Long Beach Arena (!) at the prestigious CA Women’s Conference and I sang, shared my story, and preached the good gospel of The Way To Happiness to all! Then I gave a 20 minute speech again on how TWTH helped me leave my brother’s couch and recreational drug use, drinking and my “Party girl” lifestyle behind to now flourish and prosper just 6 years later as #1 on iTunes and Amazon, charting on Billboard and touring the world as a professional singer using The Way To Happiness as my moral compass! Another interview with Voice of American We also passed out over 500 goody bags filled with TWTH custom Joy Villa covers and The Truth About Drugs! Get your own copy FREE and share with your friends!

 






 
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Countdown to Denver!

 

 
HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25 at the Residence Inn Denver City Center. Go here to start making your plans, and book your room soon!

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,756 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,859 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,353 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,393 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,105 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 631 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,720 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,860 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,180 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,155 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 511 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,813 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 920 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,322 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,195 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 776 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,281 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,525 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,634 days.

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on May 20, 2017 at 07:00

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

 

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