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More testimony that Scientology’s celebrities know all about Sea Org deprivations

Lorna_CarletonWe like to keep an eye on litigation involving the Church of Scientology, so we were interested to see the news yesterday that a woman in British Columbia has filed a lawsuit in order to get back about $86,000 that she says she’s owed by the church.

But then we got Lorna Carleton on the phone, and realized that her story is more interesting than just the money she’s trying to get back.

Lorna tells us that she had been living in northern British Columbia when, in 1988, she moved down to the town of Kelowna on Okanagan Lake and it was there that she met an OT 3 at a dance club.

The man (who had achieved the level of Operating Thetan Level Three, one of the higher, secretive levels of Scientology achievement) introduced her to the idea of Dianetics and then took her to the org in Vancouver.

A week later, she was on staff.

But she wanted us to understand that her career in Scientology was not a smooth one. She says she was declared an “illegal PC” three separate times, and was on and off staff. She was even, at one time, a member of the Sea Org.


She was still “flowing money” to the Vancouver org as recently as 2013. But last year, she looked up a friend she had known in Scientology, and he shared with her something he had written. And that changed everything.

Doug Davidson had written a lengthy “Debbie Cook” letter. Cook, a longtime Scientology executive who ran the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida for 17 years, stunned Scientologists by sending out a lengthy accusatory letter on New Year’s Eve, 2012, announcing the ways that Scientology was being corrupted by its current leader, David Miscavige. Since then, it’s become somewhat customary for Scientologists to announce that they’ve gone “independent” with lengthy pronouncements listing their grievances.

Davidson’s announcement was focused on the problems he had seen over the years in the Vancouver area specifically, but it contained many of the same kinds of complaints that Cook had brought up. For many Scientologists who have left in recent years, they felt the organization was getting away from what founder L. Ron Hubbard had intended as Miscavige altered technical procedures and put a heavier emphasis on fundraising.

For Lorna, Davidson’s letter was a revelation. She says that within a week of reading it last summer, she was auditing with Davidson in Grand Forks, B.C., and never turned back. She had become an independent Scientologist.

And she wanted the money back that she’d put on account at the church. She now knew that she’d never take the courses at the org that she’d already paid for, so she wanted those funds returned. She got the run-around from the Vancouver org, so she had an attorney send a letter. When that didn’t help, she went to a litigation attorney, who let the church know in December that they intended to sue.

Lorna says she has about $38,000 on account at the Vancouver org (Day and Foundation). And she’s also asking for $5,000 she gave to “Ideal Org” projects, $20,000 to the International Association of Scientologists, and another $20,000 for book donations and other campaigns.

“It’s roughly $86,000 altogether. But I’m not asking for any money I spent on courses, or for back staff pay,” she says. Her lawsuit was filed in Kamloops Supreme Court, but the church hasn’t responded yet.

Her attorneys had been getting responses to their letters from Gary Soter, the Los Angeles attorney who often represents the church. “I was really shocked that that’s who the Vancouver church would go to,” Lorna says. “Why would they risk the bad PR and not just give me my money? Why let it go to litigation?”

Meanwhile, the Scientologists she knew at the Vancouver org have all distanced themselves from her. “The rumor is that Lorna has gone crazy,” she says with a laugh.

Asked what it was that she saw in the church that drove her away, Lorna said she was affected by “the insane way they treat people. I don’t want to belong to a place that treats people like they do in the Sea Org.”

In 2011, Lorna went as a “public” Scientologist to the American Saint Hill Organization (ASHO) at the “Big Blue” complex in downtown Los Angeles, and she says she was so impressed by how hard the Sea Org members worked, she decided to give it a go herself. She was a Sea Org worker at ASHO from April 2011 to March 2012.

“I always read that Sea Org workers get 50 bucks a week — but that’s generous. For 19 weeks straight we didn’t get paid at all,” she says. She explains that ASHO had obligations to send money uplines. And when income was down, they’d be told there just wasn’t enough left over to pay them.

“Sea Org members have to buy their own toothbrushes and toothpaste and soap — and it can’t have any scent, so you have to buy the more expensive kind with what little money you have,” she explains. “But if there’s no staff pay, how could you even buy necessities? And women needed tampons, so they had to roll up toilet paper because they couldn’t buy any.”

Or there were times when workers needed medical care with no way to pay for it. “We weren’t getting paid. And a guy would say, please, can I have some money to go to the dentist. The guy would be in agony, but first we had to send money uplines to Flag. He’d just have to wait,” she says.

We have to stop and consider that Lorna is talking about a facility in the middle of the second most populous city in the US. It’s truly amazing to think about that kind of deprivation being practiced by a wealthy organization without consequences in a place like Los Angeles.

