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Scientology’s 2014 in review: Our October surprise was all about the Duggans

Bob Duggan

Bob Duggan

We’re nearly done with our year-end look back at the most significant stories here in the Underground Bunker.

And now we’re looking at October, when we released our biggest investigative story of 2014. But first, there was a mess at PAC base that we needed help understanding…

October began with some surprising changes for Scientology at its Los Angeles headquarters. Former church spokesman Mike Rinder helped us understand what had happened and why a sudden and massive staffing change was further proof that Scientology leader David Miscavige is getting increasingly desperate as his organization dwindles.

On October 6, Jonny Jacobsen gave us a great exclusive: The introduction to a book he started about Scientology back in 2008 and that had never seen the light of day. It was one of the best short descriptions of Scientology and its controversies that we’ve ever read.

A couple of days later, we scored another exclusive here in the Bunker — a copy of the letter Scientology had sent to the San Francisco Chronicle, complaining about reporter Nanette Asimov’s superb profile of L. Ron Hubbard great-grandson Jamie DeWolf. Scientology’s Karin Pouw, who wrote the letter (though we fully expect that David Miscavige himself wrote it) asked that it not be for publication. Oh well!

On October 10, we reported that Vance Woodward’s lawsuit against the church had been dismissed after Scientology filed an anti-SLAPP motion. Vance has filed a motion to reconsider.


On October 15, we posted our biggest story of the year, an investigation that we’d been working on for several months. It’s a perplexing, sordid tale, and we don’t expect other media to touch it. But we were glad that the cooperation of several witnesses on two different continents helped us put together the bizarre story of the richest Scientologists in the world, Bob and Trish Duggan, and their strange decision to send two of their adopted sons to families in South Africa at the same time their large donations are propping up the church there.

A few days later, we jumped on a story that has also largely been ignored by the world’s media, even though it involves one of their favorite subjects — Tom Cruise and Scientology. We reported on a photograph that proves, definitively, that Cruise is still as dedicated to the church as in the past, despite tabloid rumors to the contrary.

On October 19, we scrambled to cover a bizarre new incident — Marty Rathbun was ambushed by three top Scientology officials at Los Angeles International Airport. Rathbun managed to catch them on video as they aggressively told him to “get a life” while filming him at a gate waiting for a flight home to Texas. It was the first of several similar ambushes that has us wondering why Scientology seems to be losing its collective mind.

Four days later, we brought up a 1949 letter by L. Ron Hubbard that has rarely been discussed in books and articles about Scientology. Written to Forrest Ackerman, Hubbard came off less like “mankind’s best friend” and more like a creep on the make.

On October 27, we wrote about the really strange and funny accident that our old friend Mark Ebner should run across a couple of Gay Ribis’s Scientology plaques in a rubbish pile on Wilshire Boulevard. What are the odds?

And on Halloween, we reminded readers that Scientology’s ‘disconnection’ policy is still splitting families apart, and we did it by showing a couple of heartbreaking photos that Kate Bornstein has found of her daughter she hasn’t seen in 30 years and a grandson she’s never met.

A LOOK BACK AT OCTOBER 2013: Live-blogging the Garcia mini-trial in Tampa, Scientology denied by the US Supreme Court, interpreting Leah Remini’s epic dance, and live-blogging a dramatic hearing in Laura DeCrescenzo’s lawsuit in Los Angeles.


Bonus photos from our tipsters

Thanks to Communicator I/C for this find — Rizza Islam’s Facebook post about his night at the Scientology New Year’s Eve part on December 27. You might remember Rizza — he was one of the ones we spotted infiltrating a high school conference in Los Angeles. As you can see from the caption on his photo, he’s proud to be the face of the strange Scientology-Nation of Islam marriage!


Here’s a shot sent in by Angry Gay Pope taken outside the Los Angeles Org: “Check out who has turned to hors d’oeuvres in a desperate attempt to get bodies routed in.”


Scientologists are using social media more than ever. Drop us a line if you spot them posting images to Instagram or Facebook!


Posted by Tony Ortega on December 30, 2014 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS (We read Scientology’s founding text) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN (Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ


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