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Tonight on ‘Leah Remini’: The business of Scientology, and the pitfalls of suing it

 
Tonight, at 10 pm A&E airs the second “special” episode in the second season of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, an episode which tries to come to grips with Scientology’s rapacious business model and how people get caught up in it.

To help explain how Scientology operates as a business (which calls itself a church) Mike and Leah bring out Mat Pesch, who was also featured in the first episode of the first season. In that episode, Mat helped his wife Amy Scobee tell her story of disconnection from her mother, Bonny Elliott.

But Mat appears this time because he himself was an executive in the finances division at the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida, the revenue engine that drives the entire worldwide enterprise. Mat says that Flag was bringing in $2 million a week, and had $450 million just sitting on account from church members toward future courses that they might never take.

 

 
Mat explains that it’s all fueled by “registrars” who customize their hard-sell techniques for each church member.

“It’s so cutthroat you would not believe it,” he says. “It’s a machine. And it’s designed to get as much money out of you as possible.”

Leah admits that she tried to convince people to pay for expensive courses in Scientology, but she had a softer approach, and she couldn’t bring herself to be ruthless about it — she worried that some people really couldn’t afford Scientology’s high prices. (Counseling at the upper end of the “Bridge” can run $1,000 an hour.)

Mat responds that when Leah was compassionate like that, she was committing an actual Scientology offense known as “suppressive reasonableness.” We have to admit, that was a new one on us. It’s a high crime in Scientology to be reasonable!

Once again, the use of Scientology documents to back up everything being said in this episode was absolutely top notch. This series proves that it cares about the details and respects its audience.

For more on Scientology’s draconian contracts, Leah and Mike bring out Underground Bunker contributor Jeffrey Augustine, who goes through the sneaky documents that church members are asked to sign.

What Jeffrey and Leah together demonstrate is that while the church is making grandiose claims from the works of L. Ron Hubbard about what Scientology can do, members are signing contracts which say the opposite — that Scientology promises nothing, and that members who don’t like it give up the right to sue.

 

 
Jeffrey describes perhaps the most dramatic Catch-22 for Scientologists who eventually come to their senses and want out — and who want a refund. He cites a “famous letter” which first showed up right here at the Underground Bunker back in 2012. It was a letter from Scientology’s “International Justice Chief,” a man named Mike Ellis, to a South African man, Robert Berrington, who had left the church and wanted the money he still had on account.

Ellis explained to Berrington that because he’d asked for a refund, he had been declared a suppressive person. And because he was a suppressive person, he couldn’t come into the building where he could get the form to fill out for a refund.

Think about that for a moment. Is that clever or what? Here’s the relevant part of the letter…

Any return of donations or refund is entirely a creation of Scientology policy, and determination of any request for a return of donations or refund is strictly a matter of the application of Scientology religious policy and procedure. The procedure itself requires that you personally do and fully complete a CVB Routing Form in the Church of Scientology in JBG.

Due to the fact that you decided to leave the Church and your subsequent excommunication as a result of violation of Church policies, you are not eligible to go into the org to do the Routing Form.

The final portion of the show is what actually resulted in a recent court filing and complaints by the Church of Scientology that Leah Remini was trying to influence a federal judge.

Leah brings on California resident Luis Garcia and his Florida attorney, Ted Babbitt, to talk about Luis’s four-year lawsuit alleging that he’d been defrauded by the church. Underground Bunker readers know that no one has covered the Garcia lawsuit like we have, updating you on every twist and turn in the case.

Luis and Ted explain that they want their day in court on their fraud allegations, but because Luis and his wife Rocio signed those sneaky contracts that Jeffrey was talking about, the church successfully convinced Tampa Federal Judge James Whittemore to stay the lawsuit and force the Garcias into Scientology’s internal arbitration.

 

 
After a couple of years of squabbling, Judge Whittemore chose arbitrators himself, a panel of three Scientologists in good standing, and yesterday the arbitration actually began in Los Angeles. It’s not a public proceeding — the Garcias complained to the judge that they wouldn’t be allowed to have an attorney or even a court reporter to create a transcript — and so we’re waiting to get some word on how it’s going.

Will tonight’s episode somehow influence those arbitrators, as the church complained? We highly doubt it. It’s going to be tough enough for three Scientologists in good standing even to be in the same room with famous SPs like the Garcias.

Luis and Ted told Leah that they’re hoping to prove, eventually, that the arbitration is a sham, and then prevail in court and open the way for others to sue the church.

“There’s a long list of people waiting for us to win this stumbling block,” Luis says.

 
UPDATE: Luis Garcia posted this update on the arbitration tonight on Facebook.

