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Garry Scarff, 1956-2017: A complex figure and dogged researcher

Thanks to Jeffrey Augustine, we received confirmation Monday night that Garry Scarff died on April 12 at the age of 60, apparently without notice in the Scientology critic community.

That’s a shame, because for all of the bizarre — and questionable — chapters of his life, Scarff was, at least to us, one of the most dedicated researchers into Scientology that we ever met, and someone we always enjoyed talking with.

Garry Lynn Scarff was born on August 17, 1956. Known by his nom de guerre, “Happy Smurf,” Scarff at one time was a constant presence on the Scientology online forums, and had a seemingly encyclopedic data collection about just about anyone who ever was anyone in Scientology or Scientology watching.

On the other hand, he was known for having helped Scientology’s spy wing, the Office of Special Affairs, and had owned up to it. At one point, Scarff, who said in a sworn statement that he had been a Scientologist from 1982 to 1992, admitted to helping Scientology run a “Fair Game” retaliation operation against California attorney Ford Greene — but Scientology to this day denies that Scarff was ever a Scientologist at all. The church also denies that he was working for the church to infiltrate Greene’s office. “There’s not a scrap of evidence to support anything he says,” a church official told California Lawyer magazine in 1994.


In 2012, Scarff wrote, “It is a fact I was a long-time OSA operative that did some bad shit and hurt some people. I have spent years making amends to people. Many have been gracious with their forgiveness; several choose to hold a grudge and live with the belief ‘once OSA, always OSA.’ I can live with that.”

Scarff was also known for lying about having a connection to the 1978 Jonestown massacre. In the late 1980s, he claimed to have been a member of the Peoples Temple and had lost a father and son in the carnage at the compound in Guyana. None of it was true, and he later said in a sworn statement that he had invented the story on orders from Scientology to create chaos for the Cult Awareness Network — but it’s almost impossible to know if any of that explanation has any truth to it either.

When we got to know Scarff in the 1990s, we knew about his flip-flopping past and let him know that we would be unable to use him as a quoted source in stories. But on the other hand, we didn’t hesitate to credit him last year when he tracked down new photos of Tommy Davis hobnobbing in his new Hollywood job on behalf of Australian billionaire James Packer. (Tommy has now left that job, and is back to working in the world of real estate investment.) Over the years, Garry was always very helpful to us, and he understood that we were careful only to use information from him that could be independently verified.

Last year, just a few days after Garry had found those new Tommy Davis photos, he put up a notice on his Facebook page indicating that he and his doctors had decided that his worsening health problems were going to force him to accept living at a care facility where he would have infrequent access to the Internet. After that, he posted just a few things through October.

Whatever one thinks of Garry Scarff and his claims, we think it’s a shame that he passed away without notice. The last time we saw him, he came out for our Los Angeles stop on our 2015 book tour. We’re glad he did.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,919 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 65 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,128 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,902 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,676 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,022 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,516 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,556 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,268 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 794 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,883 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,023 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,343 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,318 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 674 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 4,976 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,082 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,485 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,358 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 939 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,444 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,688 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,797 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on October 31, 2017 at 00:00

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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