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Looking back at July ’17: How a billionaire set up psych drugs to fuel Scientology into the future

[Bob and Trish Duggan, their trophy, and David Miscavige]

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

On Independence Day, we reported that Clearwater bar owner Clay Irwin had managed to download images from the spy camera that was planted outside his house. They included not only images of his house but another one as well. Based on those images, we were later able to confirm that the Church of Scientology was behind the surveillance of Clay’s driveway.

On July 7, we did that thing we do every once in a while and bring you Scientology at its source with another fun excerpt of an actual L. Ron Hubbard lecture, in this case a really fun talk that Hubbard gave in 1963. In it, Hubbard revealed the real name of Earth society as given by our space overlords, and he also pitied people who believe in God, who fail to understand that they are a god, and that Scientology can give them powers to crush a planet between thumb and forefinger. Funny how the Scientology celebs never talk about this stuff.

In what we think was one of our more important stories of the year, we revealed that Jeffrey Augustine had found a very interesting document for us. It showed that in the last week of 2015, Bob and Trish Duggan, the world’s richest Scientologists, had socked away a million shares of stock from the pharmaceutical firm AbbVie in a foundation under their names. AbbVie is the maker of Humira, the rheumatoid arthritis treatment that is the biggest-selling drug in the world, and its stock was trading for just under $60 a share at that time — so the stock the Duggans set aside was worth about $60 million. (AbbVie also makes depakote, a drug for treating a bipolar diagnosis. So yes, AbbVie makes “psych” drugs.) The Duggans had a million shares of AbbVie stock to set aside because in 2015, AbbVie had bought Bob’s firm Pharmacyclics for $21 billion, boosting Bob’s personal wealth to almost $4 billion at that time. Anyway, according to the tax filing made by the Duggan Foundation, that AbbVie stock was expected to bring in revenue of about $3 million a year, and the foundation was very up front that it would only disburse that income in the way of charitable grants to the Church of Scientology or its various charitable entities. So, the upshot: Bob and Trish had socked away a big chunk of money so that as long as Humira is selling well and AbbVie’s stock is healthy, the Church of Scientology will reliably get a few million bucks a year into perpetuity. Later in the year, we got confirmation that Bob and Trish were splitting up, and we also got word that Bob has a new science-y girlfriend and may be stepping away from the church, so in that light we’re thinking that this gift of Humira-related revenue to Scientology may be Bob’s “leave me alone” money.

In July, it was time for the usual “Maiden Voyage” celebrations for Scientologists to applaud their leader, but this year David Miscavige’s message to his flock was decidedly darker than in past celebrations. He actually said this: “So, not to put too sharp a point on it, but this is the moment you have to ask: What did you think you were joining? The local bowling league?”


On July 12, we got excited about the prospect of an ‘Aftermath’ episode being filmed at the Clearwater church of Pastor Willy Rice, but A&E changed its mind. But at least we got to know Pastor Willy, who has been featured in our pages numerous times since.

Marty Rathbun was still making his little video attacks, and in one of them he made a snide remark about our interest in Shelly Miscavige, so we obliged him and explained why we’re still asking questions about her, 12 years after she vanished. We make no apologies about that.

Like everyone else, we were excited to learn in July that Leah’s series was nominated for an Emmy. But we also wondered if that might have an effect on her competition, fellow nominee Neil deGrasse Tyson, who has said some uninformed things about Scientology.

On July 17, Allen Barton let us publish an extract from his new book, which has a chapter talking about legendary acting coach Milton Katselas and his involvement in Scientology.

Even some six years after Tommy Davis lost his job as Scientology’s international spokesman, we still get asked all the time about him by the public, and on July 20 we had a big update that we knew would interest his legion of fans. Once again, he’d changed jobs, leaving his work for billionaire Australian gambling magnate (and former Scientologist) James Packer and going back to work for Los Angeles real estate investor Tom Barrack. And also, that we had found that Tommy had filed for divorce from his wife and fellow former Sea Org flack, Jessica Feshbach. The couple has two young daughters, and we truly do hope they work out something that is best for their girls.

Meanwhile, Janis Gillham Grady’s highly anticipated book about her time as a Commodore’s Messenger came out, Janis was kind enough to give us an excerpt to share with our readers, and Jon Atack offered his thoughts.

The Marty Rathbun situation continued to get weirder. On July 24, we reported that Rathbun’s former attorney Ray Jeffrey and his colleagues had filed a motion with the court asking for Marty and his wife Monique Rathbun to be compelled to testify in depositions to explain what the hell was going on with dropping their lawsuit and Marty going on the attack for Scientology. The next day, we pointed out that the Rathbuns had lawyered up with an expensive San Antonio attorney. Later, the San Antonio court dismissed the motion on jurisdictional grounds, but the attorneys can re-file in the county where the Rathbuns live. Last we checked, they’re still considering whether to do that. In the San Antonio hearing we attended in August, the Rathbun attorney made it pretty clear that they were willing to go for a writ of mandamus to prevent the depositions, a legal move that would cost the Rathbuns around $20,000, Ray explained to us.