For the last 5 years I have been very quiet on social media, the ex-Scientology community and with the press at large, at the behest of my attorneys, as they did not think it wise for me to give any ammunition to the enemy or anything they could twist and get out of context (as they often do so skillfully), while involved in a major federal lawsuit.

So save for the occasional “happy birthday,” I have been tamed and silent. But not deaf, and not blind. And definitely not asleep.

This all ends today. The gag comes off today, and from today forward I will be as outspoken a critic and whistleblower as I used to be.

I will tell, and expose, and pound, and tell again, and shine the light on the lies, the deceit and the abuses of the so-called “Church of Scientology.” I will, as much as I can, try to end the reign of this criminal, mafia-like organization, operating as a business, masquerading itself as a “religion,” using and abusing all the first amendment protections and rights afforded to bonafide religions.

No sir, I will not be silent any longer.

Today you could say I’ve had my fill. My wife Rocio and I attended arbitration yesterday, October 23rd, 2017. After we got there and cleared the “cone barricade” by showing our driver’s licenses to one of the three security guards, we were allowed to drive into their driveway and park in their parking lot.

But my dear friend, Pauline Lombard, who had driven for an hour to meet us there, who had met with us before to train and work on our presentation strategy, who was to assist me with reading documents, was turned away. She was not allowed in the building, not even allowed to park in their lot. Even when I showed a letter from my doctor to Mr. Ellis, which states that I have an eye condition which diminishes my ability to read or write, even when I pleaded with him to allow her to literally be my eyes, she was turned away. Two SPs in this Scientology building were probably plenty already. In all fairness, Mr. Ellis offered to provide a person to read for me.

As it turns out, it really didn’t matter because… about 95 percent of the evidence I brought was rejected by Mr. Ellis as “irrelevant, from the internet or the press,” or get this… “entheta.”
“Entheta” is defined as “En=enturbulated; theta=thought or life.” It is further defined as “irrational or confusing or destructive thought, enturbulated thought.”

Scientology has done a great job over the years in indoctrinating its members into believing that anything and I mean anything even slightly critical or negative about Scientology is “Entheta.” And the rule is you never listen to entheta, you cut it off, you squelch it, you stop it.

So for example, when I tried to introduce as evidence a screenshot taken from their own website (Scientology.org) which states:

“To meet increasing worldwide demand for Scientology services and community initiatives, the Church of Scientology launched a program to transform all Scientology Churches into what Founder L. Ron Hubbard termed ‘Ideal Organizations.’ And Ideal Org is configured to provide the full services of the Scientology religion to its parishioners, while also serving the community with social betterment and outreach programs,”

This page, again, taken from their own website, GETS REJECTED by the International Justice Chief, Mr. Mike Ellis as ENTHETA. A list of all the Missions that have ever existed in the US was also rejected. It showed that out of 243 Missions, there are just 60 open today.

They are afraid of the Truth.

Not only most of my evidence was rejected, and I had stacks and stacks of documents and policies, but the arbitrators were briefed and were told who-knows-what for hours and hours while my wife and waited patiently in a conference room and before I could address any of them. They were also given a 10-page damning indictment or “professional opinion” or whatever you may want to call it, written and signed by the “Claims Verification Board.” Mr. Ellis was kind enough to give us a copy at 4:20 pm.

This expert report contains such pearls of wisdom as:

• “On November 11, 2010m Luis Garcia posted a blog with Marty Rathbun, attacking the Church and its officials.”
And
• “Building donations and membership donations are nonrefundable pursuant to Church policy.”
• “Garcia claims he was promised the Scientology Cross above the Flag Building would be erected within a short time frame and that the building would be completed more quickly than it was (the cross was erected 6 years after we gave them the money to buy it, which had to be done that very night. The building took 15 years). Thousands of Scientologists contributed to the Flag Building and we have found no evidence to support these claims.”
• “There is no written evidence supporting the Garcia’s claims that false promises were made to solicit membership donations…”
but remember, the evidence I did have was rejected because it was “entheta” or some other reason.

And probably the best nugget of wisdom, oh! Lucidity and mental clarity indeed are:

“The Garcias are spreading black PR, caused by their failure to come clean; they need extensive sec checking. They have missed withholds and unhandled false and evil purposes.”
I just don’t agree with this one though. I have not been spreading black PR, but I certainly will from now on, if exposing the truth is what the Claims Verification Board calls black PR. By the way, who exactly is the Claims Verification Board? Oh well, a question for another day.

