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Aaron Smith-Levin appears on ‘Leah Remini,’ hours later gets own Scientology attack site


We were thoroughly blown away last night watching Aaron Smith-Levin talk about his family’s complex history in Scientology. We couldn’t believe how much territory Aaron and Leah Remini and Mike Rinder covered on the latest episode of Leah’s A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath, from the IRS granting Scientology tax exempt status in 1993, to Aaron breaking down as he described losing his twin brother in a car accident while they were separated by Scientology’s “disconnection” policy.

We wondered what the Church of Scientology was going to put up as a reaction to the show. We didn’t have to wait long. A couple of hours after the episode aired, the church posted a number of videos to the website it maintains to rebut Remini’s show.

Among the people Scientology convinced to talk on camera about Aaron were his wife’s mother and sister. (Aaron’s wife Heather didn’t speak for Leah’s show, but she has sided with her husband against the rest of her family.)

With glassy-eyed performances, Heather’s mother and sister robotically repeated claims that Aaron was a scary guy who snapped at them and was probably a danger to his own wife and kids.

It was unseemly. And it probably won’t get any traction. But we wanted to point something out.

Two years ago, we wrote about the Smith family drama, and our story was told to us by Gayle Smith, Aaron’s mother. If you look at that article today, you can see that Gayle’s story matches the one her son told on Leah’s show last night.

Also, this story has played out over several years, and many of us were privy to the details, including Mike Rinder, who has worked with Aaron in his corporate research business.

And if you have been around Aaron, you know what a detail-oriented guy he is, and what a stickler for the facts. We pointed this out a year ago when we published a “Knowledge Report” that Aaron gave us from his collection. So many of the people we talk to who worked in Scientology management had to escape with nothing but the clothes on their backs. But Aaron is one of the exceptions, and he has all of the “KRs” that he submitted.

The one he gave us describes in minute detail what happened when he had a disagreement with a work superior, Jon Lundeen, over a financial planning document. Aaron said in the report that there was so much frustration between the two over the document, Lundeen took a swing at him. Aaron put it down to the constant sleep deprivation Sea Org workers go through, and characterized it as typical of Sea Org work.

Now, Lundeen has showed up in one of the videos Scientology posted last night to attack Aaron’s credibility.

“He’s like a snake oil salesman and what he wanted you to see he did a brilliant job of selling you on it. In truth in life he was very different than that and he had volatility of emotions and could go from selling you on what he was doing and his production and his all these different attributes and instantly become the evil villain. And it was dramatic. It was like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde,” Lundeen says.

An “evil villain”? Similarly vague accusations are made in the other videos. But the stories that Aaron and his mother Gayle Smith have told are detailed, specific, and they agree in all of the details.

Scientology’s attack website wants its readers to believe that Aaron is hopeless as a father and is endangering the welfare of his children. We asked Aaron if he wanted to comment on the videos, and he sent us an earful. Well, that’s Aaron. We think his response is fascinating…

Erica Tozser (Sledge)

Erica is my sister-in-law. I feel sorry for her that she had to do this video. Fortunately, they didn’t make her say anything worse than “Aaron snaps at his kids and his wife.” I guess that’s the narrative they’re trying to discredit me with. But there’s a problem: Erica has been in the Sea Org at Flag since before Heather and I left the Sea Org in Los Angeles. The only time Erica has ever spent any time with me and my kids is at Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner, two times a year.

Erica says that before my wife met me she was very outgoing and dynamic, and after she married me that changed and Heather became withdrawn and fearful. Again, it’s weak sauce, but we still have a problem. Heather left home in California to go to the Delphi School in Portland, Oregon when Erica was about 6 years old. While Heather was at Delphi, Heather’s family moved to Clearwater, Florida. From Delphi, Heather went directly to the Sea Org in Los Angeles. Heather had almost zero physical contact with her sisters (less than once per year) until about 17 years later, in 2006, when Heather and I moved back to Clearwater. To get an idea of how little contact Heather’s family had with her after she left home, I didn’t even meet Heather’s father until after Heather and I were married. None of her family members attended our wedding in the Sea Org. I only met Heather’s father once between the time we were married, and when we left the Sea Org over 3 years later. When Heather and I moved back to Clearwater, Erica was already in the Sea Org at Flag, so we almost never saw her. These might seem like minor, maybe even petty points, but it just goes to show that the Church has taken someone who has no idea what Heather was like in her adult life, or what she was like after she married her first husband in the Sea Org, or what she was like after she married me…and have asked her to make statements that she should know, but doesn’t.

