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‘Leah Remini’ show prompting more ‘ranch kids’ to come forward with agonizing family drama

[Clarissa and Ethan Adams]

We continue to be amazed at the effect Leah Remini is producing with her A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath. As her second season progresses, we’re seeing more and more people speak up about their experiences in Scientology.

One declaration we noticed on Facebook really caught our eye, and we want to thank Aaron Smith-Levin for helping put us in touch with the person who made it.

Her name is Clarissa Adams. She and her husband Ethan both spoke up at Facebook about how they could corroborate what Mirriam Francis and Saina Kamula were saying about the primitive conditions at Canyon Oaks Ranch, a school for Scientology children in the 1980s and early 1990s.

We talked to Clarissa about that, but then learned that her story was about so much more.

In 1986, L. Ron Hubbard had recently died, but the Huber family was only increasing its involvement in Scientology by moving to Los Angeles.


Walter and Irmin Huber were from Austria, and had met at Scientology’s Vienna “org.”

“My mother was drawn to the idea that thetans were not gendered. Her father was strict about her doing only feminine things, so she rebelled by chopping her hair off when she was old enough and then she joined a group of men who rode motorcycles. I’m not sure exactly what got her into Scientology, possibly an old boyfriend at the time, but thetans being neither male or female was the clincher for her,” Clarissa says. “She was a ball of energy, smiled all the time and she met my father, Walter Huber, at the Vienna Org. I don’t actually know what compelled my father into Scientology. We never had that discussion.”

Clarissa was only 4 years old when the Hubers made their way to Los Angeles to increase their involvement in the church at one of the places where it is headquartered.

She remembers being dropped off by her father at the “Cadet Estates Org” or CEO, a flimsy facility behind the Hollywood Celebrity Centre that would be abandoned a few years later when its roof caved in during a heavy rain.

“One of my first memories there was was when my dad took my brother Odo and me to see the CEO and we went into the backyard. There were kids running around and one kid was racing by us on his bicycle yelling, ‘Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!’ at a kid behind him that was racing after him. My brother looked up at my dad and asked, ‘Was ist Fuck you?'”

Clarissa has some fond memories of playing at the CEO facility, but she says that overall, “it was more like every kid for himself.” With parents in the Sea Org working 16-hour days, the children were mostly on their own.

“We hoped our parents wouldn’t forget us in our cots overnight. My parents were pretty good about getting us every night, but I do remember waking up once to a pretty empty room. I found my way to the kitchen and hung out with a nanny and a cook in there, and one other kid that had also woken up,” she says.

Some children could walk home with their parents. Others had to catch a bus because their “berthing” was a few miles away.

After the roof began to cave in from rain, Clarissa and her brother were moved to the Anthony Building on Fountain Avenue, and they attended school at the Apollo Training Academy — the ATA was mentioned on the ‘Scientology and the Aftermath’ episode that featured Mirriam and Saina.

At their new berthing place, Clarissa and her brother were given a room in one part of the Anthony Building, while their parents had a room in another part. She remembers mustering in the lobby, where she and the other children would recite L. Ron Hubbard policies.

Then, everything changed in 1992 after the Los Angeles riots. “We were sort of whisked away then and we ended up at the ranch,” she says, referring to Canyon Oaks Ranch in extreme northeast Los Angeles County, where Mirriam and Saina would be sent as well.

“The property was pretty run down. So we fixed it up. All of us kids. Even the young, 5- to 7-year-olds,” Clarissa says. “We all did our part. I specifically remember staring at a huge field of mustard flower plants after they told us to pull them all out. It was overwhelming, and we didn’t always have gloves to do it with. We renovated buildings and everything else.”

They would get bussed to Los Angeles to spend weekends with their parents, and to do work at the LA headquarters. Before they could go, however, their dorms at the ranch had to pass white-glove inspections. One time, their dorm didn’t pass the inspection and Clarissa couldn’t get on the bus. She and some of her dorm mates reacted by going on a long hike and avoiding their chores.

