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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The story of Brian Sheen and his ‘disconnected’ Scientology daughter you haven’t heard

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The story hit Thursday night at about midnight, just as we were putting to bed our own piece about a Scientology day care scandal.

A local television station in South Florida reported that a man named Brian Sheen, 62, had filed a “civil rights complaint with the state” over Scientology’s toxic “disconnection” policy which rips apart so many families. In his case, his daughter, a Scientologist, had turned away from him, and he was being told nothing by the church about why it had ordered her to do so.

Continue reading The story of Brian Sheen and his ‘disconnected’ Scientology daughter you haven’t heard

Scientology’s day care from hell: The scandal the church managed to keep hidden — until now

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Written by Tony Ortega | Illustrations by Chad Essley

 
Ellen was driving back from an outing in San Diego with her daughter when she got the call. [“Ellen” is not her real name, but this account is exactly how she told it to us.]

It was Julian, an ethics officer at Scientology’s “org” in Los Angeles. Julian was one of the young “masters at arms” who enforce Scientology’s myriad rules and regulations. If you heard from him, it usually meant you were in some kind of trouble, Ellen knew.

Continue reading Scientology’s day care from hell: The scandal the church managed to keep hidden — until now

How Scientology’s 1970s infiltration scandal led to the creation of its IAS slush fund

We have another fun dive into Scientology history courtesy of correspondent Jeffrey Augustine. And this time, he’s starting out with a subject dear to us, the notorious burglarizing of federal government offices in the 1970s, an audacious operation Scientology called the “Snow White Program.” We love the 70s, Jeff! Take it away…

 
July 8, 1977: The FBI conducts a massive raid on the Church of Scientology to find evidence relating to its “Snow White Program.” The raid eventually leads to eleven top Scientology leaders being criminally charged and convicted for their role in the conspiracy to burglarize federal offices.

SEFThese Scientology defendants, including Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, needed a great deal of money for legal defense. So in 1978 Scientology’s notorious Guardian’s Office created the “Safe Environment Fund” (SEF) to pay for the significant legal expenses of the GO members who had been indicted. Essentially, the SEF was a GO legal slush fund that generated a significant amount of unrestricted donations.

Continue reading How Scientology’s 1970s infiltration scandal led to the creation of its IAS slush fund

NYTimes reports link between Scientology and hack of two who appeared in ‘Going Clear’

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[Mike Rinder and Tony Ortega at the Going Clear premiere at the Sundance Film Festival]

New York Times reporter Matthew Goldstein revealed today that before he was sentenced to prison on June 26, private investigator Eric Saldarriaga told Federal District Judge Richard J. Sullivan that he feared for his safety if it became public that he’d tried to help the FBI investigate his clients. In particular, he’d recorded phone calls with his main client, who Saldarriaga now worried “has the means and motive and the opportunity financially to do anything, and to cause great distress to my family.”

That statement was made in the judge’s chambers, and was recorded in a transcript which was unsealed this week. But Judge Sullivan kept hidden the name of the person Saldarriaga was referring to and what outfit the person worked for. But Goldstein now says that the Times has learned that the organization employing Saldarriaga’s client was none other than the Church of Scientology.

Continue reading NYTimes reports link between Scientology and hack of two who appeared in ‘Going Clear’

‘Growing Up in Scientology’ project launches with a new tale about John Travolta

[Credit: John Russo]

[Credit: John Russo]

In April, we announced a new project by Aaron Smith-Levin and Nick Lister. The two former Church of Scientology members were planning a YouTube channel that would feature the stories they felt were left out of Alex Gibney’s movie Going Clear — the stories of young people who had grown up in the church.

Smith-Levin and Lister had each featured prominently in stories about families being ripped apart by Scientology’s “disconnection” policy. But they said they wanted to talk with other young Scientologists to get the full story about what it’s like to grow up in the organization.

Now, they have the first video to show at their new channel, which they call “Growing Up in Scientology.” It’s a short portion from Aaron’s interview of Nick, and it features a fun and disturbing anecdote about John Travolta looking for a chiropractic adjustment at 2 in the morning…

Continue reading ‘Growing Up in Scientology’ project launches with a new tale about John Travolta

Monique Rathbun: Hey, Texas court, here’s something to chew on

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It’s been a long time since we’ve heard anything about the Monique Rathbun lawsuit against Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige.

The Texas lawsuit was put on hold when Scientology appealed a March 2014 ruling by Comal County Judge Dib Waldrip denying its “anti-SLAPP” motion. Arguments were made at a hearing before the Texas Third Court of Appeals in September, and since then we’ve been waiting for the appeals court to rule.

Continue reading Monique Rathbun: Hey, Texas court, here’s something to chew on

Scientology’s trophy problem: Did David Miscavige lie, or did the IAS?

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[Scientologists, admiring the milestones of IAS enlightenment]

 
In November, we told you the saga of Richie Acunto. He was the once high-flying Scientologist who owned Survival Insurance in California, but then whose bankruptcy resulted not only in unhappy investors, but also the stunning auctioning off of his Scientology trophies.

Continue reading Scientology’s trophy problem: Did David Miscavige lie, or did the IAS?

LIVE REPORTS: Scientology leader David Miscavige opens “Ideal Org” in Colombia today

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Scientology leader David Miscavige is scheduled to open the latest “Ideal Org” today, this time in Bogotá, Colombia, and we have a correspondent on the scene.

It’s been less than three months since Miscavige opened an Ideal Org in Basel, Switzerland, which is a much faster pace than he set the last two years. (There was only one Ideal Org opened in all of 2014, in Sydney, though the existing Advanced Org in Copenhagen also got a facelift that year.)

Continue reading LIVE REPORTS: Scientology leader David Miscavige opens “Ideal Org” in Colombia today

Jon Atack: Looking back on a week of Scientology enturbulation in Toronto

Jon_AtackJon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He has a new edition of the book for sale, and for more than a year on Saturdays he helped us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet. He was kind enough to send us a new post.

Jon, we regret that we could only attend the first two days of your conference in Toronto. But we’ve been looking forward to your post-game analysis. How did things go for you last week?

Continue reading Jon Atack: Looking back on a week of Scientology enturbulation in Toronto

Scientology’s billion-dollar slush fund, its slick operators, and how it gets around regulation

IASSetPrepare for Jeffrey Augustine to blow your mind as he takes us on another deep dive into Scientology’s finances, this time laying bare the IAS slush fund even more than he did last time. We think you’ll find this is Jeff’s best piece yet!

 
As discussed previously, the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) is not a church; it is an unincorporated membership organization. Per its charter, the IAS functions autonomously from the so-called “Mother Church” i.e. the Church of Scientology International (CSI):

Continue reading Scientology’s billion-dollar slush fund, its slick operators, and how it gets around regulation