Anne Tozser

Anne is my mother-in-law. For context, between my mother-in-law Anne and my father-in-law Imre, Anne is the one who is 100 percent on the Kool-Aid; Imre is not quite as much the same way. For example, Anne is the one who will hide when my daughters go across the street to say hello. Imre won’t do that. I want to be upset by this video, but I’m not. Her will is not her own. If the best they could get her to say was “Aaron got angry at Imre. Aaron got angry at Katarina (Heather’s other sister). Aaron spanked his child. I can’t really be bothered to be upset by it.

Juliana Palmer

Juliana and I shared an office. We had the same post, but for opposite orgs (I was Day, she was Foundation). She and I were good friends. We got along great. We had trained at Flag together. I’ve known Juliana since 1995. It’s puzzling to me that Scientology regularly has the POW-style videos include obviously false generalities like, “He would only come out of his office to scream at staff,” “The area he was running never expanded,” “Nothing went well,” “He would never solve anything,” “He never fixed anything,” “he didn’t do anything, ever,” “From day one not a truthful person at all,” “He has always been angry about everything,” etc. These are comments made about a post I held for three straight years as one of the key executives in the organization. Similarly absurd statements have been made about people who held very senior international management positions for decades.

Such statements raise the question…if true, how could these executives have not only remained on their posts, but also get promoted during the time? The Church embarrasses itself by making such obviously false generalities.

Juliana makes the strange claim that I was somehow caught watching porn in the middle of the day. Not only are the people doing these POW videos living in a bubble that prevents them from knowing that the real world doesn’t give a damn about porn, but the statement is also easily proven false. Watching porn in the Sea Org gets you sent to the RPF. Not only was I never sent to the RPF, but I was also never reported in my entire Sea Org career for “watching porn”, much less in the middle of the day, in the org, on my computer. Oh wait…one more detail…THE COMPUTERS IN THE ORG HAD NO INTERNET ACCESS. That’s how dumb these videos are. You couldn’t get porn on an org computer if you wanted to.

At 2:25 of Juliana’s video she references an altercation between me and Jon Lundeen. Last year, Tony published a copy of the report I wrote about this incident. Compare Juliana’s version of the event to the report.

At 3:15 in Juliana’s video she says that when I found out my brother died, I didn’t care at all and actually laughed about it. You know…if I still had any feeling that these people were maybe just doing these videos against their will and perhaps they deserved some sympathy…that extinguished it. No decent human being would agree to utter such a disgusting lie about someone who used to be a good friend.

Jon Lundeen

Jon Lunden is actually a famous Sea Org member. His wife Edy Lundeen was a Class XII auditor, and later a reg for Flag. He worked on the Apollo. He was the Captain of ASHO Day, where I worked. He was my senior’s senior. Jon and I worked closely together. One thing I’ll grant…John and I both have healthy tempers, and there was a sort of mutual respect between us over that. We would argue about many things; but at least he knew I could dish it out as well as take it. He would say to me “if you would just direct some of that emotion towards your juniors instead of directing it at me, you could get more done.” It’s kind of ironic to hear him criticize me for having a short fuse. I actually respect the fact that John didn’t say anything too crazy other than mild insults about not being a particularly honest Sea Org member. Yawn. I literally worked with Jon Lundeen 7 days a week. He was the Captain. We spoke maybe 30 to 50 times per day for about 3 years. If that’s the best he’s got, I must have done pretty well.

I won’t bother commenting on the videos from Ben Francis or Julie McCloskey. Both were low-level staff members in another org who I had almost no contact with. They were Juliana’s junior’s junior’s junior, and had nothing to do with me.

What’s missing in these videos is “testimonials” from anyone who was either directly senior to me or directly junior to me. Come on now! Jon Lundeen had almost nothing unkind to say about me. They couldn’t get ANYONE from my own org, who worked directly above me or directly below me to talk trash about me on video? I guess I wasn’t such a bad Sea Org member after all.

Aaron also pointed out to us that Scientology’s website accuses Aaron of being the subject of a “federal investigation” regarding his work as a corporate researcher.

It’s just completely false. But what makes it interesting is that I was involved in investigating Herbalife, which is also something of a cult. And I was doing that work on behalf of Bill Ackman. And in response, Herbalife put up a hate website about Bill Ackman, just like Scientology does to its critics (

I had done a very public presentation with Bill exposing Herbalife as a pyramid scheme.

