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Here’s how you can help make a difference in lives touched by Scientology


[Tom DeVocht, in a scene from Going Clear]

The Underground Bunker has a pretty great record when it comes to helping people raise money.

Even before this place opened, over at the Village Voice, our readers came through in 2012 with an amazing display of generosity and helped Marc and Claire Headley raise about $40,000 in just a couple of days. The Headleys had spent their savings, borrowed from friends, sold an automobile and even a swing set so they could pay off attorney’s fees that the Church of Scientology was holding over their heads. (The church offered to forgive the debt if the Headleys would agree to spy on other ex-church members. Turning down that offer, the Headleys paid the money and then shared with us the letter from the church spelling out that offer.) After paying the church its fees, the Headleys put up a fundraising page and we publicized it. Soon, our readers helped make them whole, and we had established a precedent.

Since then, we’ve been happy to help people raise money. One of the most significant was the rapid collection for Phil and Willie Jones as they asked us to help them publicize their goal of putting up a billboard in Los Angeles to bring attention to Scientology’s policy of disconnection. And just last week, Fred Haseney asked us to help him get the word out about his fundraiser to pay for his attorney, Graham Berry, as he fights the church’s attempt to slap him with a restraining order because he photographs church activities in Los Angeles.

Now, we wanted to update you about two new fundraising campaigns we haven’t been asked to help with, but we wanted to make sure you knew about them anyway.

Last night, Tom DeVocht put up a fundraising page to pay for attorney’s fees in the fight he’s going through over custody of his infant daughter. Tom is probably best known for his star turn in Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear. DeVocht really steals the show several times as he recalls what it was like to work closely with Scientology leader David Miscavige. (He also has a significant appearance in Louis Theroux’s upcoming film, My Scientology Movie.)


But if you know Tom and follow him on Facebook, you’ve become aware of just how thrilled he is to be a father for the first time. He adores his daughter Ellie, and loves sharing her latest antics on video. And not everyone might be aware that Tom has gone through a difficult split with Ellie’s mother, and that Tom is fighting for custody. There’s much more from Tom at the page he’s set up. And while it’s not Scientology related, we want you to be aware of what Tom is going through, and we hope you can help him out.

The other fundraising campaign that we’d like to see succeed has been going on for several weeks. Victoria Britton, despite all the work she’s done in the courts and the media to bring attention to the 2007 death of her son, Kyle Brennan, needs help paying for a headstone to mark his grave.

As we did in April, we’ll quote Joe Childs from a Tampa Bay Times article, which does a good job summarizing quickly the background on Kyle’s death.

In 2006, Denise [Gentile, David Miscavige’s twin sister] started taking classes at Flag to become an auditor again. One of the people she audited during training was Scientologist Tom Brennan, a handyman who worked at her rentals. In February 2007, Brennan told Denise he was concerned about his son, Kyle, 20, who was visiting from Virginia. Kyle didn’t look good and had been seeing a psychiatrist, he told Denise. Scientologists believe psychiatry and psychotropic drugs are evil — like street drugs. Denise thought Kyle may have gotten hooked on street drugs. Brennan and Denise phoned Kyle’s mother and urged her to send him to Narconon, the drug treatment program affiliated with the church. Kyle’s mother refused. (All of this was later recounted in sworn testimony from Denise and Brennan.) Thomas Brennan locked Kyle’s antidepressant medication, Lexapro, in his car trunk. Brennan later found Kyle dead of a gunshot wound in his apartment. The first person Brennan called was Denise Gentile. Then he called 911.

Clearwater police ruled the death a suicide. Kyle’s mother, who is not a Scientologist, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Gentiles, Brennan and Scientology’s Flag Service Organization. She alleged the Gentiles persuaded Brennan to take away Kyle’s medication, contributing to his death. The suit was dismissed in 2011, in part because Brennan said his son voluntarily turned over his medicine.

That lawsuit also resulted in a bizarre legal Catch-22 for Victoria’s attorney, Ken Dandar, who found himself being sued by Scientology simply because he was representing Victoria in court. At one point, Dandar was facing ruination in the form of a $1 million judgment. But that was later vacated by a higher court. It’s a long story and one we’ve covered extensively.

It’s stunning to think, after all that Victoria has been through, that she needs help getting a headstone for Kyle. We hope you can help her out — she needs only a little more than a thousand dollars to reach her goal. We’d love to see a patented Bunker bump to get that over the finish line quickly.


Aussie taxpayer money funding Scientology schools

There’s a very interesting report from the Sydney Morning Herald today about Scientology’s front group Applied Scholastics, two suburban schools that use Scientology tech, and taxpayer money.

Journalist Eryk Bagshaw ran the numbers, and found that with what the schools are charging for tuition, on top of what they get in state funding, students at the Applied Scholastics schools receive far more per student than at many Australian public schools.

Naturally, the schools pulled out the “we’re secular and not part of the Church of Scientology” excuse, but you can bet that David Miscavige is boasting at events that the schools have figured out a way to double-dip the Australian taxpayer while Scientology continues its “expansion.”


Short movie based on ‘Blown for Good’ gets festival

The “Brainwash Movie Festival” sounds pretty unique. Now in its 22nd year, the festival is held outdoors in Oakland, and the public is encouraged to “drive-in, bike-in, or walk-in” to catch the “truly independent” films that are shown.

On Saturday, July 30, one of those films will be Escape, produced by Karla Zamudio and directed by Rachael Meyers, which adapts some of the material from Marc Headley’s 2009 book, Blown for Good.

So hey, if you’re in Oakland, get on your fixie and pedal over.


Mike Rinder on the Silver Mullet

We enjoyed Mike Rinder’s blog post today, not only for what it said about Dan Sherman, David Miscavige’s speechwriter, but also to see Mike recommend Russell Miller’s Bare-Faced Messiah. Mike’s audience is much more heavily skewed to people with affinity for L. Ron Hubbard and “the old days” of Scientology. And reading Miller is something many of them resist. We give Rinder points for potentially alienating some of them by suggesting they read this excellent book.

Also, Mike somehow left out one of the most fun things about Dan Sherman’s career as Hubbard’s official “biographer.” Steve Hall, like Rinder, assured us that the church can never publish the official church biography that Sherman has supposedly been working on for decades. But Hall also told us that Sherman claimed that through past-life auditing, he had discovered that he was the actual author of Genesis.

Does he get royalties for that?


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on July 12, 2016 at 07:00

E-mail 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. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated 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 L.A. 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

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | 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 | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | 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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