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Earache my eye: A Scientology official’s excuses why he can’t fly for deposition in fraud suit

Mike Ellis [Photo by Doug Owens]

Mike Ellis [Photo by Doug Owens]

The Church of Scientology is known for its legendary scorched-earth legal tactics that can tie up lawsuits for years or persecute its enemies with endless motions and obfuscations.

But its legal chicanery can also be a hoot.

We have a series of documents that have been flying back and forth between parties as the Luis and Rocio Garcia federal fraud lawsuit against Scientology approaches a crucial February 18 evidentiary hearing. And we have a feeling you’re going to find the material in these documents rather entertaining.

The Garcias are suing Scientology because they say they were defrauded when they were pressured to turn over donations as members of Scientology. The church, meanwhile, calls this a religious dispute and has filed a motion asking to compel the Garcias to submit to Scientology’s internal arbitration to settle the matter. But the Garcias have lined up former Scientology executives like Mark “Marty” Rathbun and Mike Rinder who say the Scientology arbitration procedures are a sham designed to keep former members from getting their money back.

Each side has been taking depositions for the hearing, and they were facing a deadline of January 16 set by federal Judge James D. Whittemore to complete them all.

Yesterday, we posted a portion of one of those depositions, of Rathbun, which was taken on December 22. But the one deposition that both sides have been especially interested in was the questioning of Scientology’s “International Justice Chief,” a man named Mike Ellis (pictured).

The IJC is an interesting figure. When Scientologists are expelled — “declared a suppressive person” in Scientology lingo — the only member of the organization they can then communicate with to get back into the church’s good graces or settle other matters is the IJC. But Ellis, who has held the position since 1998, usually communicates by letter, and he’s rarely actually seen by former members — or anyone outside of the secretive upper layers of Scientology management.

Ellis submitted a declaration supporting Scientology’s arbitration procedure in October, saying that rules for settling disputes were laid down by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) and it was his job to make sure those rules are still followed to the letter.

The Garcias then had former Scientology legal affairs director Mike Rinder answer Ellis’s declaration, and he proceeded to shred Ellis’s statement in his own affidavit.

Ever since then, it’s become pretty obvious that one of this lawsuit’s major showdowns will happen when the Garcia legal team, with Mike Rinder present, gets a chance to question Ellis under oath.

It’s also pretty obvious that Scientology is terrified by the prospect, and its lawyers have been trying to find a way to keep it from happening. They filed a motion trying to exclude Rinder, but that didn’t work. The deposition for Ellis was then set for January 7 in Tampa, Florida, and it looked like nothing was going to keep Rinder from attending and helping Garcia attorney Ted Babbitt ask tough questions. (Rinder himself was deposed on January 6 without incident.)

But you just knew Scientology was going to reach into its bag of tricks, didn’t you?

On January 3, four days before Ellis was scheduled to be deposed in Tampa, Scientology attorney Wally Pope emailed Babbitt to say that Ellis, who lives in LA, wasn’t going to make it.

“Ted: Mike Ellis is ill. A copy of his doctor’s statement is attached. He will be medically re-evaluated later this coming week. He won’t be able to make it to the scheduled deposition,” Pope wrote.

Attached to the email was a doctor’s note saying that Ellis was suffering from “acute bronchitis with reactive airways, as well as bilateral serous otitis media,” (an infection of the middle ear).

And longtime Scientology watchers are going to love this next detail. The medical note was signed by Dr. Megan Shields.

Shields is a Scientologist who has had a long involvement with the organization’s quasi-medical initiatives, Carnegie Mellon University professor Dave Touretzky reminds us at his excellent website about Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon. Touretzky points out that Shields has been research director of Narconon International, as well as a member of Narconon’s International Science Advisory Board. “Dr. Shields is a Scientologist and is frequently quoted on Church of Scientology websites attesting to her gains from Scientology,” Touretzky writes. She also authored the introduction to a 1990 book published under the name of L. Ron Hubbard four years after his death about his quack “detoxification” process, Clear Body, Clear Mind.

Shields, in her doctor’s note for Ellis, said his condition was serious enough to keep him from going to Tampa to be questioned. “He has started appropriate treatment. He should not fly. I will re-evaluate him in two to three weeks,” she wrote.

Babbitt didn’t accept that excuse and demanded that Ellis be examined by a non-Scientology doctor. The next day, on the 4th, Ellis was seen by Dr. Marc W. Judd of Newbury Park and was given the same diagnosis — bronchitis with serous otitis media.