As a part of Herbalife’s counter-campaign against Bill, Herbalife tried to get the feds to “look into” the people who were doing work for him. Herbalife got newspapers to run headlines that the feds were looking into it. But the truth is it never happened. I never received so much as a letter from any state or federal agency asking me anything about any of the research I’d done for Bill. Herbalife’s lawyers sent me a very Scientology-like letter accusing me of all sorts of things, and sent copies to Fox Business and MSNBC to get them to comment on “the news”. But it was all bluster. Nothing ever happened.

Thanks for getting into that muck in order to help us understand what it’s like to be slimed, Aaron.

And here’s a piece of evidence you won’t see the Church of Scientology offer…




Go here to start making your plans.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on January 4, 2017 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, Kindle, and audiobook versions. 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.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

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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  • Jack99

    Hadn’t seen this before. The reviewers wished for more Leah Remini, ha ha.

  • Tanya Briggs

    I’ve been a lurker for years here as I have had an interest in Scientology since some friends of mine tried with all their might to get me to “listen” to their new religion come-on in the 70’s in Houston. Didn’t make sense to me even after reading the Dianetics and other stuff they gave me, but I was raised to question anyone or anything that discourages questions. LOL! I am a retired RN and am fascinated in how the hell Ron L Hubbard managed to do it all. All these years of reading, I am just not sure if the man really believed he was so “special” or was just a pure con man. There are medical diagnosis’s and there are nursing diagnosis’s. I don’t know what Hubbards dysfunction medically was or IF he actually had a “medical/mental problem…BUT clearly he knew what he was doing was wrong or he wouldn’t have done all he did to get away with everything he could. Nursing diagnosis would be “Alteration in Thought Processes” . I used to think that he was delusional…but after seeing these interviews on TV…clearly there was a plan a long time ago and power and manipulation seems to be the end game for Ron L. Hubbard and it seems that nothing has changed with the new “leader”. He is just a little bandy rooster that takes out his “issues” for his need for power and manipulation on everyone else to the demise of Scientology.

    Keep up the good work…and lets see a day when people can question and disagree without fear.

    • Juicer77

      Welcome, Tanya. I think you’re right. Hubbard knew it was all a con, until the end of his life when the delusions caught up with him and he believed it.

      • Tanya Briggs

        TY for welcome. Perhaps it is so interesting to me because I have a close family member and a few distant relatives that had some real delusional issues and I know how easy it is for a delusional person to eventually convince themselves that they “know” and they think if you don’t convince them they are wrong…they must be right after all. LOL!

        • Juicer77

          Sorry to hear this. It’s tough when loved ones have mental illness. Sometimes you have to laugh about it.

    • Rasha

      “I was raised to question anyone or anything that discourages questions”

      ^^^_^ THIS. Welcome, Tanya!

  • Still_On_Your_Side

    Aaron has a beautiful family. The world heard him report that his mother-in-law runs away from her grandchilden and then hides from them. After hearing that, who would believe anything she has to say.

    Miscavige is so divorced from reality he forgot one thing: if Aaron is allegedly a danger to his kids, why does his mother-in-law hide from those kids instead of “rescuing” them? The insanity of scientology gets clearer by the week to the many millions watching Leah and reading the Underground Bunker

  • smew

    Watching porn IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY?!?! Good God, man.

  • Rasha

    Blinky Yingling should enjoy her gains now. Approaching retirement, she knows her name will one day be inextricably linked with the cancer of Scientology. Can’t wait for her comments when Miscavige finally goes down… “Our client is wholly responsible for his actions. We just did our job.”

  • Jgg2012

    Is Monique going to give the money she receives to Davey?

  • Paula Deliberto

    As I have expressed before, Leah and Mike and Aaron Smith-Levin and all the others who left who are now helping to expose this craziness have BIG ones! I respect the hell out of that and keep pushing ahead. So happy for all of you as I’m sure this has been a very difficult road! Wow!

  • ComeToPresentTime

    One thing that was a bit of a missed opportunity in the episode was when Rinder talked about how the accumulation of all these shows, print articles and books exposing the COS will finally get enough people to stand up and say “this is INSANE”, they should’ve brought up Hubbard’s quote that addresses this specific eventuality.

    “Somebody some day will say ‘this is illegal.’ By then be sure the orgs [Scientology organizations] say what is legal or not.”

