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Scientology’s 2015: Another year is in the books at the Underground Bunker!


What a year it’s been. As 2015 slips away, we hope you celebrate another revolution around the Sun with good friends and good cheer. And as much fun as we hope to have, our celebrations will also be tinged with some regret: Somewhere, a youngster in the Sea Org’s RPF barely knows that tonight is special at all.

It’s pretty amazing that the Sea Org and the RPF and the toxic policy of disconnection still exist as 2016 begins, but this past year at least moved us closer to making the public much more aware of Scientology’s controversies. It’s easily been the most remarkable year of Scientology watching that we’ve ever experienced.

What will 2016 bring? We’ll worry about that tomorrow. Today, we celebrate.

Finishing out our year-end review, we’re looking back at the most significant stories that we covered in the last two months of 2015.


November came in with a crash as excitement over Leah Remini’s memoir Troublemaker built to a fever pitch. Two days before it hit bookstores, we provided some thoughts on what we found to be the most important takeaways in it, but we knew that the tabs would be more excited over cookie dough, tango lessons, and Suri lying on the ground. (Derp.) More importantly, the book surged to #1 on bestseller lists, and Leah brought in a whole new audience to the controversies we watch every day.

On November 4, we checked in with Mark Bunker to find out when he thought he might get us an edit of his documentary, “Knowledge Report” to look at (he tells us one is coming in May).

Two days later, we finally got news that we’d waited more than a year for. The Texas Third Court of Appeals had finally ruled on Scientology’s petition regarding its anti-SLAPP motion in Monique Rathbun’s lawsuit that had been denied by Comal County Judge Dib Waldrip. The appeals court sided with Waldrip, saying that it was pretty ridiculous that Scientology wanted its harassing of Monique to be considered protected free speech. (The Church of Scientology is petitioning the Texas Supreme Court for review of that decision, but it appears that the other defendants are not joining in that appeal.)

On November 10, we brought together several lines of evidence to show that David Miscavige is dealing with the mess that is Narconon by shaking up his troubled drug rehab system in a big way. He’s opening new, smaller-sized rehabs while jettisoning or de-emphasizing problematic clinics that have been hounded by lawsuits. Narconon 2.0 will be a boutique collection that will cater to VIPs.

Beginning on November 12 and continuing through December 5, we dealt with the 20th anniversary of Scientology’s most famous and grim scandal, the death of Lisa McPherson, by recounting it in real time. Day by day, relying on original police reports and other materials, we explored this story like we never have before. It turned out to be one of the most fulfilling experiences in our journalistic career, at the same time that it hammered home the tragedy of Lisa’s mistreatment.

As if to prove that Scientology has learned nothing from its past disasters, in November we learned of another tragedy, this time the overdose death of Tabatha Fauteux, a 26-year-old woman who had gone to Los Angeles to receive training from Scientology for her job at its south Texas drug rehab center. We’re still digging into the details of this incident.

On November 23, we noted that Moscow had banned Scientology in its ongoing dispute with the church. Jonny Jacobsen, our man in Europe, later wrote about the reasons he’s less sanguine about what the Russians are up to than what’s happening in Belgium and the Netherlands.

December started out with a surprise: We learned that the Legoland theme park in California had donated $10,000 to the Scientology front group Youth for Human Rights on behalf of Jenna Elfman, who had helped the theme park light its annual Christmas tree. Thanks, Legoland.

On December 9, we had another great document find by researcher R.M. Seibert. She turned up an FBI record that showed the agency had investigated Scientology’s bizarre vault in New Mexico from 1987 to 1989. Ultimately, a dispute over a road carved into public land was settled between the Scientologists and the BLM, ending the investigation.

And finally, with the year rapidly drawing to a close, we had one more big surprise for our readers, and perhaps our biggest story of 2015. We revealed that several Scientologists had been charged with felony counts in connection to running a Scientology drug rehab center in Compton, California, that used unwitting high school students to make bogus insurance claims with the state’s Medi-Cal program. Three prominent Compton educators were also charged, and lost their jobs, and Hanan Islam, who founded the rehab center, is facing four felony counts, while three of her children are also facing felony insurance fraud charges. We found out that the rehab center had been raided by the state in March 2014, and that charges had been coming for more than a year since then — this is a methodical investigation and prosecution, and we look forward to seeing where it goes in 2016.

Finally, someone in Scientology is facing criminal charges for practicing Scientology, while roping in local leaders in an audacious scam using high school kids. And you have only heard about these charges in one place — the Underground Bunker.

What a year. And we thank you for reading this website with such consistency and with so many comments. On to 2016!

A LOOK BACK AT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014: Leaked plans show that a new $37 million Scientology facility in Australia will serve only 87 people, on average, at any one time. Some great nuggets about L. Ron Hubbard turned up in Robert Heinlein’s letters collection. We learned how Scientology strains to erase Hubbard’s second wife, Sara Northrup, from the historical record, while Hubbard’s first wife, Polly, filed an affidavit that Hubbard was a deadbeat dad. We went long with the surprising saga of Richie Acunto’s rise and fall. And Marty Rathbun gets ambushed again, this time with Louis Theroux.

A LOOK BACK AT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013: Mike Rinder and Mike Bennitt in a helicopter over the Super Power party, our exclusive interview with Jacqueline Olivier, the principal at Will and Jada’s Scientology school, and we marked the actual 60th anniversary of the first ‘Church of Scientology.’

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
August: Why Steve Fishman — of the notorious Fishman papers — is today serving 21 years in prison
September: Jim Carrey’s girlfriend, Cathriona White, was a Scientologist on the SRD when she killed herself
October: The Leah Remini files: An exclusive look at the KRs that inform her memoir
November: Lisa McPherson: In real time, remembering Scientology’s grimmest scandal
December: Felony charges for Scientologists running a Compton rehab scam with corrupt educators



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 31, 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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