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Celebrity battle lines: Michael Peña’s wife asks Scientologists to ‘Stand with Daniel Masterson’

[Michael Peña and Brie Shaffer]

One sign that Leah Remini is really getting to David Miscavige and the Church of Scientology became very obvious this week. Our commenters have been talking about it for days — a petition started by a 13-year-old Indian boy, Ram Sharma, calling for the cancellation of A&E’s series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.

The petition quickly caught fire and has been signed by many well known and longtime Scientologists, who not only are leaving public statements about Remini but also are listing the cities where they’re from. For Scientologists it’s an unusually public act, and feels like a real departure — finally, Scientologists are standing up to be counted.

And that, of course, is part of their problem. At last count, only 4,882 people had signed the petition, with many of them identifying their locations as either Southern California or Clearwater, Florida.

In other words, exactly what we would expect after telling the public for years that the size of Scientology is much smaller than the church claims. At our last count, we estimated that there were only about 20,000 active Scientologists in the world, with concentrations in places like Los Angeles and Clearwater, and nothing like the millions that the church claims.

Our commenters have been pointing out some of the interesting names that are showing up on the petition, and we’ll run through a few of them, and we’ll also explain why we think this is a coordinated effort inside the church pressuring members to sign. But first, we have to tell you about one bold Scientologist in particular who really caught our eye.


Her name is Brie Shaffer. She’s a screenwriter, and she’s married to actor and Scientologist Michael Peña (The Martian, Fury, End of Watch, and many other films), and at her Facebook page, like other Scientologists she posted her own link to Ram Sharma’s petition. But take a look at it and see if you can spot something unusual about it.


Did you notice the title? Instead of the original title, “Cancel A&E’s ‘Leah Remini Scientology and the Aftermath'” (which you can see here), Shaffer’s link says “Stand with Daniel Masterson” because she shared it from a post Masterson himself made on a private Facebook page.

And if you click on Shaffer’s link and go to the petition, hovering your mouse over it brings up this window…


That’s really interesting for a couple of reasons. First of all, Leah Remini’s show has not mentioned Scientologist and That ’70s Show actor Danny Masterson or his investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department regarding allegations of rape by three different women who were all Scientologists when they claim they were attacked by Masterson between 2001 and 2003, a story we broke in March.

In our story, we did mention that Remini has shown her support for the three women, and even met with the LAPD detective who was handling that investigation. Despite that, however, her show has so far not mentioned the case at all.

But there’s another reason why Brie Shaffer calling for the cancellation of Leah Remini’s show in the name of Danny Masterson is noteworthy.

And that’s because she’s listed in a police report as a witness to one of Masterson’s alleged rapes.

In 2004, the woman we’re calling “Victim B” reported her alleged rape to the Los Angeles Police Department, which had happened the year before. When she was asked to provide the names of corroborating witnesses, the first person she named and the first listed on the report was Brie Shaffer.



If you remember our previous stories about Victim B, we talked to witnesses who said she was a friend of Masterson’s who had gone to his house for a party. After he gave her a drink, she became suspiciously intoxicated, lost consciousness, and then found herself under Masterson.

“SUSP (acquaintance) sexually assaulted the victim while she was passed out. The victim woke up while the suspect was having sex with her and struggled with him. The suspect choked the victim until she passed out,” the police report states.

At the time of the 2003 party, Brie Shaffer was Masterson’s personal assistant. The same witness we talked to for our first story on Masterson says he remembers seeing Shaffer trying to get into the house after the party and after the incident with Victim B.

“I remember her freaking out, trying to get into the house, and Danny yelling from inside, ‘don’t open that fucking door.’ But she eventually got inside,” our witness says.

We asked him why he thought Victim B would have told police that Shaffer, Masterson’s assistant, would be the first witness they should call in their investigation.

“She listed Brie first because Brie knew what really happened that night. She fucking knew.”

We messaged Shaffer through her Facebook page, telling her we wanted to discuss her link to the Leah Remini petition, the first public post she’s made to her page since February 2016. She hasn’t responded.