    Great series so far though, all in all. I feel like if gets to the emotional core of just how oppressive and devastating the COS is when it comes to families, when other documentaries and news stories about seem far more academic and detached, by comparison.

  • aurabass


    It appears from here that the 2 million viewers of AFTERMATH and the 5 million (as of Apr 2015) viewers of GOING CLEAR have achieved a CRITICAL MASS here to fore unknown in the Anti-SCN movement. With SCN down to something under 30,000 active members there are likely more ex-SCN and disaffected SCN people than actives and of those actives I would be surprised if David Miscavige has even a majority in support (particularly if every SEA ORG member was forced to view AFTERMATH and GOING CLEAR.

    Has Miscavige backed himself into a corner where the dwindling support has made him vulnerable? I think so. No reason to think that the interviewees on AFTERMATH are lying about the DM management style and that style is not conducive to continued support when push comes to shove. What would it then take to remove DM from power and sieze control of the 3 billion in assets?

    Here’s a copy of a post I made to Mike Rinder’s blog in answer to his reply to a previous post – like the first email I sent to you

    Mike Rinder says
    January 6, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Why don’t Rinder, Rathbun, Ortega, Rimini, and the former executives join Jackson and simply seize control of the church by filing suit in California to challenge the dictatorship of Miscavige? Insist that DM cease and desist from disbursement of any funds or properties while legal proceedings are in progress.

    First, have absolutely NO inclination to be involved in scientology, least of all to be involved in organized scientology which I think should be disbanded
    Second, this is a fool’s errand that will never come to pass. People have been talking about this for years. It won’t work.
    Thirdly, if I had a couple of million dollars to engage in this sort of litigation, I would spend it on something far more remunerative than lawyers.

    Mike – I don’t want you to embrace SCN again – I simply see that you are a powerful competent leader with the potential to inspire thousands to organize in the wake of AFTERMATH. Claiming standing as a SCIENTOLOGIST for the purposes of organizing a movement to eliminate Miscavige is a good thing. That 3 billion in assets should not be controlled by that monster. I think you know that. Those assets should be used for good – and DM is using them for evil.

    If you can help Leah, Tony Ortega, and Marty Rathbun – the people who do Clambake and Ex SCn forum – and every disaffected former SEA ORG member organize a strong visible OCCUPATION of LA and CLEARWATER and Gold Base by publicizing dates and times for people to gather and move on those facilities it is quite likely that the legislature and courts of CA will take notice. If as many people claiming to be SCN due to money spent & courses taken assemble as the 20,000 who are currently active members and demand a voice in selection of the leadership it will make a powerful statement concerning the “religion” and it’s tax exempt status. I don’t think any court will declare DM a “saint” or “pope” who can hold leadership because he says so.

    AFTERMATH is inspiring and has made this 70-year-old brain and mind blaze with contempt for David Miscavige.

    I am not now and have never been a Scientologist – I came close once to giving it a try.
    I read DIANETICS and I have a good friend who did quite a bit and his son became an OT and Auditor prior to opting out.
    But I was in the past an avid Anti-War, Civil and Women’s rights, and OCCUPY protester – campus radical – and organizer of protests.

    I wonder if former Scientologists – those who were “declared” or who simply drifted away and stopped paying – people who have frequented this forum or EX SCN forum and who follow Rinder or Rathbun or Tony Ortega’s weblogs have considered using the effective techniques championed by the Anti-War, Civil Rights, Women’s and OCCUPY movements.

    I see the call for Pickets but I have not been around enough to get a feel for how many people might be available in LA or Clearwater to become part of this picket process.

    The A&E series seems to have attracted over 2 million viewers and GOING CLEAR had over 5 million viewers as of April 2015 as the second most-viewed HBO Doc ever.

    What would happen if Rinder, Rimini, Rathbun, and Ortega along with CLAMBAKE and all the other non-approved SCN web presence organized a series of protests based on the OCCUPY MOVEMENT?
    Picketing is a weaker concept but how many people inspired by AFTERMATH and GOING CLEAR could be inspired to surround and enter the CELEBRITY CENTER or BIG BLUE or any of the walk-in and training locations of SCIENTOLOGY in LA. What if a few hundred simply sat down inside the buildings and stayed – supported by others who bring food and water.
    How many could be inspired to OCCUPY the FLAG and other Clearwater locations?
    What would it look like if a couple of thousand people drove out to San Jacinto to GOLD BASE and surrounded the 500 acre facility?