On July 26, we marked the 75th birthday of Paulette Cooper, the unbreakable Miss Lovely herself. Just recently, she filled a lecture hall and brought down the house with her account of what she went through at the hands of Scientology. She hasn’t slowed down a bit.

The next day, we posted a lengthy piece by Derek Bloch about his experience taking part in a television series about Scientology disconnection which has not yet aired. Derek was one of several Bunker regulars who had taken part, and it involved trying to put people together in ambushes and the emotional meetings that resulted. Derek gave us just a taste of what it was like to confront his mother, who didn’t want to talk to him. Spurred by Derek’s example, Phil and Willie Jones told us about their experience filming for the same series, which was produced for the A&E network but has not been shown. Will it get a chance to air after Leah Remini’s run is over? We honestly have no idea.

1. Scientology’s ‘Block Party today in Clearwater: Sending a message to the Lucky Anchor?
2. David Miscavige’s dark vision for Scientology: ‘What did you think you were joining?’
3. Ray Jeffrey to judge: Order Rathbuns to turn over financial records and testify
4. Leah Remini is filming an ‘Aftermath’ episode in Clearwater’s oldest Baptist church on July 22
5. Almost 12 years ago, Shelly Miscavige vanished. Here’s why we keep asking about her.

A LOOK BACK AT JULY 2016: How the parents of a Kazakh woman got her back from the Sea Org. We marked the passing of Steve “Sarge” Pfauth at 70. We found that Joey Chait’s story was more complex than some had it. Rebecca McKee told us how she reunited with her high school sweetheart. And we said goodbye to Arlene Cordova.

A LOOK BACK AT JULY 2015: We wrote about Scientology’s day care from hell. Brian Sheen’s full Scientology story turned out to be pretty fascinating. Chris Shelton emceed us in Denver. And Nick Lister dishes on Tom Cruise ruthlessly putting ethics in on his own family.

A LOOK BACK AT JULY 2014: Our Independence Day special, when Jeremy Powers defied disconnection and came home. We said goodbye to John Joseph, a man who cared. Camilla Andersson went public after 29 years in Scientology. And we live-blogged ID network’s show on Elli Perkins (which featured your proprietor).

A LOOK BACK AT JULY 2013: Leah Remini defects, Shelly Miscavige speaks, Jim Lynch exteriorizes, and Christian Stolte rocks.

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

July 4: OutAndAbout
I was a public for 25 years, on and off. I was doing the basics at home. I decided to join staff at an org and it was at the training in LA that I realized the truth. I could feel them trying to separate me from my child. I could see so clearly that it was all a farce and that they were more focused on the stat deadline than helping people. You can’t see this while just doing extension courses. I was far away from home and when it hit me that this was not what I thought it was, I went into survival mode and got us out of there. I will never forget the daily trips to the restroom where someone was always crying in the other stall, wearing a SO uniform. It was the most depressing, weird place. When I wouldn’t comply, they yelled at me and slammed their hands down on the table and tried to shame me, telling me I was worthless. After finding The Bunker and Mike Rinder’s blog, I now know that they were doing the drills to break me down. It didn’t work on me. It just pissed me off. I am still peeling off the layers of indoctrination but I have come a long way. I changed my phone number, facebook and email and they still managed to find me. Thank you Tony for this blog and for not giving up and putting the pressure on. I just get sick every time I see someone suffering disconnection and I know that eventually I would have faced that as they tried to distance me from my child. Happy 4th to you all! Embrace your freedom!

July 7: Len Zinberg
Oh, Tony, this really hit a nerve. This is the stuff I bought into, hook, line and sinker! And listening today to Hubbard construct this bullshit cosmology becomes for me, an exercise in recalling the virtues of humility. What hubris the man had! Even today, I feel a tinge of grudging admiration for the old fucker to have bamboozled me so thoroughly back then. Ooo wa ta fu lie wuz. oh what a fool I was! And to you lucky never-ins: Yes, Scientologists really do believe this crap!

July 10: Mighty Korgo of Teegeeack
Things haven’t changed that much over the years. The blather used to be about “clearing the planet.” I took a WOG friend from university to see Captain Bill speak to a group of perhaps a thousand Scientologists at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto, about 1973. There the Captain spoke of clearing the planet. My friend said, “The guy up at the front is talking about taking over the world and the audience is laughing at the wrong parts.”

July 20: Tim Brown
I can’t believe it. With all the Scientology [Tommy Davis] has had for all those years, and he can’t keep a job and stay married? Kind of makes you wonder if it’s all bullshit.

July 27: chukicita
Damn, Derek. Just damn. I will have to be a little late to work today, I can’t go in like this. I believe your mom is still in there. You saw it in her eyes. In the way she closed the car door to contain your father so she could have one moment with you. In that handshake. Handshake. She knew if she hugged you like she wanted to, the armor would crack. She has been taught to fear that. No amount of auditing will ever remove her memory of that moment. For any mom.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,976 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 122 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,185 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,959 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,733 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,079 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,573 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,613 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,325 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 851 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,940 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,080 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,400 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,375 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 731 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,033 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,139 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,542 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,415 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 996 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,501 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,745 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,854 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on December 27, 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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