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Garcias file notice of appeal with the Eleventh Circuit, take on two more specialist attorneys

Luis_Rocio_Garcia3After Judge James Whittemore granted the Church of Scientology’s motion to compel Luis and Rocio Garcia to take their complaints to the church’s internal arbitration, we wondered — would they really go through with Scientology arbitration, or would they appeal?

The Garcias are former longtime Scientologists who filed their fraud lawsuit against Scientology in January 2013, alleging that they had been lied to, for example, about how money they donated would be used.

From the first, they said their dispute was about fraud, not religion, and they tried not to get into a dispute about Scientology beliefs and practices. But the church countered that the Garcias had signed contracts which required them to take all disputes to an arbitration process, and asked Judge Whittemore to compel the Garcias to use that process rather than have a trial in civil court.

The Garcias lined up top former Scientology officials who said that the contracts were bogus — there is no arbitration scheme, and the documents had been written in a way to keep former Scientologists from ever getting their money back. But Whittemore ultimately decided that he couldn’t make judgments about Scientology’s contracts and arbitration because it took him into First Amendment waters, and could violate Scientology’s religious rights.

The Garcias filed a motion to reconsider, saying that Whittemore had improperly stated in his order that the Garcias accepted that Scientology was a religion. But Whittemore denied that motion. And so now the Garcias have filed a notice that they plan to appeal to the Eleventh Circuit both Whittemore’s order to compel them into arbitration and their motion for reconsideration.

They also provided notice that two attorneys — specialists in appeals — are joining their team. One of them is Rebecca Mercier Vargas, and the other is Jane Kreusler-Walsh, who has been called “the Appellate Queen” in the press. Hey, that’s interesting.


We’re looking forward to reading whatever appeal brief they come up with. We have to admit that we were surprised by Whittemore’s decision, and mainly for this reason. For more than two years, he had been a meticulous, demanding judge in the lawsuit, berating each side for not filing briefs in exactly the way he wanted. He also held two separate evidentiary hearings on Scientology’s arbitration motion, and yet, ultimately he issued an order he could have written shortly after Scientology originally submitted its motion. What was all that hoop-jumping for if Whittemore was merely going to say he couldn’t go into the details of Scientology’s arbitration rules? We’re still mystified by that one. We have no idea, however, if an appeals court will find it reversible.


Narconon rejected in Canada, again

Just a few days after a county council in Maryland denied Scientology a zoning change it needed to put in a rehab clinic, the same Scientology entity, Social Betterment Properties International, was denied a zoning change by the Ontario Municipal Board for a rehab clinic it wanted to put into the Canadian town of Milton.

In October, Scientology leader David Miscavige announced to his followers that Scientology would open a new set of “Ideal” Narconon rehab clinics around the world. But three of them — in Australia, Canada, and Maryland — have been denied the zoning or permits they need to open for business. We can’t remember a Miscavige initiative running into this kind of interference in a long time, if ever. We expect that he’ll just redouble his efforts. But in the wake of the film Going Clear, public awareness has reached such a level, it’s getting difficult for Scientology to rely on its time-tested techniques. This is getting interesting.


Karen de la Carriere on Scientology’s obsession with sex and abortion

Karen takes us into one of Scientology’s darkest corners.



Scientology staff love story resulting in deluge of support at GoFundMe

Mark Ebner found another winner today. A “supervisor” at the Vancouver Org, Lyanna Smith, and an “SEO expert” at the Nashville Celebrity Centre, Erick Racedo, say they fell in love long-distance, and then when they met for the first time in November 2013, Erick proposed on the spot. Aww. Now, they want to get married, but when you’re both staff members at Scientology centers making pennies an hour, that’s a big task. (Staff members sign 2.5- or 5-year contracts, so their situation is not quite so dire as for Sea Org members, who wouldn’t have access to the Internet anyway, so you’re less likely to see something like this for Sea Org members.)

So they put up a GoFundMe page, naturally, but for some reason it hasn’t resulted in a pile of money just yet. (Note on staff pay: We’re told that this is variable. When an org is doing well, staff members can make near minimum wage — Marc Headley says when he was on staff at a busy org, he was taking home $200 a week for only part time work. But for the most part, staff members make even less than Sea Org workers, toiling for pennies an hour, and often get no pay at all. So staff members tend to have a second, non-Scientology job to supplement what they make.)

Enjoy their fun video and soak up the Scientology love…


(PRIVATE MESSAGE TO LYANNA: Girl, you sure he’s straight?)


Bonus photos from our tipsters

Hey, everybody! Dom Castronovo at the New York org is going to learn to learn! This is major!


Alert: Sounds like “Road to Rights” is yet another Scientology front group offshoot. Road to Rights person Ashan Perera posts his images from a recent human rights summit…


Scientology actress Michelle Stafford has a new show starting, and she posted this ad for it on her Instagram today. What kind of a mystery sandwich is it going to be?



We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together an index for The Unbreakable Miss Lovely and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.

Our upcoming appearances (and check out the interactive map to our ongoing tour)…

June 11: New York City (with Paulette Cooper) 5:30 to 7 pm. Private book party.

June 20: Chicago (with Christian Stolte) The Annoyance Theater, 5pm: This event is SOLD OUT.

June 22: Toronto (with Paulette Cooper) Toronto Public Library, 40 Orchard View Blvd, 7:30 pm, sponsored by the Centre for Inquiry-Canada

June 23: Toronto (with Paulette Cooper) The “Getting Clear” conference

June 28: Clearwater, Florida (with Paulette Cooper) Clearwater Public Library, 2 pm, sponsored by Center for Inquiry-Tampa Bay

July 12: Washington DC, Center for Inquiry (with Paulette Cooper)

July 14: Hartford, MARK TWAIN HOUSE (with Tom Tomorrow)

July 17: Denver

July 20: Dallas

July 22: Houston

July 24: San Antonio

July 25: Austin

August 4: London (with John Sweeney)

September 16: Arizona State University


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 10, 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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