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A look back at the month when all hell broke loose for Scientology and Danny Masterson

We’re looking back at 2017’s most significant stories here at the Underground Bunker and today it’s a flashback to the month of March in our annual Scientology year-in-review.

Without a doubt, March was our biggest month of the year for significant stories, and it started off with the year’s biggest bombshell: We revealed that Scientologist and That ’70s Show actor Danny Masterson was being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department on accusations of rape by three different women, who were each Scientologists at the time of their alleged attacks. We referred to them as Victim A, who had written a scathing letter of complaint to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, Victim B, who was made to do past-life auditing by the church as a bizarre kind of punishment for alleging that Masterson had raped her, and Victim C, who we interviewed, and who told us about the violent attack she went through. Since then, Yashar Ali at the Huffington Post revealed that a fourth victim had also come forward and was part of the investigation. He also reported that the District Attorney’s office had put the case on a “slow roll,” which explains why nine months later, we’re still waiting to see if charges are going to be filed. At this point, both Masterson and his accusers deserve an answer to that question, and we hope the DA’s office can get its act together soon after the holidays.

The next day, we really shifted gears and decided that this whole Joy Villa situation was getting out of control. You have to understand, we’ve been keeping an eye on Joy since 2014, when her desperate antics in an attempt to be considered a Scientology “celebrity” of some sort — of any sort — were getting too obvious to ignore. We watched as she tried scheme after scheme to get noticed. There were a couple of Grammy awards appearances with barely-there dresses dreamed up by her maniac friend, Andre Soriano (like one made out of a snow fence), which just got her ridiculed for trying too hard. For a while, she tried to “train her waist” to be scarily small, and then she won an award at the Celebrity Centre for her vegan bodybuilding. This woman was just determined to be famous for something, even though she didn’t actually seem to exhibit any talent of any note. But then, she wore Soriano’s newest dress for the 2017 Grammy awards, and boy, did it get her attention. The “MAGA” dress was a huge hit among Donald Trump supporters who don’t have a lot of entertainment figures to call their own. It didn’t seem to matter that Joy had a record as a Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders supporter, and that it was pretty obvious that the dress was another cynical ploy for attention. Trump supporters bought up her record in huge numbers, and Joy began milking that attention for everything she could. When she went to a “Gays for Trump” rally in DC on March 4, we pointed out that she’d been listed in a recent Scientology publication as a major donor — a “Patron Meritorious,” someone who has given at least $250,000 to the International Association of Scientologists. But it had little effect. What would it take to convince Trump supporters that they were being played? Oh, if we’d only known in March how far Joy was going to take things. She steadily worked her way into the Trump White House, and then in October received a pretty clear endorsement from the president for the notion of running for Congress…



We broke the news just yesterday that the district Joy is eyeing for her 2018 run is Florida’s 27th, in Miami, where incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has chosen not to run for re-election. But even with her surprising popularity, Joy would have an uphill slog in a district that went for Secretary Clinton by 19 points in the 2016 election.

And then, last night, there was this, at Politico…


And if it comes down to it, will Trump really side with Joy Villa over the guy he’s already brought back into the fold after a previous incident involving manhandling a woman?

What a dilemma for the MAGA crowd.

Getting back to what was happening in March, we first saw Louis Theroux’s very funny My Scientology Movie at its international premiere in 2015, but now it was finally opening in US theaters — and just in time to note something very troubling about Theroux’s co-star, former Scientology executive Mark “Marty” Rathbun. In September 2016, Rathbun had viciously attacked the film at his website, and many wondered if he was back in the good graces of David Miscavige. Well, now we had a bit of a bombshell: We had a court transcript which showed that in Israel, an attorney representing the Church of Scientology said, in open court, that he’d called Rathbun and obtained from him a private and potentially very damaging email written to Rathbun by former church member Dani Lemberger. The church then tried to use that email to undermine Lemberger’s lawsuit against the church. It didn’t work, and Lemberger ultimately settled the case. But it seemed a shocking betrayal of Lemberger’s privacy by Rathbun to turn over the email for the church to use against him in court. Rathbun didn’t deny it, and Lemberger told us how stunned he was.

And then, the next day, another stunner: We obtained a document showing that the person who had helped fund the Scientology-Nation of Islam partnership by paying for Minister Louis Farrakhan’s courses was none other than… Leah Remini. “Leah has always had huge affinity and desire to help Black People through out the world,” the document says. “As a Result of her help on this cycle, Min. Louis Farrakhan and all of the top NOI Execs are now on services.” Wow! We have a feeling that’s not something she’s going to get back in a refund.

March 13 was not only L. Ron Hubbard’s 106th birthday, but also Danny Masterson’s 41st, and to celebrate, we posted some smuggled pages from the episode of The Ranch he was filming. The jokes were just as tasteless as you’d imagine.