This document, this bastion of light and fairness, this false and exaggerated and highly prejudicial manifesto concludes by stating “Church policy makes clear that the Garcias do not qualify for any refund or repayment of donations.” This was given to the arbitrators, hours before they even met us. If this does not predispose them in some way against us I don’t know what would.
When I asked Mr. Ellis if he thought this was fair and or ethical, he responded “I am not here to answer your questions,” which he said many times when we had a question about something.
After spending most of the day waiting in a conference room, while the arbitrators were getting briefed and trained on how to be fair, neutral and most of all, unbiased, Mr. Ellis told us at 5:00 pm yesterday that they were ready to “interview us.”

We pointed out that it was 5:00 pm, which in the Scientology arbitration world means “quitting time.” For us that’s what it means anyway. And we left, promising we would return today at 9:00 am.

After another successful crossing of the cone barricade, we were placed in the same conference room. We could hear the laughter coming from another room nearby. The arbitrators were indeed having a great time.

We waited for about 25 minutes and Mr. Ellis finally took us across the hall to a large conference room where the arbitrators introduced themselves.

To make a short story even shorter:

– The arbitrators asked very specific questions and they wanted very specific answers. For example:
Q: “Did you ask for your money back before you were declared SP?”
A: “No.”
– No documents were reviewed at all.
– Mr. Ellis cut me off repeatedly as soon as I would start answering a question when he considered what I was saying or about to say was “entheta.”
– Mr. Ellis complained that I was “nattering” about him.
– Most of my evidence was never even seen by the arbitrators. This included numerous policies written by L. Ron Hubbard. That is correct. The founder’s policies were rejected as not relevant.
– Nothing to do with fraud, lies, malfeasance, deception, cheating, misrepresentation, etc., was discussed at all. Mr. Ellis made sure of that.

Their only concern was with whether or not we had followed proper church procedure in requesting a refund of our money.
– I asked a question to one of the arbitrators and Mr. Ellis immediately cut me off and said: “they are not here to answer your questions; if you have a question, ask me.” I reminded Mr. Ellis that he had already told me several times that “he was not here to answer my questions.” His face… oh, his face!
– The arbitrators were also given two documents which, while not discreditable, were taken from my confidential penitent/priest Ethics file. I am sure of this. The fact that they are not discreditable makes no difference to me. The line has been crossed.
– Towards the end, the arbitrator who was the chairman, proceeded to give us a speech, stating he knew the truth, extolling the virtues of the Scientology movement and how it is making the world a better place, and then lectured us about the fact the we had been “sold a bill of goods,” by some mean SP and he hoped that someday we would recant, atone (A-E steps) and come back into the fold. The kool-aid was strong with this one. I wondered how impartial he would really be.

There were no more questions by the arbitrators. The first arbitration ever conducted by the Church of Scientology in its entire history had concluded.
It had taken a total of fifty minutes. And 1 day of arbitrator training. History has been made.

To say this was a kangaroo court would be an understatement. At no time whatsoever were the fragile and pure minds of these arbitrators allowed to be contaminated by even the slightest amount of truth I could throw at them. We tried, we really tried. But as my father used to say, you can’t ask a donkey to use a toilet.

We were then asked if we wanted to wait a little bit, you know, like a couple of hours for a decision, while they deliberated. We said no. We had waited long enough.

We left, because… Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Besides, we kind of know already what they are going to decide, you know, with their impartiality and fairness and all.

They made a couple of blunders and there are a few more details to be disclosed at the appropriate time and forum. Let’s just say that a head or two may roll.

Thanks to everyone who helped me in some way to prepare for this mock court. You know who you are. Thank you. I will not forget it.

Best,
Luis

 
——————–

Miscavige going for three Ideal openings in a row

After opening the new Ideal Orgs in Dublin and Birmingham, England the last two Saturdays, Scientology leader David Miscavige will open yet another new church this weekend in Amsterdam. Three weekends in a row is a new record. Surely the whales will be pleased.

 

 
——————–

Squeeze Cathy’s cans in LA before it’s too late!

Cathy Schenkelberg asked us to let readers know that she has two final shows in Los Angeles before she takes her one-woman show, “Squeeze My Cans,” on the road again. Catch her frenetic take-down of the Scientology experience!

 

 
Fanatic Salon
3815 Sawtelle Blvd
Reservations: 310-622-2046
$20 at the door
Wednesday Oct 25 at 7:30 pm and
Friday Oct 27 at 8 pm
www.squeezemycans.com

 
——————–

Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,912 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 58 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,121 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,895 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,669 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,015 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,509 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,549 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,261 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 787 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,876 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,016 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,336 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,311 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 667 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 4,969 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,075 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,478 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,351 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 932 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,437 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,681 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,790 days.

——————–

3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on October 24, 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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