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‘Going Clear’ subject Tom DeVocht gets a lesson in Scientology’s social media surveillance

Tom DeVocht

Tom DeVocht

We’ve been telling you that Scientology’s reaction to Alex Gibney’s film Going Clear has been a burst of “Fair Game” activity that’s affecting numerous people involved with the film. This is behind-the-scenes stuff that isn’t obvious from what’s getting more attention from the press — the silly letters and videos Scientology has been posting to its Freedom magazine website.

One of the people feeling the heat has been Tom DeVocht, who is featured prominently in the film. Sure, he’s getting smeared at the Freedom website, but they’re the same old slanders that have been thrown at him for years, some of it aimed at him previously on anonymous attack websites that we always assumed the church was secretly running.

What isn’t so obvious is that he’s been dealing with an increase in the usual private eye nonsense that he and Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder and the other former high-ranking church executives regularly put up with. DeVocht told us details about that harassment that we agreed not to share for privacy reasons, but it’s mostly the stuff you’d expect from Scientology — attempts to disrupt DeVocht’s livelihood and relationships, a constant reminder that he’s still a target merely for speaking out.

But then, something really unusual happened, some of which he talked about last night on Facebook. We called him to get the whole story and he filled us in on yet another example of Scientology’s toxic “disconnection” policy.

Tom was a Sea Org executive who oversaw the construction and renovation projects at the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida. It was a key position, and it enabled him to get very close to David and Shelly Miscavige. Tom left Scientology in May 2005, and in 2009 he took part in the epic series at the Tampa Bay Times, “The Truth Rundown” which revealed that Miscavige was beating his top lieutenants and housing them in a prison called “The Hole.”

That’s made Tom one of the most targeted former members for private eye investigation, surveillance, and harassment. It also resulted in his sister, Nancy, disconnecting from him.


“My sister Nancy was Mike Rinder’s communicator when he was running the Office of Special Affairs,” Tom tells us. He only found out recently that because Nancy visited him after he left the church, she was sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force — a special prison detail only for Sea Org workers — and it cost her four years of her life.

And you wonder how Scientology keeps its members disconnected from “suppressive persons” like Tom DeVocht.

Tom tells us that Nancy has a daughter, Marina, who also had to cut him out of her life. Marina is about 30 years old and lives in the Midwest, and she’s another family member that he’s had to assume he’ll never hear from again. But then, recently, she shocked Tom by “friending” him on Facebook.

DeVocht immediately realized what the consequences of that might be.

He messaged his niece, asking for her phone number so he could call her. Once she did, he called her, and while on the phone, he “unfriended” her. He explained that he was under constant surveillance, and it would be noticed that she had reached out to him. Marina herself is only tangentially involved in the church, Tom explained to us, but she was still expected not to have any contact with her uncle.

“We were Facebook friends for no more than about an hour. But that was enough,” he says.

What he means is that Scientology operatives watch social media with intense scrutiny. And sure enough, there were consequences for his niece reaching out to him. A day later, he got this text from her…

“Mom called and an MAA [a Scientology “Master At Arms”] told her that I had you on my Facebook so I had to lie to her…. She told me to go a site [Freedom magazine’s website] because it will tell me what you did and why you are attacking the church. I know you told me but I still need to understand more. I do not like to lie especially to my mom but you’re my family. This isn’t easy for me. Thanks.”

DeVocht tells us he was grateful to catch up with his niece for the first time in a decade, but he’s worried about the consequences. By asking Marina to read the smears about her uncle at Freedom, her mother is enforcing disconnection. Now that Marina has made contact with her uncle, she doesn’t want to lose contact with him, but he’s tried to make her understand how Scientology’s toxic policy might roll out.

“My sister disconnected from me, so yeah, there’s a possibility that she’ll disconnect from her own daughter. I hope it doesn’t happen,” Tom says. “And do you know how many people who have left Scientology have to go through this? It happens all the time.”

DeVocht says it’s a constant presence in the life of current and former Scientologists. They constantly wonder, who will be told to cut off all ties with them next?

“They’re either going to force my niece to disconnect from me completely, or my sister will disconnect from her,” he says.

And it once again reinforces for him the resources Scientology expends to watch former members.

“You sometimes think they probably aren’t watching all that closely. Fuck me, they are watching that closely.”


Sunday Funnies

Just a few items for you this week.

Hey, Tim Bowles! As in the former law partner of Snow White unindicted co-conspirator Kendrick Moxon! Tim’s been brought to cause!


Silli answers to funny questions: What is OT??


Do you have the courage to write a big, fat check?


Can you imagine how much the Cardones are looking forward to this fundraiser?


Yeah, pretty much every morning we can’t get out of bed until we’ve asked ourselves, “Should I survive?”


Oh yeah, you know you want parenting advice from Scientology.


We’d like to hear from a former member just what a seminar like this is like.


Yay! Learning how to learn in the Twin Cities!


Thanks again to our great tipsters!


Bonus photos from our tipsters

More photos from the events last night at Ruth Eckerd Hall and the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater!


Ooh! Some shots inside Ruth Eckerd Hall last night which give you a pretty good idea of just what a small venue it is (capacity is only about 2,100). These photos were posted by someone from the Calcutta Dianetics Center who was in Clearwater for the celebration. Now, if we only had a shot of Dan Sherman and his silver mullet!


Get your checkbooks out! A model of the L. Ron Hubbard Hall, going in next to the Super Power building, has been unveiled…


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 March 15, 2015 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 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 mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ


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