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‘Darth Xander’ files motion challenging Scientology’s anti-protesting injunction


On Friday, Illinois attorney Alex Hageli, better known by his nom de guerre “Darth Xander,” filed a motion with the Pinellas County Circuit Court in Florida asking to dissolve the permanent injunction that the Church of Scientology managed to get against the Lisa McPherson Trust back in 2001.

Hageli lives in Chicago, but he frequently travels to Clearwater, Florida to picket and videotape the key Scientology facilities of its “spiritual mecca,” and repeatedly he’s run into trouble because of the injunction, which was intended to regulate a completely different set of people from a very different time.

“I’m tired of having to talk about the injunction with Clearwater police, and I figured it would save me a lot of time in the long run if I just asked a judge to dissolve it,” Hageli tells us.

The Lisa McPherson Trust was founded in the wake of one of Scientology’s most notorious scandals, the 1995 death of a young woman from dehydration after she was housed for 17 days in isolation at the Fort Harrison Hotel, Scientology’s iconic location in its spiritual headquarters. Funded by millionaire businessman Bob Minton, the LMT leased an office just blocks away from the hotel and picketed church offices and otherwise tried to raise awareness about McPherson’s death and the ensuing litigation over it.


Scientology managed to get an injunction against the LMT which set complex rules for where demonstrations near its properties could take place, naming particular LMT figures, such as its videographer Mark Bunker. Members of the LMT faced stiff fines if they violated the terms of the injunction.

But more than a decade later, the LMT no longer exists and most of its members are no longer in the area. (Bunker himself recently moved back to Clearwater as he works on his documentary about Scientology, Knowledge Report.)

Hageli frequently demonstrates at Scientology facilities and videotapes Scientologists, but he had nothing to do with the LMT and he follows general legal guidelines, such as staying on a public sidewalk, where protesting is legal. But time and again, he’s found himself being hassled by police who seem to think the LMT injunction gives them the power to keep Hageli away from Scientology property.

Hageli tells us that Scientology’s Sarah Heller, the Legal Affairs Director of the church’s intelligence wing the Office of Special Affairs, tells police that Hageli is operating “in concert with” Bunker, and that makes him subject to the injunction.

Hageli shared with us a letter from Scientology attorney Wally Pope which makes the same claim, that Hageli is acting “in active concert or participation” with Bunker. Take a look for yourself…

Wally Pope Letter to Alex Hageli

These claims by Scientology have had a real effect on Hageli. He was arrested in March by a Clearwater police officer, Raniel Heredia, who believed the injunction gave him the right to make an arrest, even though Hageli was protesting on a public sidewalk. After an internal investigation, Heredia was found to have conducted an unlawful search and seizure against Hageli and was reprimanded. Here’s the report…

Officer Raniel Heredia Report

Tired of being harassed and arrested, Hageli has decided to challenge the injunction itself, asking a judge to review its terms. “[Hageli] is not a named party to the LMT Injunction, and has never acted in concert with, or as an agent of, any of the named parties with regard to matters covered by the injunction,” the motion says.

In it, Hageli argues that a permanent injunction only applies as long as the original conditions it was based on remain in place. But that’s not the case today. “The original circumstances surrounding the issuance of the LMT Injunction 14 years ago no longer exist. Of the named parties to the LMT Injunction, the Lisa McPherson Trust, Inc. no longer exists. Upon information and belief, named parties Jesse Prince, Grady Ward, Stacy Brooks, Jeff Jacobson, Patricia Greenway, Peter Alexander and [Tory Christman] no longer live in the Clearwater area. Only Mark Bunker currently resides in the Clearwater area. Robert S. Minton, Jr., the founder and primary financier of the Lisa McPherson Trust, Inc., is deceased,” the motion says.

But as long as the injunction exists, its misapplication is harming his free speech rights, Hageli asserts. And for that reason, he’s asking the court to dissolve it.

“I am as fascinated with the law as I am with Scientology, so this gives me the opportunity to work on two of my favorite things. I’m anxious to resolve this situation, both for myself and others who are worried the injunction might apply to them because they shook Mark Bunker’s hand or something. To be sure, getting arrested was an intellectually stimulating experience in its own right. I just prefer never to repeat it,” he tells us.

As for Bunker himself? “I wish him luck. When we talked to the chief of police and city attorney, they all told us point blank that they wanted the injunction in place. But if Alex can do it, I wish him godspeed,” he told us.

Please take a close look at Hageli’s motion, and give us your thoughts on it…

Alex Hageli's motion to dissolve LMT injunction


Our Pacific Northwest adventure is beginning!

Soon we’ll be having events in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. Hey, Canucks, please do us a favor and RSVP with the Seven Dining Lounge in Vancouver that you plan to be there (604-875-9006). They’d like to get a sense of how many people are coming.


Bonus photos from our tipsters

You know you want one…


Hey, it’s Mexico Night on the Freewinds!


OK, honest question. Who’s more gullible, Ukrainians or Taiwanese?




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 a complete index 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.

Tony Ortega’s upcoming appearances (and check out the interactive map to our ongoing tour)…

Sept 27: Portland, Friendly House, 1737 NW 26th Ave, 12:45 pm, sponsored by Humanists of Greater Portland

Sept 28: Seattle, Razzi’s Pizzeria, 7 pm, with Seattle Skeptics and Seattle Atheists

Sept 29: Vancouver, BC, Seven Dining Lounge, 7 pm

Oct 23: Sydney, Giant Dwarf Theatre (with Sen. Nick Xenophon)

Oct 25: Melbourne, venue secured (announcement coming later)

Oct 28: Adelaide, Wheatsheaf Hotel, (with Sen. Nick Xenophon)

Oct 30: Perth

Past dates: Santa Barbara (5/16), Hollywood (5/17), Orange County (5/17), San Diego (5/20), San Francisco (5/22), New York (6/11), Chicago (6/20), Toronto (6/22), Clearwater (6/28), Washington DC (7/12), Hartford (7/14), Denver (7/17), Dallas (7/20), Houston (7/22), San Antonio (7/24), Austin (7/25), Paris (7/29), London (8/4), Boston (8/24), Phoenix (9/15), Cleveland (9/23), Minneapolis (9/24)


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 26, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com 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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