Meanwhile, we pointed out earlier that her husband, Michael Peña, is planning to host a charity golf tournament with Masterson in Los Angeles on September 30…


So it appears pretty plain where the Peña-Shaffer household stands on the LAPD’s investigation. And Brie, at least, wants to see Leah Remini’s show canceled. Like the many Scientologists signing the Sharma petition, it’s just unusual to see these church members take such a public stand.

It’s actually kind of refreshing, to be honest. And it illustrates, we think, what a big impact Leah Remini is having on the church.

We took a sample of 500 names from the petition and sorted them by location. Of those, 88 (or 18 percent) were from Southern California, and 77 (15 percent) were from Clearwater, the two largest concentrations by far, and just as you would expect.

And as our commenters have been pointing out, many of the names are familiar, and some are surprising. We’ll point out just one in particular, which caught our eye because it’s someone who is mentioned each morning in our “Scientology disconnection, a reminder” list that has become a regular fixture here…


Yes, that’s Jancis, the mother to Ramana Dienes-Browning, the Australian woman who had such a harrowing experience as a young Sea Org officer on Scientology’s private cruise ship, the Freewinds. Last year, Ramana told us about the events that led up to her mother finally cutting her out of her life entirely.

Sunny Pereira said she recognized several of the names on the petition from her time stuck in Scientology’s “Rehabilitation Project Force” with them: Paul Discher, John Suchy, Don Jarvis, Dimitri Vanderbellen, Ed Parkin, Gary Pollack, Griselda Contreras, Howard Becker, Erin Solari, John Prinzing, Leslie Farrow, and Karl Heinz-Lenz.

Let that sink in. These were people who were stuck in the Sea Org’s harsh prison program, probably for years, but are so indoctrinated they sign a petition claiming that Remini’s show exposing things like the RPF is “bigotry.”

Our commenters will probably list other people they recognized or were surprised to see. The petition signers are a real who’s who of Scientology’s remaining hangers-on.

We also turned to our Celebrity Centre source, who was just one of several of our correspondents to confirm for us that Scientologists are getting private emails from other church members encouraging them to sign the petition in what appears to be a coordinated effort.

“I notice a lot of OTs are signing the petition and commenting,” he told us. “They are completely convinced that everything on Leah’s series is a lie. They are so conditioned to disregard the media, that they only listen to news from Scientology, filled only with propaganda.”

Our source says an effort like this clearly is going through Scientology’s intelligence wing, the Office of Special Affairs. “How something like this works is that a dedicated OT suggests the idea and implements it. He or she will let OSA know what they are doing, or OSA brings in one or several of its most trusted public to start the campaign. It then spreads to trusted public who have connections,” he says.

Well, it’s been fascinating to see how much Scientologists who normally stay back in the shadows are coming forward to put their name on this. We respect them for it, even at the same time they are confirming everything we’ve been saying about the precarious current state of Scientology’s size.

Our previous Danny Masterson coverage:

March 3: LAPD probing Scientology and Danny Masterson for multiple rapes, cover up
March 8: Danny Masterson: Victim C gets support from a veteran actress, but will LAPD answer the call?
March 11: Source: Scientology made Danny Masterson’s Victim B search past lives to explain being raped
March 13: Danny Masterson turns 41 today, and we have a gift from his cast and crew at ‘The Ranch’
May 9: Danny Masterson hires Michael Jackson criminal defense attorney Tom Mesereau in rape probe

ADDITIONAL: Eivol Ekdal reminds us that we’ve met Ram Sharma’s family before. If you remember, his father Rohit met with Tom Cruise at Saint Hill Manor when he won a Freedom Medal…


And here’s Ram himself with the family and their pal, the Chairman of the Board…



Chris Shelton: 5 more reasons why ‘Scientology and the Aftermath’ is more important than you think

Says Chris: “With Scientology and the Aftermath‘s season 2 now begun, it’s time to look at another 5 reasons why this show is so very relevant not just for Scientology watchers or those interested in L. Ron Hubbard’s peculiar brand of crazy, but for anyone and everyone out there who should be watching it.”



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,845 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,828 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,602 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,948 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,442 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,482 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,194 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 720 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,809 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,949 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,269 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,244 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 600 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 4,902 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,009 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,411 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,284 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 865 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,370 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,614 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,723 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on August 17, 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 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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