The Scientology legal team — Wally Pope and Bob Potter — began suggesting that Ellis could be deposed at a later date and in California rather than Florida so he wouldn’t have to fly. And Potter couldn’t help taking a shot at Babbitt for his pessimism.

“I have never seen or heard of anyone contesting a reasonable medical verification based on the similar religious beliefs of the patient and doctor. Presumably you would not make the same allegation if the doctor and patient were both Jewish, Catholic, or Baptist,” Potter wrote in an email.

Babbitt shot back…

Bob, that won’t do. He was scheduled and subpoenaed for Tampa and this is his delay. my concern has nothing to do with religion. Scientology is a close knit community as evidenced by their unusual attitude towards former Scientologists. Dr. Shields doesn’t just share common beliefs, she was the author of the introduction to a Scientology text that is controversial….In addition, though I’m not a doctor, her diagnosis of otitis media in an adult is rare and awfully convenient. I think you will have to show more than a one line diagnosis and explain why with antibiotic treatment he can’t be well enough to travel after a week.

Babbitt then rescheduled Ellis’s deposition for January 23 in Tampa, and got a deadline extension from the court, which had wanted all the depositions completed by January 16.

Oh, but Scientology had another trick up its sleeve. Los Angeles-based Scientology lawyer Gary Soter then entered the picture. He notified Babbitt on Wednesday that Ellis still hadn’t been cleared to fly.

Soter then filed an emergency motion for a protective order and, at the same time, a temporary motion to have himself admitted to the Middle District of Florida so he could represent Ellis in Whittemore’s court.

Soter asked Whittemore to block Babbitt from compelling Ellis to fly to Tampa for his deposition because, Soter says, there “has been a recent change of circumstance.”

Ellis, it turns out, weighs 315 pounds.

We’re not sure why no one noticed this before, but it turns out an ear infection isn’t the IJC’s only problem. Because of his weight, Ellis has other problems which were apparently only discovered on Friday. Writes Soter…

Mr. Ellis weighs 315 pounds, suffers from high blood pressure, fatigue and tightness in his chest. He was seen by a cardiologist on January 16, 2015. The cardiologist obtained a history, conducted an examination, diagnosed “angina pectoris” and told Mr. Ellis that he was “unable to travel.”

Soter is pushing for Ellis to be deposed in Los Angeles, and if the date of Friday, January 23 remains in place, that just might prove rather inconvenient for Mike Rinder, who has a date at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend as Alex Gibney’s documentary about Scientology featuring Rinder, “Going Clear” makes its premiere on Sunday, January 25.

Scientology doesn’t really want to spoil Rinder’s Park City weekend, does it?

We hear both sides are still hashing out what day Ellis will be deposed on, and where, and whether Babbitt and Rinder will both be present and who will be footing the bill to fly to Los Angeles.

And we have a feeling that Judge Whittemore is going to have some interesting comments about these shenanigans at the February 18 hearing.

Here’s Soter’s motion…

Garcia v. Scientology: Emergency Motion by Gary Soter

All silliness aside, we’re pretty sure the February 18 hearing scares the bejeesus out of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige. Whittemore has been especially meticulous with this motion, and whichever way he rules, he’s bound to write a lengthy and thorough decision.

Forcing people into arbitration by convincing courts that any monetary dispute is a religious one has been a good trick for Scientology. But if Whittemore rules against that practice, such a ruling from a district federal court could make things a lot dicier for Scientology when it comes to the hundreds of other former members who would like to get their donations back.

Might that prospect even be so frightening for Scientology that it writes a big fat check to the make the Garcias go away before the February 18 hearing? We have to think there’s at least a chance of it happening. Though we’d rather see the hearing happen, and see Ted Babbitt and Wally Pope spar again in front of Whittemore. Now that’s good theater.


UnbreakableCoverAnnouncing our book tour

We have some news about how you can join us as we tour for our upcoming book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely.

First, a little background. It’s been pointed out to us numerous times that our brief appearance in the very first episode of Penn & Teller’s series “Bullshit!” for Showtime is on YouTube.

The year was 2002, and your proprietor was working on a story at New Times Los Angeles when our friend James Underdown at Center for Inquiry West got us into that show because the two of us were investigating a talk-to-the-dead TV charlatan.

You can see us with Jim in the Penn & Teller show. We were younger then and had less grey hair.

Anyway, to this day Jim runs CFI-West in Los Angeles, and he’s done amazing things with the place. It has a great facility on Hollywood Boulevard, and it has the Steve Allen Theater, where it holds talks.