The next day, we uncorked a lengthy piece we’d put a lot of work into. We put together what we felt was a fair look at Marty Rathbun’s full trajectory, tracing the way his influential blog had changed over the years 2009-2016. Seen from that perspective, it made his evolution, from Scientology rebel to Scientology attack dog, all the more mysterious. This has now become one of the stories we direct people to most often as we are asked, constantly, what the hell happened to Marty Rathbun?

On March 18, we noted that David Miscavige had been mostly holding back from attacking Leah Remini like he did the guests on her show. But once news of a second season broke, the gloves came off. Since then, the attack website the church maintains (and puts its name on, for once) has been a sewer of filth thrown at Leah and her contributors. Which, of course, only proves Leah’s point.


Two days later, we reported that there was another surprising development coming out of Dani Lemberger’s lawsuit in Tel Aviv, which was attended by a whole group of big time Scientology attorneys, like Monique Yingling, and church executives, like Marc Yager. “Our court observers say that Judge Levhar-Sharon dressed down the large church delegation in English, telling them that she had heard ‘terrible’ testimony about Scientology’s treatment of people, and that if the two sides could not come to some kind of settlement agreement, she would be writing a judgment that she said was so harsh, it would likely end Scientology in the state of Israel — and might, she added, have a global impact on the church.” Yowza. Lucky for Scientology, they settled the case.

The month of March still had some big surprises for us. We could hardly believe our luck, for example, when Scientology celebrity Kuba Ka, the “God of Pop,” announced that he was leaving the church and his friend and adviser, actress Vikki Lizzi, told us that Kuba planned to sue. Oh, if only. The next day, we published our story about the two-hour Skype interview we did with Kuba and his mother and their entourage. After that conversation, we came away liking Kuba Ka — or rather, Jakub Stepniak, the man behind the god — more than we expected to. Sadly, not long after that interview Stepniak “retired” his pop persona, and Kuba Ka vanished into thin air.

Delayed a year by the presidential election, Reza Aslan’s “Believer” CNN series finally aired, and its March 26 episode about indie Scientology was as annoying as we assumed it would be. Aslan started out his show saying that Scientology “gets a bad rap,” which was pretty terribly timed after the success of Leah Remini’s first season, and then he proceeded to make all sorts of ridiculous claims about how indie Scientology might become a major world religion — without telling viewers that the two groups he interviewed had a total of about 60 and 20 members. It was a dishonest show which, like his other episodes, really only had one goal — to aggrandize Aslan himself. On the other hand, Aslan’s bad television did motivate us to write something fun about Lawrence Wright, Aslan, and L. Ron Hubbard, and Observer gave us one of our favorite illustrations of the year to adorn it, referring to Aslan’s subtle slam that if Larry had been around in Biblical times, he would have prevented Christianity from happening by grilling Jesus…


And we absolutely loved Larry’s reaction, at Twitter: “A lot of what Jesus told me was off the record.”

And finally, March had one more big surprise for us. We learned from a tipster that the Spectrum system, formerly known as Time Warner Cable and the second largest cable system in the U.S., had set aside placeholder pages for a Scientology channel, just as David Miscavige has been promising. And Miscavige’s description of where Scientology’s channel would show up matched a description of the Spectrum system. Here was what appeared to be real evidence that a Scientology channel was coming. But months later, nothing has come of it, and Spectrum removed most — but not all — of the evidence that a deal might be in place there. On Saturday, Miscavige made another promise that the channel was coming in “a few short months,” but we’ll believe it when we see it.

1. LAPD probing Scientology and Danny Masterson for multiple rapes, cover-up
2. Leah Remini’s second season of ‘Scientology and the Aftermath’ — what do you want to see in it?
3. Danny Masterson: Victim C gets support from a veteran actress, but will LAPD answer the call?
4. Scientology goes into full smear mode in reaction to Leah Remini getting 2nd season

5. Judge: Testimony about Scientology’s abuses so bad, it should get kicked out of the country

A LOOK BACK AT MARCH 2016: Attorney Ken Dandar dodges a million-dollar bullet. Tabatha Fauteux’s boyfriend tells us what really happened in her death while training for Scientology’s Narconon network. Belgium blows its prosecution of the church. And the saga of former Scientology helper cop, Skip Young.

A LOOK BACK AT MARCH 2015: Federal Judge James Whittemore hamstrung the Garcia fraud lawsuit with a stunning ruling, we dug up even more evidence that L. Ron Hubbard used the threat of “R2-45” to intimidate former church members, Paul Haggis gave us his thoughts as Alex Gibney’s Going Clear debuted on HBO, and we got to hear Sylvia DeWall being declared an SP while it was happening,

A LOOK BACK AT MARCH 2014: John Travolta mangled Idina Menzel’s name at the Oscars. We interviewed Russell Miller as his book Bare-Faced Messiah came back in print after 27 years. Jillian Schlesinger told us her gripping story of escape from the Sea Org.