Her mother ended up hearing about her small act of disobedience.


“We had a deeper conversation than normal and she asked me if I wanted to be an auditor when I grew up,” Clarissa says. “I had only a small understanding of what an auditor did, but I was very adamant in rejecting that idea. And it never went away, I never wanted to be an auditor. My mom was a bit surprised. I told her I wanted to be an artist.”

There wasn’t much time for art at the ranch, however. “We studied Scientology and we studied basic school at the ranch. We learned to read, write, and do math. And we had to get a certificate in each,” she says. “Some kids got lucky and were able to study other things such as geography. Not me. As soon as I got that third cert, on a Thursday morning, my friend and I were told that it was time for us to join the Sea Org and that we were leaving right then.”

There was apparently no time to lose in order to get these schoolchildren to the base so they could sign billion-year Sea Org contracts.

“We had to pack some stuff quickly and get in the car. Doug Fiandaca took us. He was driving so fast down the winding roads, we had to stop so I could vomit on the side of the road.”

Clarissa was 13.

“Although we were groomed to be Sea Org members, I never wanted to join. I wanted kids. I wanted to learn to draw and be an artist. This was not what I wanted. But we were sort of always told that if we decided to leave, we would be pulling our parents out of the Sea Org, and did we really want to make them do that?”

After three months at the Sea Org’s boot camp (the Estates Project Force), Clarissa was assigned to the prestigious Commodore’s Messengers Organization in Los Angeles, working directly for the group’s commanding officer. But she realized right away that she wasn’t up for the late nights and “intense control,” she says.

“I told my seniors that I was done. That I didn’t want to be in the Sea Org and that I needed to get more of an education because I felt so stupid and clueless all the time.”

After getting yelled at and assigned to write up her transgressions (“overts and withholds”), she was allowed to go back to the ranch where she was reunited with her brother and younger sister.

“One thing that was becoming clear to me at that point was that my brother had received even less of an education than I had. My mom was aware of this and asked me to help him because she couldn’t get any adults to help him. I’ll never understand why either of my parents didn’t come up and make sure he was properly educated at that point. He was illiterate at 16. That was hard for him. But he’s also very smart so he figured out ways to get around it and not make it an obvious problem. He finally caught up but it was a long time coming,” she says.

We asked Clarissa what she thought was going through her parents’ minds when they gave up their kids to substandard schooling that was so bad their 16-year-old son was illiterate, and their 13-year-old daughter had been pulled out of school for Sea Org boot camp.

“I really believe that the idea that us kids were just ‘thetans in little bodies’ is the factor here,” Clarissa answered, referring to L. Ron Hubbard’s policies that children be treated as small adults. “Like, why would they keep a closer eye on us when we were taken care of by other Sea Org members — the most ethical beings on the planet — and we had already lived previously in other bodies. We were being schooled in Scientology, and that was the most important thing because then we can step alongside our parents and help them clear this planet. They fully believe, even today, that it’s an urgent mission that they’re part of.”

After her initial negative experience in the Sea Org, Clarissa was convinced to join it again, with the understanding that she could work at the ranch. After a grueling set of courses, she became a Course Supervisor at the rural school. Her brother and her sister also ended up joining the Sea Org as well.

Later, she had an opportunity for a prestigious move up to a position at secretive Int Base near Hemet, California, where the church’s top international management worked. But that involved security checking (a form of interrogation using auditing techniques), and she told her superiors that she wasn’t dedicated enough for it.


“One of the CMO IXU girls said, ‘So to be clear, we’re offering you a platter of gold and you’re refusing it?’ I said yes and ended up working at the ASHO Foundation in Los Angeles,” she says. “I hated it. I was constantly yelled at and I hated the schedule, so I decided I was done.”

Once again, Clarissa quit the Sea Org. She was 20.