    It now appears that the total active membership of SCN is less than 30,000 people.
    How many are in the SEA ORG? How many of those are at GOLD BASE?
    And more importantly how many would choose to continue to support the monster Miscavige if they had the choice?

    [b] How many GOLD BASE SEA ORG people might come to their senses if they were surrounded by a couple of thousand people chanting COME OUT COME OUT – you are free?
    David Miscavige is the COB of the RTC right?
    A COB must have a “B” (board) to be chairman of right?
    That board must have by-laws.
    How is the COB elected? How is he/she replaced if there is a death?
    What if he is declared? or what if he is certified “incompetent” or “insane”?

    Everyone who ever spent a dime on SCIENTOLOGY can claim standing as a SCIENTOLOGIST. If you bought DIANETICS and had contact online with the “church” for instance. Make the claim – they have to figure out how to deny it.
    What would happen if 30,000 signatures on a petition demanding a vote on the leadership were gathered?
    I notice that CHANGE.ORG has a couple of petitions in process but I have not seen them advertised on this blog or Rinder’s or Clambake or The Underground Bunker or on AFTERMATH or the A&E site.
    What if they demanded that DM be replaced? How many votes could Miscavage depend on?
    How many of the current SEA ORG members have been abused by DM?
    How many remain silent due to fear?
    How many would gladly vote him out if they had the opportunity?

    I am not suggesting that former SCIENTOLOGIST embrace a religion – CULT – they have escaped. But for the purposes of removing Miscavige and gaining control of the assets in order to refund the theft and end the disconnections, Anyone who ever had any contact or paid a dime to Scientology should claim it until DM is gone and the assets are in the hands of the victims.

    Everyone who once tried SCIENTOLOGY can claim it to be “your church”. It took your time and your money.
    You lent it your power and DM abused that power.
    Any group claiming to be a tax-exempt church has to have a method to choose and remove leaders.
    An occupy movement could be used to force that result.
    The legislatures of CA and Florida along with the courts would respond to a massive group of Scientologists who want DM out.
    He was not elected. He simply declared himself POPE.
    A claim that he illegitimately holds power is powerful.

    I may be very late to this party and I don’t have time to review the history of Clambake or these other sites.
    But NOW is NOW – and it’s AFTERMATH and GOING CLEAR and the millions exposed to SCN through those popular shows that is the GAME CHANGER.

    I believe RINDER, RATHBUN, RIMINI, Hawkins, Headley, Smith-Levine, Scobee, Ron Miscavige, and Tom DeVocht owe it to themselves and those they encouraged or failed to protect to lead this movement to seize control of the 3 BILLION IN ASSETS in order to end the DISCONNECTION and refund the $$$ stolen from so many like the Kahn’s. Take that 3 billion in assets and give it back or use it to save the planet.
    Billion for God’s sake don’t leave it in DM’s hands. You owe it to yourselves and everyone who has been ripped off.


  • Michelle Brannon

    Mr. Smith-Levin, thank you for sharing your story. I can’t imagine the pain of going through the loss of your brother and the loss that you continue to feel. It is my hope that your story may help others leave such a horrible “organization” so that this kind of loss isn’t felt by others. God Bless you and your family.

  • BuberZionist

    Thank you Aaron. Glad life is good for you outside the Scio bubble. Thanks Leah and Mike and Tony.

    When Aaron’s former boss’s boss Lundeen accuses Aaron of having been a poor worker for Scientology, why even respond? Scientology is a criminal organization. If Aaron had in fact been lax in performing his Scientology duties that would have been to his further credit.

    I don’t blame Aaron if he worked hard while he was in CoS, but if he’d been a slacker that would’ve been great. It would’ve been OK if Aaron could have truthfully said “Yes, I was a horrible Scio worker. Looking back on it, I wish I’d been a worse one”

    As a French army officer once remarked, “that which is not worth doing at all is not worth doing well.”

  • Jennifer Lynn Litke

    Aaron’s story was especially poignant due mostly because of his raw honestly about his brother’s death. For all accounts that is by far the most heartbreaking tales I have heard to date coming out of scientology and it is despicable to think that an organization can behave in such a manor.
    Tony I haven’t been reading your site for very long, but I have been watching scientology videos for well over a year now and I appreciate the effort you have undertaken in reporting in this organization in the way that you do.