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Scientology’s 2013 in review: The appeals of May and the blunts of June

The mugshot of Denise Gentile

The mugshot of Denise Gentile

We now return to our annual year-in-review, and we hope you enjoy hearing about how busy we were this past spring here in the Bunker.

The month of May started out with a legal setback for Scientology: a California appeals court refused to consider the church’s attempt to hold onto documents that a lower court decided should be turned over to Laura DeCrescenzo in her force-abortion lawsuit. But then a few days later, the church petitioned the state’s supreme court on the matter.

On May 7, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed “Stacy’s Law,” tightening regulation over Scientology’s drug rehab center in that state.

Two days later, we reported that Lori Hodgson had surprised her son with a visit to Austin. Her two grown children have “disconnected” from her because she left Scientology, and surprising her son at his place of work was her only way to see him.

Also on May 9, we noted that Ron Miscavige Sr., father to Scientology leader David Miscavige, had surfaced after escaping from the church the year before. And he’d done so in a pretty unusual way — with YouTube videos for exercise equipment he’s selling.

The next day, a stunner: Scientology filed a court motion asking to disqualify the attorneys for Luis and Rocio Garcia, and the church’s chief evidence was a declaration by former member Brian Culkin. Public denunciation of Culkin was swift and angry.


On May 11, we posted live as Mark Bunker sent us his reports from the Portland Ideal Org opening. It was a laugh riot.

Late in the month, Marty Rathbun release his third book, Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior, and while we loved portions of it — like his extended interview of Steve “Sarge” Pfauth — we were frustrated by Marty’s description of Scientology legal affairs.

And May ended on a strange note: Will Smith’s big summer movie After Earth debuted and got a serious drubbing from critics who wondered, how much of this is Scientology?

On June 4, attorney Jeff Harris filed a class-action lawsuit against Narconon in Atlanta. We’re still waiting to hear from the federal judge in that case after Scientology and Narconon filed multiple motions to dismiss.

A week later, we wrote about a bizarre infiltration of Scientology’s Sea Org by a woman distraught over losing her children. Later, we interviewed Yulia Keaton about her caper, but in general we’ve stayed away from the materials she brought out during her scheme.

On the 12th, we updated readers on Tommy Davis and Jessica Feshbach, who are no longer Scientology public relations workers, and are now living in Austin.

On June 17, we were excited when Channel 4 in the UK aired Scientologists at War, a film we helped out with and in which we appeared.

Four days later, we looked at Neil Gaiman’s new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and what it told us about his Scientology past.

In June’s waning days, Scientology asked US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy for a stay in the Laura DeCrescenzo forced-abortion case, but that request was denied.

On June 28, our adventure with Vance Woodward to blog L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics came to a close. What a trip we had.

And June had one final surprise. The month ended with a shocking report from Joe Childs at the Tampa Bay Times: Scientology leader David Miscavige’s twin sister, Denise Gentile, had been arrested for DUI and possession of marijuana blunts — and Childs learned that Gentile’s tenants claimed she would accept blunts in lieu of rent. Her attorneys were soon able to make the case go away, but for the Miscavige family, and for Scientology, it wasn’t a good look.


Hey, lawyer, interested in religious freedom?

Another great send-up from Karen de la Carriere and J. Swift…



Posted by Tony Ortega on December 27, 2013 at 07:00

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