“I told my mom. Her response was, ‘Then why did you pick this body? Why did you pick this family?’ She never asked what I was going to do or where I would go. In fact, she didn’t bring it up again at all. I was 20. I had no family to go to. No credit. No driver’s license.” Her father was at the Flag Land Base, in Clearwater, Florida, and Clarissa says he was also shocked to hear the news. “It hit him hard.”

But she still remembers it as the best day of her life.

“I have never felt the same sense of freedom as I did that day. I had no idea what my future held, but I had a couple of hundred bucks to my name and I was no longer a part of the Sea Org. It was a beautiful moment.”

Five years later, she married Ethan Adams, and they had a daughter. Ethan had also been a student at Canyon Oaks Ranch, but a couple of grades ahead. He was an electrician and Army reservist who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009.

“That was a rough year, but we had some friends who lived here in Big Bear and who helped me through tough times,” Clarissa says.

And at that point, she and her daughter could still visit her parents and brother in Los Angeles. Ethan and Clarissa then had a son, and Ethan deployed to Afghanistan for a second time, in 2013.

“That year was rough because I had two kids now, was far from family and friends, and it stopped being convenient for me to go to LA all the time for visits. And my family didn’t come up at all that year. They didn’t ask how I was coping. They were too busy with their Sea Org jobs.”

And then, Clarissa’s doubts about Scientology motivated her to begin looking at articles about it online.

“That was tough. I had to stop reading some of the stuff and come back to it because the fear that had been instilled in me about catching pneumonia was strong, even though I knew it was illogical at this point.”

When Ethan returned home in early 2014, she learned that he had been having his own doubts.

And then, in June, came a fateful trip to Austria.


[Clarissa, left, in 2013 with her family while Ethan was deployed in Afghanistan: her brother Odo, mother Irmin, Odo’s wife Tera, and father Walter]

“My grandmother was going to turn 90, so I booked a trip to be there for her birthday. She passed away before I made it out, but I still made the trip to see everyone and to pay my respects,” Clarissa says.

Her mother had also made the trip.

“I made the poor choice of telling her that I had looked at stuff about Scientology online,” she says. “I had actually just arrived and I was really jet-lagged. She kept mentioning something about the church. I decided I was just going to rip the band-aid off and tell her that I wasn’t a Scientologist anymore, and that I’d begun to look at things on the Internet.

Clarissa says her mother’s response surprised her: “Well, we’re a new religion, we make mistakes. It’s to be expected.”

The next night, however, the phone rang where they were staying and her mother answered it. “Oh my gosh, what perfect timing. Do you want to talk to Clarissa?”

It was her brother, who had called at the perfect time to catch them both after a day exploring the countryside.

“I told him how great our first day in the Alps had been, and then he started into me. He said, ‘Now my sister is being a bitch and is trying to destroy the family.’ What are you talking about, I said. Where is this coming from?”

She dropped the phone and walked away, and says she realized that her mother had set up the phone call to occur when it did. She went to another room, but when she tried to close the door, her mother put her foot in the way and stopped it.

“You need to finish your comm cycle,” she said, which was Scientologese for, go finish your conversation with your brother.

“She was trying to be Tone 40 on me,” Clarissa says, referring to a Scientology method of speaking forcefully to get your intention across. “I pushed her back, which I’d never done before, and slammed the door shut. I was standing there shaking.”

After she calmed down, Clarissa let her mother in and they talked. But soon, there was more yelling back and forth. “I don’t understand why you didn’t tell me you were in doubt!” her mother said.

“At this point I was crying and she was really cold — like she was really good with her TRs,” Clarissa says, referring to a Scientologist method of using the experience of “Training Routines” to remain intense and focused.

When Clarissa said she hadn’t said anything sooner because she was worried that her parents might disconnect from her for admitting to looking at negative material about the church, her mother answered, “I would disconnect from you.”