Well, we’re super excited to announce that on Sunday, May 17, we’ll kick off our book tour in the Steve Allen Theater. And here’s the best part — Paulette Cooper will be on stage with us!

We’ll appear at 11 am on May 17 in LA, and then at 4:30 pm we’ll also give a talk at Center for Inquiry’s facility in Costa Mesa.

Jim is helping us set up an entire California swing to start our tour, and we’re still working out the other dates.

Address your inquiries about advance tickets to James Underdown of Center for Inquiry-West in Los Angeles. Please keep in mind that it may be a little while before he can began selling the seats.

Paulette and your proprietor are looking forward to the event!


Bonus photos from our tipsters

Rajneesh Gupta, superintendent of police in India’s most northeastern state, Arunachal Pradesh, hands out copies of The Way to Happiness which have custom covers for the AP police force. Soak up that trite Hubbard morality, ladies!



Hubbard college for applying technology to real-life situations — Stop it, you’re making our ribs hurt…


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



6 days until Alex Gibney’s film Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief opens at the Sundance Film Festival at 2:30 pm on Sunday, January 25 in Park City, Utah


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 19, 2015 at 08:05

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 cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

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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  • The Dude

    Fat boy, on a diet. Don’t try it. I’ll duck yo ass like a looter in a riot!

    • Abstergo Industries

      You’re poet and you don’t noet

      • The Dude

        You do know da iz “Cypress Hill”? Right?

        • Abstergo Industries

          I’m a poet, let me pour you a glass of Moet

          • The Dude

            Iffin you know it.
            And you don show it.
            You be slackin’,
            on yo Mackin.

            • Abstergo Industries

              I’m Shakespeare
              A world class poet
              So why don’t you shut it
              And sip my glass of Moet

            • The Dude

              “I’ve got a girlie in a castle and one in a Pagoda
              You know I’ve got rhymes like Abe Vigoda”

            • Jimmy3
            • The Dude
            • Jimmy3

              Love that

            • The Dude

              He was very good to them. MCA was a good man.

            • The Dude

              Jimmy. I’m not sure that everyone is hip to this album. So I will put it out there. Beastie Boys are not all about Hip Hop. They were a whole band of talented musicians. If you care to listen to this album. You will see that they played all their own instruments and the tunes are solid. The whole album was really amazing.


            • Abstergo Industries

              Excuse me while I kiss the sky

            • Jimmy3

              I know why you busted out that rhyme, too, because I immediately think the same thing when I hear “Moet”

              The King Ad Rock, that is my name
              Y’all drinkin’ Moet and we got the champagne.

              It’s automatic.

            • Abstergo Industries

              Yeah, it’s a sarcastic rhyme
              But guess who said it first

            • The Dude

              Jimmy. We think the same. Should I be proud or depressed.
              I will go with proud.

            • Jimmy3

              I would’ve asked if there is a third option. Door C is the answer.

            • The Dude


            • The Dude

              Ya Irish bastad ya. Frum southie ar ya?

            • Sir Hemet TC Burlwood, VIII

              For you and The Dude.

            • The Dude

              Sir Hemet, You rock!

            • Sir Hemet TC Burlwood, VIII

              I’ve got the bottle, you bring the cup
              Come Jimmy3, let’s

            • The Dude

              Get F&*ked UP!

            • The Dude

              Yo Sir Hemet.
              Let’s stir it up!

            • Abstergo Industries

              🙂 just foolin

            • Artoo45

              But I ain’t going out like no punk bitch
              Get used to one style and you know I might switch
              It up up and around, then buck buck get down
              Put out your head then you wake up in the Dawn of the Dead
              I’m coming to get ya, I’m coming to get ya
              Spitting out lyrics homie I’ll wet ya

            • Sir Hemet TC Burlwood, VIII

              That is crazy insane. You have no brain

            • Artoo45


  • EnthralledObserver

    Mr Ellis – ‘he will make himself available on any day that suits the parties” – the judge will hold him to this, I hope.

    Not to mention – should Mr Ellis, given the quite poor state of his health, drop dead next week, who will take his place at ‘work’? Surely that successor/junior can fill in for him now? Lie, deceit and stalling – that’s all this is. Disgusted!

    • The Dude

      Good idea. Maybe ask to send a proxy. Because he is too ill to attend. Wow! Who the fuck would they send?

      • EnthralledObserver

        I meant the junior could fill in for him ‘at work’, while he attends this important justice issue for the Garcias (which is part of his duty) – not try to shrug it off as a burdensome extra-occupational responsibility. This IS part of his JOB!

