Tony Ortega is executive editor of The Raw Story and is formerly the editor of The Village Voice. He's written about Scientology since 1995, and has a forthcoming book about the subject. 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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Paris elects its first female mayor — and you have to see her record on Scientology!

Anne_HidalgoYesterday, Paris elected its first woman mayor, Anne Hidalgo. But as our man in France Jonny Jacobsen explains, she has a lot more interest for us here in the Underground Bunker than the fact that she’s female and from Spain…

Paris has, not surprisingly, elected another socialist mayor.

Continue reading Paris elects its first female mayor — and you have to see her record on Scientology!

Sunday Funnies: These fliers should convince you to give all your cash to Scientology!

SiliconVOrg2Hey, we sure had a fun time last night live-blogging the Scientology episode of H2′s ‘America’s Book of Secrets.’ It turned out to be an excellent show, and covered an amazing amount in only an hour. The episode will be on many more times, and as soon as it’s available at H2′s website, we’ll let you know.

Also, if you didn’t get a look at it yet, we’re happy that the New York Post let us go on at length about Russell Miller’s terrific book, Bare-Faced Messiah, being republished 27 years after Scientology’s litigation tactics kept it out of this country.

Continue reading Sunday Funnies: These fliers should convince you to give all your cash to Scientology!

LIVE-BLOGGING: Scientology on H2′s ‘America’s Book of Secrets’

AmericasBookOfSecretsA few months ago, we followed some directions and ended up at a hotel lobby in the business district downtown. Upstairs, there was a bar that had been taken over by a film crew. We dug the setting — the more booze bottles in the background, the better.

For a couple of hours, we were asked about Scientology, and the questions were quite good. But there were some sound issues — the folks in the lobby downstairs wouldn’t shut up — so we left wondering if any of it was actually usable. But then we showed up in the promotional guide to tonight’s “America’s Book of Secrets” season premiere, so we figure at least some of what we said was used.

Continue reading LIVE-BLOGGING: Scientology on H2′s ‘America’s Book of Secrets’

Scientology answers the Garcias — And turns over a trove of internal documents

Luis_GarciaYesterday, we told you that Luis and Rocio Garcia had taken an interesting new direction in their federal fraud lawsuit against Scientology. After spending a few months gathering evidence about several Scientology entities, they decided to drop three Scientology trusts as defendants, and then requested the right to amend their original complaint.

They filed that request on Wednesday, just one day before Scientology was due to make its own filing to support its motion to dismiss the lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds.

Continue reading Scientology answers the Garcias — And turns over a trove of internal documents

Ted Babbitt’s gambit: Recasting the Garcia federal fraud lawsuit against Scientology

Luis and Rocio Garcia

Luis and Rocio Garcia

After several months delay in the federal fraud lawsuit that Luis and Rocio Garcia brought against the Church of Scientology, the Garcias have filed a surprising new motion: They’re dropping three defendants from the suit and asking Judge James Whittemore for the right to amend their original complaint.

If you remember our previous reporting on this lawsuit, you know that late last year it hit a snag. More than nine months after the suit was originally filed in January 2013, Scientology notified the court that the Garcias had committed a basic error. The Garcias had sued in federal court in Florida, even though the Garcias themselves and the trustees of some of the Scientology entities they were suing live in California. This appeared to violate a legal concept known as “diversity jurisdiction,” and Scientology asked to have the case dismissed.

Continue reading Ted Babbitt’s gambit: Recasting the Garcia federal fraud lawsuit against Scientology

VIDEO: Learn the power of Scientology in L. Ron Hubbard’s Science of Survival lectures!

SoSThetaOur video source has another fun dose of L. Ron Hubbard for us this week. In this “quote video” used by Scientology to sell a $125.00 set of lectures, we learn about the power of theta as it heals the faithful at a church in South America. Huh? Well, whatever.

Here’s how Bridge Publications describes this set of lectures, made soon after the publication of Hubbard’s book Science of Survival in 1951…

Continue reading VIDEO: Learn the power of Scientology in L. Ron Hubbard’s Science of Survival lectures!

Belgium will try two Scientology organizations and 10 Scientologists for fraud

Scientology_BelgiumBreaking news from our man in Paris, Jonny Jacobsen, who tells us that Belgian prosecutors finally announced their decision in a criminal case that has been a long time coming. Here’s Jonny’s report…

A court in Belgium on Thursday has sent two Scientology organisations and at least 10 Scientologists for trial, the Belga news agency reports.

The Chambre de Conseil had been considering whether two criminal investigations against the movement, one dating back as far as 1997, should go to court.

Continue reading Belgium will try two Scientology organizations and 10 Scientologists for fraud

Ryan Hamilton jumps on Narconon’s answer in Nevada drug rehab lawsuit

Rainbow_CanyonOn Tuesday, we posted Narconon’s response to the first of four federal fraud lawsuits filed against the Scientology drug rehab facilities in recent weeks. Now, just days later, Las Vegas attorney Ryan Hamilton has come swinging back, asking the court to accept that Narconon has essentially admitted to the allegations his client made about the deceptive practices at the Nevada facility, Rainbow Canyon Retreat in the town of Caliente.

That’s aggressive lawyering, and maybe an informed approach to Scientology’s legal style, given its history.

A couple additional court notes before we let you loose on the court filing.

Continue reading Ryan Hamilton jumps on Narconon’s answer in Nevada drug rehab lawsuit

Jillian Schlesinger: How I got into Scientology, and how I got out

ChurchofScientologyBy Tony Ortega

This is happening in Los Angeles, on Fountain Avenue, in an old hospital building painted blue and topped with huge, lit-up letters that read SCIENTOLOGY.

And this is only weeks ago. In 2014. In the center of one of the largest cities in a country that likes to think of itself as one of the freest on earth.

A woman of 30. Already a veteran of years of working 19-hour days for eight dollars a week. With no access to a telephone. Sleeping in a room with 11 other women on a floor of the old hospital with only a single bathroom. She’s never owned a car. She’s never rented her own apartment. She’s never owned a cell phone. She’s never had a credit card.

Continue reading Jillian Schlesinger: How I got into Scientology, and how I got out

Lawyer Vance Woodward sues Scientology over his time in the church — here’s the complaint

Vance_WoodwardWe just talked to our old friend and Underground Bunker correspondent Vance Woodward, who filed a lawsuit against the Church of Scientology Friday.

You remember Vance — after putting out a wild memoir about his time in the church, he helped us blog L. Ron Hubbard’s essential text, Dianetics, and we had a roller coaster of a time going through it, chapter by chapter.

After our last installment of the series in June, Vance said he was relocating from San Francisco to Los Angeles and wanted to refocus his life on his legal career — he even took his memoir off the market.

Continue reading Lawyer Vance Woodward sues Scientology over his time in the church — here’s the complaint