“It was like this moment of clarity,” she tells us. “I would do anything for my kids. I want to believe I would never say anything like that to them. But my mom, I realized, only thought of us as Scientology team members. I felt my tears drying up. And I was done. Mom eventually broke down, but she cried when she was talking about unborn babies being drugged that Scientology hadn’t been able to help. That’s when she got emotional. Not when she was thinking of me or my kids. That was bizarre for me.”

For another week, they visited with family in Austria, and Clarissa says they both did their best not to let on that they had been arguing. But then, Clarissa says her mother accused her of trying to poison the family in Austria against Scientology.

“The next day, she stopped me and said, ‘You’ve read the Suppressive Acts policy, right?’ I said yes, mom, I have. And then I walked away.”

Clarissa hasn’t seen her mother since.

Back at home, Clarissa heard from the church that a report had been filed on her. Eventually, she was called down for what Scientology calls a “committee of evidence,” which is sort of like a court martial.

“The comm ev was a joke. It said I was connected to an SP, that I had publicly disavowed Scientology — because I told my Austrian family and mother I was no longer a Scientologist. There were a few other points. And then they showed me the reports. There was one from a friend we had invited into our home saying she had seen a copy of Going Clear on our shelf. There was one from my dad saying that when I told him I wanted to see my mom demonstrate that family is still important to her, it was my way of saying that she had to leave the Sea Org. There was a long report from my brother that covered the entire phone conversation we had last. And there was a report from my friend’s mom saying everything I had told her,” she says.

“The only one that affected me was the one from my dad. That had been a private phone conversation between him and me. And not only that, he had put words in my mouth to make me sound worse. It killed me.”

Clarissa says she avoided speaking about it with her dad, but then he emailed her asking why she wasn’t going to the church to get its “findings and recommendations” after the comm ev.

“I let him have it and told him I was so disappointed in him. I said a religion that can do that to someone is no religion at all,” she says.

She never heard from him again.

“It’s been over a year now since I last spoke to my dad,” Clarissa says. “It’s been about three years since I’ve actually seen them. It killed me. It hurts so bad that they chose the church over us. They were amazing with the kids. They loved them. They never tried to see them one last time or try to talk things out face to face. I’ve been in some dark places after that. I know they miss us. I’ve heard things, but they refuse to acknowledge us. They all stayed in touch with my sister, and I asked her once if they ever asked about my kids. They didn’t. They never talked about any of us. My heart hurt so bad after she told me that.”

Meanwhile, they went through the familiar story of their Scientology friends and business partners rejecting them.

“We lost five more close friends recently, and only one had the balls to come up to visit us from LA and ask for our side of the story. He is forever endeared to me for that. He explained his situation, and even though we all agreed it was ridiculous, he had to disconnect or lose his entire family. We do have some pretty great people that have surprised us with support and some even greater ones that we know will never silently slink off. We have all of Ethan’s sisters in our lives — their mother also disconnected from all four of them and us!”

Clarissa’s parents today are still in the Sea Org and both of them work at the “Ideal Org” in Los Angeles, as far as Clarissa knows. Her brother Odo Huber is a familiar figure for those curiosity seekers who visit Scientology’s Los Angeles headquarters complex (which includes the Ideal Org) — Odo Huber is one of the guys cruising around on bicycles providing security. (Clarissa wanted us to add that while she is cut off from her parents and brother, she is still connected with her younger sister.)

“The hardest part of disconnection is that my kids no longer have a wonderful attentive uncle, and they don’t have grandparents who were willing to play with them whenever they visited,” she says. “My mom is an extreme case, but it’s the mindset that Scientology creates about how children are ‘able beings that just need to get bigger’ that messes up that bond between parents and kids. Why nurture a child with love and affection when they’re just as capable as you are of controlling their emotions and actions?

“We were raised by the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. And to my parents, Hubbard had already somehow proved that he held all the answers.”



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,867 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,850 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,624 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,970 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,464 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,504 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,216 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 742 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,831 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,971 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,291 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,266 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 622 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 4,924 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,031 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,433 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,306 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 887 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,392 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,636 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,745 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on September 8, 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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