Tony Ortega is executive editor of TheLipTV and is formerly the editor of The Village Voice. He's written about Scientology since 1995, and in May 2015 released a book about Scientology's harassment of Paulette Cooper titled 'The Unbreakable Miss Lovely.' He continues to monitor breaking developments in the Scientology world from an undisclosed location in an underground bunker he shares with four cats and one of them wrinkly Shar Pei dogs. Despite his super-secret security protections, you can still reach him pretty easily by sending him a message at tonyo94 AT gmail.com (Drop him a line if you'd like to get an e-mail whenever a new story is posted.) [Header image courtesy John Rickard]
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Why Steve Fishman — of the notorious Fishman Papers — is today serving 21 years in prison

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[Steve Fishman in the mid-1990s]

 
The preeminent academic studying Scientology, Dr. Steve Kent at the University of Alberta, recently set us on an interesting pursuit: Trace, he asked us, the effects of TIME magazine’s epic 1991 cover story on Scientology, “The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power.”

Continue reading Why Steve Fishman — of the notorious Fishman Papers — is today serving 21 years in prison

Google helps Scientology huckster Per Wickstrom bury a rehab patient death

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Once again, Google has gone to bat for someone we’ve written about here at the Underground Bunker, and once again, it’s for very sneaky reasons.

Continue reading Google helps Scientology huckster Per Wickstrom bury a rehab patient death

Once shy about the Internet, Scientology is now oversharing on social media

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OK, so you’ve been seeing a lot more of Scientology on social media over the past couple of years. Especially from overseas. So here’s our question: Is Scientology actually doing more than before, or do we just get to see more of what they were always doing because they’re finally less shy about using the Internet?

We look forward to your vote on that. And to give you some reality on our comm, here’s some of what turned up on social media just yesterday
Continue reading Once shy about the Internet, Scientology is now oversharing on social media

Passion of the Heist: The Scientology hucksters who have made this summer unforgettable

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[Illustration by Jeffrey Augustine]

While Bob Duggan and Grant Cardone continue their epic journey — Summer of ’15, the Bromance — we’re busy here in the Underground Bunker chasing down a dozen new leads that came in while we were traveling in Europe.

Continue reading Passion of the Heist: The Scientology hucksters who have made this summer unforgettable

Why no one should ever join Scientology’s ‘Sea Org’

SeaOrgAdFrequent contributor Jeffrey Augustine told us he was surprised to see how some of the language in Scientology’s latest court filing — in the Laura DeCrescenzo lawsuit — dovetailed in such interesting ways with the recent explorations he’s been making into the church’s legal underpinnings. We told him to let that take him where it would, and here’s the result…

 
Last week we discussed the reason why no one should ever believe anything said by Scientology Sea Org or staff members. And as we saw in Thursday’s column by Tony Ortega, the Church is fighting back in Laura DeCrescenzo’s forced-abortion lawsuit by arguing that the brutality it visits upon its staff is fully protected religious activity.

Continue reading Why no one should ever join Scientology’s ‘Sea Org’

Florida rejects complaint over Scientology ‘disconnection,’ but Brian Sheen unbowed

Brian_Sheen_SingsongLast month, we scrambled to bring you the story of Brian Sheen. A local television story in Florida had done a story on a man who had made a “civil rights complaint” to the state of Florida about the Church of Scientology denying him access to his daughter, but the story was short on details and somewhat confusing.

We interviewed Brian at length to learn his interesting story about having been very involved in Scientology in the early 1970s — he’d even been trained as an auditor on the yacht Apollo while L. Ron Hubbard was running Scientology from it. But then, in the late 1970s, Brian had broken away from Scientology after a bad experience being hit up for money by the organization.

Continue reading Florida rejects complaint over Scientology ‘disconnection,’ but Brian Sheen unbowed

With a trial looming in 6-year forced-abortion lawsuit, Scientology cries ‘but we’re a religion!’

Laura DeCrescenzo

Laura DeCrescenzo

In 2013, the Underground Bunker provided live coverage as Laura DeCrescenzo’s forced-abortion lawsuit survived a major challenge by the Church of Scientology. Laura sued the church in 2009 because she alleges that she was abused as a “Sea Org” worker who, for example, was made to work 90-hour weeks for pennies an hour — and that’s when she was 12 years old. When she turned 13, she was moved to an adult schedule of 112-hour weeks. At 17, while still technically a child, she says she was coerced into having an abortion — something other women have alleged was standard policy in the Sea Org, where having children was forbidden because it would prevent them from working so much.

Continue reading With a trial looming in 6-year forced-abortion lawsuit, Scientology cries ‘but we’re a religion!’

Scenes from the increasingly desperate straits Scientology finds itself in

NashvilleOpeningWe had a lot of fun on Monday revisiting perhaps the high point in the careers of Scientology leader David Miscavige and his actor-lieutenant, Tom Cruise, when they opened a new church in Madrid in 2004. Since then, the two have been battered and bruised with years of brutal press accounts of how Miscavige physically abused his top executives, imprisoned them for years at a time, was the subject of an FBI investigation, and made his own wife disappear — all as Cruise has idly stood by, continuing to be the organization’s number one recruiting tool.

Continue reading Scenes from the increasingly desperate straits Scientology finds itself in

Scientology’s front group that targets kids gets cover from a Swiss politician: News report

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Once again, Jonny Jacobsen is our man on the scene in Europe, where news of Scientology’s infiltration of a Swiss national organization broke in the local press. Give us the details, Jonny…

Continue reading Scientology’s front group that targets kids gets cover from a Swiss politician: News report

EXCLUSIVE: Tom Cruise Scientology video shows the actor praising the church — in Spanish!

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Thanks to former Scientologist Tiziano Lugli, we have a world exclusive for you today here at the Underground Bunker. It’s a previously unreleased video made by the Church of Scientology and intended only to be seen by members. It’s a short segment that’s part of a larger, hour-and-a-half grand opening celebration, and it captures Tom Cruise helping to open the new Madrid church in 2004, with the actor charming the locals by giving a 7-minute speech about what Scientology means to him — in Spanish!

Continue reading EXCLUSIVE: Tom Cruise Scientology video shows the actor praising the church — in Spanish!