        • Cosmo Pidgeon

          He is “International Justice Chief ” Big title…..step up and take responsibility.

    • Jimmy3

      Oh no, can you imagine the Church of Scientology without an active International Justice Chief? It’d be just like the Church of Scientology with an International Justice Chief, only exactly the same.

      • EnthralledObserver

        We certainly know this, but it’s not what CO$ wish to represent. He’s all very important and needed… but if he dies, oh well. These people aren’t very good at filling in the gaps in their stories – I’m astounded at how they’ve managed to get away with it for so long.

        • Jimmy3

          Truth. And it’d be quite a gap to fill, too.

      • Ella Raitch

        Have you met Helluvahoax at ESMB – I think you two would get on immensely!

        • Jimmy3

          Never met, but I’ve read a few of his posts here and a few there. Seems like a good people. “Get on” has a different connotation in America, though.

          • Ella Raitch


      • Todd Tomorrow

        Or a president. (Heber)

  • edge

    So, the “justice chief” guy who determines if you’ve “ruined your eternity” and decides the fate of your ability to communicate with your scientology friends and family is a fat, out of shape bastard who can’t be bothered to take a flight and does all he can to avoid actual justice?

    On which OT level do you learn to make excuses for the OT levels?

    • Cosmo Pidgeon

      Thanks edge

    • Jenstnick

      If he were to be truthful, he’d have to say that all decisions are made by Dimunitive Dave

    • He’s supposed to sign off on every Disconnection and Declare, but these days, I wonder if those are mostly retroactive after the deed has been done.

    • Ella Raitch

      I doubt Ellis has any say in the matter

      • He really does not. IJC probably answers to ED Int or WDC (not that either exist anymore or ever were) and they answer to RTC, especially in a case like this.

  • BlondesAreDumb

    My concern is that something will happen to the International Justice Chief, and he will never be deposed. Stranger things have happened — major medical event for the man, “where’s Shelley” incident, or worse.

    Plaintiffs’ attorneys need to get that deposition ASAP whatever the financial cost. And I almost feel that Mike Rinder needs a bodyguard. The world with Scientology in the mix is not only not healthy but not safe!

    • Cosmo Pidgeon

      I think Mike can take care of himself….. but this IJC guy may have a hunting accident or a double dose of emotional stress and to fat to fly episodes with blood clots and irregular heartbeats…..all episodes that Scientologists would never experience unless asked to answer questions about the legitimacy of his position. This poor bastard is another fall guy for Miscavige.

    • TheQueenofBulgravia

      Exactly! ….PTS. Liability, KSW. “For the Greater Good”….

    • Todd Tomorrow

      Wouldn’t put it passed them to cleverly stage a suicide,

  • Have they considered getting Kirstie Alley to help slim Mike Ellis down enough to fly?

    • Todd Tomorrow

      She pretends to loose weight and uses speed which might cause Ellis’s heart to blow up.

  • Cosmo Pidgeon

    I’m sorry but this guy Ellis turns my stomach having some very negative experiences with Scientology “ethics”…..Yeah I’m a bad guy because I expected justice and honesty in the C of S… I was naive, I didn’t believe it existed in the ‘Wog World” and that these bastards in Scientology were going to deliver. I was an ass…. Respect and integrity are hard won by the way you conduct yourself.

    • Jimmy3

      Why do you think you’re a bad guy?

    • Jenstnick

      Still overcoming the Scilon mantra of “you pulled it in”? No worries, they mindfucked you, forgive yourself.

    • The Dude

      Dude. Past is past. Look not on your mistakes but what you can make from that knowledge.
      I know that sounds like Yoda or something. But it is true. Don’t judge yourself. Live on to evaluate your life in a year or so. Life is fun. Go on a hike.

    • Todd Tomorrow

      We are your friends now. I remember when you showed up. You’ve come so far so quickly and it hasn’t been easy.

      • Cosmo Pidgeon

        Thanks Todd…that means a lot.

    • 0tessa

      It was not your fault.
      You were manipulated.

  • Bryce Byerley

    Can’t he just exteriorize and travel to the deposition that way?

    • edge

      Better yet, can’t he just “theta communicate” his deposition?

    • The Dude

      Apparently he can’t fit in the oily table/exteriorizar.

  • Because International Justice Chief facing a real justice is kind of awkward.

  • Sarah James

    They should depose Dr. Megan Shields as well.

    • The Dude

      That would be perjury! Are you MAD?

      • Sarah James

        Yes. Scientology has that effect on me.
        Wait, can they help me with that??

  • Problem solved.