Lorna says if ASHO didn’t spend much on its employees, it did spend pretty lavishly on events. “ASHO’s portion for putting on an event at the Shrine Auditorium would be $60,000,” she says. Her position, she explains, was to make sure that things were set up properly for celebrities at the events. “I put on the graduations on a weekly basis. I had people like Chill EB, Nancy Cartwright, Denise and Michael Duff to take care of. I had to set up the ice sculptures and the fancy foods. And if a Sea Org worker was caught even taking a glass of water off of those tables, they’d be in big trouble.”

Her typical day went from 8 in the morning to 11 pm or midnight, and special projects couldn’t cut into that time. “If they needed a new rug put in, some members would have to do that in the middle of the night so it didn’t cut into production,” she says.

And she tells us about a specific example she was involved in. At one point, a film was being made on L. Ron Hubbard Way, and it featured Nancy Cartwright. But because of Sea Org hours, they had to get up at 5 am and shoot the scenes at 6 am so they could still make their 8 am muster.

Wait, we asked, are you saying that Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, was out on L. Ron Hubbard Way at 6 in the morning shooting scenes for some internal Scientology movie, because the crew all had to be at their regular jobs by 8 am?

“Yes,” she says. And it was clear to Cartwright that the reason for the ungodly shooting time was because of the Sea Org members and their long hours? “Nancy had to know,” Lorna adds.

At the other end of the day, ASHO workers couldn’t go to bed until they had fulfilled some mission — convincing some public member to make a donation to the IAS, for example, or to buy a book. Only then could they get some sleep. “I would buy a ten dollar book from someone just so they could get some sleep,” she says.

Lorna was in the Sea Org in Los Angeles for a relatively short time. But even joining staff at an org in Canada came with its difficulties. At one point, when she was being recruited to join staff, she was a single mom with three sons. She says she was heavily pressured to give up her children to their father so she could work at the org full time.

“I was told it was wrong for me to be a single mom, that I should be a staff member,” she says. So she sent her sons away. “It shattered our lives. They made me feel guilty to be a mom.”

Her middle son passed away a few years ago, but her oldest and youngest sons have never been Scientologists, and she says she can count on them for support today. But otherwise, she’s on her own. “I have no money. I gave it all to the church. I’m starting over again from scratch,” she says, but she sounds remarkably upbeat about it.

“Thank God I came to my senses, eh?”


Nancy’s skill as a sculptor

You might have seen Nancy Cartwright being lionized in the press yesterday about the “Bartman” sculpture that she unveiled here in New York…


But we just wanted to remind you of Nancy’s previous effort, which was featured in what we dubbed the creepiest Scientology advertisement of all time…



Bonus photos from our tipsters

Yesterday, the town of Helena, Montana held its annual Vigilante Day Parade to welcome in the spring weather. And some of the youngsters who put together floats decided to honor a former local — L. Ron Hubbard, who spent a year at Helena High School in 1927-28. In fact the parade that year was something of a catalyst in his decision to ditch Helena High, as we explained in a recent story.

A snapshot of the float was posted to Instagram by someone who was apparently unfamiliar with that history. They captioned this, “Not sure what’s happening here”…


We went to the trouble to scan through the fixed-camera coverage of the parade provided by a local newspaper, and managed to catch this still, which doesn’t give us a much better look…


Those appear to be manual typewriters that the young men in suits are pounding away at on the front of the float. And it appears they’ve tried to recreate Hubbard’s office or something. But are those body thetans on the back of the float? We’d sure like to know. Hey, kids, tell us about your float!



On May 14, you will be able to purchase ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ from Amazon in either electronic or print format, and simultaneously in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

The book will not be available for pre-order before that date. It is going live for sale on Thursday, May 14, and not a moment earlier. And hey, that’s just a few weeks away, so you won’t have to wait long.

Our appearances…

May 16: Santa Barbara Humanist Society (with Paulette Cooper), 3:00 pm
May 17: Center for Inquiry-West Los Angeles, 4773 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, 11 am (with Paulette Cooper)
May 17: CFI Orange County (Costa Mesa), 4:30 pm (with Paulette Cooper)
May 20, San Diego We’re getting some help from locals trying to assist the San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry (SDARI) find a venue for us (appearance with Paulette Cooper)
May 22: San Francisco (with Jamie DeWolf and Paulette Cooper)

(Finalizing a New York City event in early June)

June 20: Chicago
June 22/23: Toronto (with Paulette Cooper)

June 27/28: Florida (with Paulette Cooper)

July 12: Washington DC, Center for Inquiry


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 2, 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

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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