A LOOK BACK AT MARCH 2013: We had fun with SMERSH Madness. We leaked Sea Org life histories. Narconon Arrowhead CEO Gary Smith lost his professional certification.

Five of our favorites from the most-upvoted comments of March 2017

March 3: Phil Jones
There is definitely a leak at the LAPD. One thing said in private to an officer there by us has been repeated by Scientology on numerous occasions. The only way for Scientology to know about it was for the officer to tell them about it. Aside from us mentioning that thing to the officer that one time we have never spoken to anyone about it anywhere else.

March 14: Karen de la Carriere
There is so much I could say on Marty but I will not get into it. I will reveal only one thing, I did support him financially in 2010 and 2011 significantly. I also financed his trip to see Sarge (LRH Caretaker RIP Steve Pfauth) for his book and gave Sarge a generous donation as well at Marty’s request. In addition to the cash support sent for two years I gave Marty an AMEX Platinum card to use at will, and paid his usage of the card. He purchased a complete computer system and did other travel on the credit card. When he turned on me and Jeff with vicious hatred and even some lies, it was stunning. On his blog he called me his “Spanish Angel” more than once in some poetic way of relaying thanks for the financial support and he sent me stunning Emails of gratitude and affection. His change of character turning on me with such venom has been hard to understand. He did hold my hand and help me exit the cult and for that I will be forever grateful. It’s hard for me because he helped me see straight and he was my rescue.

March 20: Mat Pesch
Probably no one has endured more physical and mental abuse from David Miscavige than Marc Yager. He started on the Apollo as a child, as a Sea Org member. Forced by Miscavige to divorce his wife (who reportedly had three abortions). Made to build a cage for himself in the area known as “the swamp” near the Old Gilman House. He lived in the cage by himself for months. As the Security Chief at the time (Gary Moorehead) has reported, Miscavige regularly visited Marc, made him stand at attention and then punched him in the stomach. There are many, many, many eye witness accounts of Miscavige beating up Marc and doing things to him to break him down mentally. Miscavige even had Marc’s head shaved at a large meeting of other execs. Marc also spent years in “The Hole.” This guy has been brainwashed for decades in a way that would make North Korea jealous. Now he is Miscavige’s trained monkey used to represent the reputation of Scientology in Isreal. Marc is a caring, mild, intelligent person. His story is sad to the extreme. It is basically a story of a young boy being a victim of human trafficking at the hands of a vicious cult.

March 26: Shorpy
The “OCA” is stupid.
This one is valid.


Answer true or false.

1. I salivate at the sight of mittens.
2. If I go into the street, I’m apt to be bitten by a horse.
3. Some people never look at me.
4. Spinach makes me feel alone.
5. My sex life is A-okay.
6. When I look down from a high spot, I want to spit.
7. I like to kill mosquitoes.
8. Cousins are not to be trusted.
9. It makes me embarrassed to fall down.
10. I get nauseous from too much roller skating.
11. I think most people would cry to gain a point.
12. I cannot read or write.
13. I am bored by thoughts of death.
14. I become homicidal when people try to reason with me.
15. I would enjoy the work of a chicken flicker.
16. I am never startled by a fish.
17. My mother’s uncle was a good man.
18. I don’t like it when somebody is rotten.
19. People who break the law are wise guys.
20. I think beavers work too hard.
21. I use shoe polish to excess.
22. I like mannish children.
23. I have always been disturbed by the size of Lincoln’s ears.
24. I always let people get ahead of me at swimming pools.
25. Most of the time I go to sleep without saying goodbye.
26. I am not afraid of picking up doorknobs.
27. I believe I smell as good as most people.
28. Frantic screams make me nervous.
29. It’s hard for me to say the right thing when I find myself in a room full of mice.
30. I would never tell my nickname in a crisis.
31. A wide necktie is a sign of disease.
32. As a child I was deprived of licorice.
33. I would never shake hands with a gardener.
34. My eyes are always cold.

Answer Key: Sorry, there’s not one.

March 27: OTVIIIisGrrr8!
For this one rare moment in eons of time, both we in Scientology and the SP’s agree that Reza Aslan is a dipstick.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,972 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 118 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,181 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,955 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,729 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,075 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,569 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,609 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,321 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 847 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,936 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,076 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,396 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,371 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 727 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,029 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,135 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,538 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,411 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 992 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,497 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,741 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,850 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on December 23, 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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