    315 Pound Church of Scientology Justice Chief to be Fitness Boarded Out of Sea Org

    Snip: “4A. After Mike Ellis is declared, his post will remain vacant and so there is no IJC for Ted Babbitt to depose.”

  • Todd Tomorrow

    Was just sent this to me by a friend who is studying religion,not quite sure to make of it. The, attack the attacker and several other clam cliches..Just thought i’d throw it out there.

    • Graham

      At a quick glance, looks like an anti-Semitic nut-case site. The classic one of course being the so-called Protocol of the Elders of Zion:

      In more general terms, there are plenty of examples in the Old Testament where the Tribes of Israel are encouraged to have one rule for themselves as the ‘in’ group, and apply different standards to the rest of humanity. The common stock of all (?) religions is to see the in-group as special and despise everyone else. As part of this some kind of system of lying has to be sanctioned, so that the out-group can be deceived as to the true nature of the in-group’s beliefs. An example would be the Muslim concept of taqiyya.

      Scientology could be summed up as follows:
      1) we’re special and everybody else should be like us
      2) it’s ok to treat non-believers differently
      3) if you action the rituals 100% correctly and with 100% commitment and belief you will be able to transcend the laws of nature.

      In that regard it’s no different from pretty much every other religion out there. (That’s why I’m an Apatheist).

      • Todd Tomorrow

        I’ve been one since a child. My buddy and I have discussed all sorts of religions evil side. He sent me 18 pages from various sites that he seems to think Hub got many of his ideas. I’ll go over as much of it as I can tomorrow. Funny he was raised a Jew but despises their political views. His parents will no longer speak to him. Hope this didn’t offend anyone. Just thought I’d throw it out there.

        • Graham

          I think a lot of this stuff stems from basic fantasy wish-fulfilment. I’m sure Hubbard stole a lot from other traditions. But for some of it the similarities might just be down to the fact that all these ‘spiritual’ traditions fish in the same pond. They all try to satisfy basic infantile needs, such as wanting to be looked after by a higher power, to feel special, and to be able to transcend those irritating and debilitating laws of nature. Thus most of them come up with similar answers, even without the additional benefit of plagiarisation.

  • valshifter

    Associate of applied science, a degree that is valuable and recognized only by scientology. You very much on your own with that degree in the real world.

    • AmoVolare

      If it’s true for you than it is true!

  • 5 Days

    • Graham

      Have you got your pop-corn in yet?

    • Ella Raitch

      Wow that’s gone quickly! I can remember the first time Tony posted the count down it seemed so l o n g to wait.

  • Pierrot

    *** RED X +–+** RED X ** +–+ RED X *** Tuesday 20th January

    Good morning Night Owls and Early Birds,
    The score for yesterday, 121 new/refreshed ads bringing the Last 4 Days EVEN at 310 and
    the 7 days Regional List Slightly UP from 591 to 604.
    RedX write up :
    RedX spreadsheet:
    For those who do not have much time but would like to send a message to Tony Chen do Sacramento in the Regional list TAB of the RedX spreadsheet. (see link above).

    DON’T route out, BLOW, Get HELP, get OUT. CALL 1-866-XSEAORG

    dianetics for dummies by anonymous at wwp

    • Graham

      I see the Tampa ads continue to be ‘flagged for removal’ almost as soon as they appear. Kudos to the Floridian Red-Xers!

  • HollywoodGuy

    If I remember correctly, didn’t Megan Shields’s daughter commit suicide back in 2004?

    • Graham

      Yes. I think Skip Press mentioned that some hours ago.

  • Ella Raitch

    From Hubbard College of Administration

    Learning is measured by testing on materials studied, but most importantly by assessing whether or not the individual can produce the results expected from the application of what he or she has learned in real life situations.

    I hope ‘effective workplace communication’ isn’t one of the subjects they offer.

  • Jgg2012

    “acute bronchitis with reactive airways, as well as bilateral serous otitis media” I thought that clears were free from such things. After all, they don’t even need glasses.

  • Jgg2012

    Wait a sec. If he’s to ill to travel for a deposition, wouldn’t he be too ill to travel to Clearwater for an arbitration hearing? And is there anyone else who could sit in for him?

  • I’m so excited about the book !! Sure wish I lived in Los Angeles so I could attend the book tour !! Darn it .

  • GrandEclectus

    Wait a minute…if he’s sick in any way, doesn’t that mean it’s HIS FAULT and he needs more programming (that he has to pay for?) He’s not a very good scamtologist! RPF for him!
    And evidently, Scientology makes you fat too.