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Scientology’s 2015 in review: Our July travels, and the day care story we can’t forget


We want to thank everyone who’s been sending us warm holiday wishes. We apologize that we’ve been slow to respond to messages. Like everyone else, we have a lot going on in our subterranean lair during these final days of the year. But in the meantime, we continue to look back at the stories that made this such an exceptional year. In this post, we’re looking at the stories of July.

We started out the month with a question. We know that Marty Rathbun has said that L. Ron Hubbard never wrote any “OT” levels above OT 8, which is the highest that Scientologists can currently achieve. (At an incredible price. Marc Headley estimated that it costs between $500,000 and $2 million to become an OT 8, considering all of the course prices, accommodation costs, and donations that a typical member pays.) Hubbard claimed that the “Bridge” would go up to OT 15, eventually. But even if he never wrote anything above OT 8, what, we wondered, would actually stop Scientology’s current leader, David Miscavige, from inventing OT 9 and OT 10?

Those two levels are supposed to be released together, and more and more we’d seen rumors and hints from inside the church that Miscavige was preparing to release them. (And since then, he’s made the actual announcement.) In July, we asked Claire Headley for her thoughts. She agreed with us that nothing is stopping Miscavige from releasing his own versions of OT 9 & 10. And charging huge amounts for them, of course.

The next day, we decided we couldn’t let well enough alone and expressed our doubts over Sun magazine’s announcement (yet again) that Tom Cruise was leaving Scientology. We pointed out that the magazine had not a shred of evidence that it was true, but we knew our efforts were mostly pointless. Many other outlets, even some semi-legitimate, took the Sun announcement as gospel. Well, at least our readers had some chance of remaining more skeptical.

On July 5, David Miscavige was in Bogotá to open Colombia’s Ideal Org. We were fortunate to have a correspondent on the scene who did his best to get us photographs and live updates while being intimidated and harassed by Scientology’s operatives.

Three days later, we published a story we’ve been hoping to tell for a long time. It was about the horrific experience of a Scientologist mother who learned that the church was actively covering up a terrible crime — the molestation of children who had been cared for at a Scientologist day care. We hope some day to reveal who the players in this saga were. For now, we managed to tell a story that we never expect other media to attempt.

The next day, we provided the first full telling of Brian Sheen’s story, including his extensive background in Scientology and his daughter’s forced disconnection from him. Expect to hear a lot more from Mr. Sheen in the new year.

On July 14, Mark Bunker made a visit to Scientology’s new Potemkin Village in Clearwater, and he sent us his impressions of the storefronts, one of which is in the space where the Lisa McPherson Trust had been.

Our book tour resumed in July, with stops in Washington DC and at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut. Then we headed west for a stop in Denver. What great fun it was to hang out with the Headleys, be introduced by Chris Shelton, and have a drink with Kim O’Brien and Chocolate Velvet.

We then flew down to Dallas and spent some time with Steve Hall, who told us a great story about David Miscavige’s speechwriter, the bemulleted Dan Sherman. Our rental car also took us to stops in Houston, San Antonio, and Austin before flying home and then, the next day, on to Paris to see Jonny Jacobsen. What a month for the tour!


While we were on the road, we relied on the help of our correspondents, and Aaron Smith-Levin really came through. He interviewed fellow former church member Nick Lister as part of their “Growing up in Scientology” series. Nick revealed that Tom Cruise had put ethics ruthlessly on his own family, banishing a teenage niece for committing the “crime” of kissing a boy. What a tool.

On July 24, another person who had grown up in Scientology, Derek Bloch, gave us a piece that ruffled some feathers. Piecing together the wacky information in numerous L. Ron Hubbard lectures and books, Derek put together an overview of Scientology’s cosmology. It was ludicrous, as you could imagine. And we heard from some former Scientologists who didn’t appreciate it. Well, blame Hubbard.

And a few days later, we turned once again to the subject of Scientology’s bizarre underground vaults, where they store Hubbard’s writings and lectures to survive a nuclear holocaust. Scientology had published a new piece about the vaults, giving us some new looks at what’s in them. Also, our own Observer had visited another of the Church of Spiritual Technology sites: Creston Ranch, where L. Ron Hubbard left this planet for Target Two.

A LOOK BACK AT JULY 2014: Our Independence Day special, when Jeremy Powers defied disconnection and came home. We said goodbye to John Joseph, a man who cared. Camilla Andersson went public after 29 years in Scientology. And we live-blogged ID network’s show on Elli Perkins (which featured your proprietor).

A LOOK BACK AT JULY 2013: Leah Remini defects, Shelly Miscavige speaks, Jim Lynch exteriorizes, and Christian Stolte rocks.

BEST OF 2015: Our personal picks for stories we’re most glad we got to write this year:

January: Being on the scene to write about the Going Clear Sundance premiere
February: A shocking tale of Scientology mistreatment of the mentally ill in Tennessee and Arkansas
March: Sylvia DeWall is declared and faces the loss of her family, and we get to hear it on audio
April: We dig up the true story of Tom Cruise and Mimi Rogers
May: Paulette Cooper appears in Hollywood two blocks from Big Blue
June: Scientology illegally hacks Mike Rinder and your proprietor with a PI who takes the fall
July: Scientology’s little day care of horrors



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.

Our book tour is concluded for now. (But you can re-experience it through this nifty interactive map!) We’ll let you know about future appearances. Previous events: 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), Portland (9/27), Seattle (9/28), Vancouver BC (9/29), Sydney (10/23), Melbourne (10/25), Adelaide (10/28), Perth (10/30)


Posted by Tony Ortega on December 27, 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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