Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Scientology sues Laura DeCrescenzo in latest plot to kill her 8-year forced-abortion claim

[Eric Lieberman and Bert Deixler]

From the “you have to be kidding us” department, we have this last-minute 2017 news. A week ago, Scientology’s attorneys Eric Lieberman and Bert Deixler filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Church of Scientology International in California.

The defendant? Laura DeCrescenzo.

Yes, the church has filed a federal lawsuit against the woman who has been suing Scientology for more than eight years in a forced-abortion and abuse case that we’ve been following closely, and which has managed to survive being dismissed once, brought back on appeal, vindicated through two motions for summary judgment, and delayed with appeals all the way to the US Supreme Court.

But now, in maybe the most cynical (and yet completely characteristic) Scientology legal filing we’ve seen in a long time, CSI’s attorneys are telling a federal court that it should erase the last eight years of litigation that have occurred at the state-level Los Angeles Superior Court and toss out Laura’s lawsuit entirely.

The reasoning behind their argument is rather murky, but it goes something like this…


If you’ve followed our reporting on this case, you know that a central issue with it was the timing of Laura first filing it, in 2009. By then, five years had passed since she left her job working for Scientology’s Sea Organization and its billion-year contract, 112-hour work weeks, and pay of pennies an hour. Scientology has always argued that she waited too long, and that by statute any lawsuit regarding her treatment in the Sea Org had to be filed within four years of her leaving it.

Also, when Laura first filed her lawsuit, one of the many claims she made was that her treatment violated human trafficking laws, which is actually a federal issue. So Scientology had the case “removed” to federal court initially, and they successfully argued that it was too late to file a trafficking claim, and that part of her lawsuit was dismissed. The lawsuit then moved back to state court, where Judge Ronald Sohigian dismissed the rest of the lawsuit, also on grounds that Laura had waited too long to file it. But an appeals court agreed with Laura’s attorneys that Scientology’s actions since Laura had left the Sea Org should be taken into account — Laura argued that she had been surveilled and harassed after leaving the Sea Org (but remaining in the church), and it was only later that she realized that she’d been victimized and should take the church to court.

Years have passed since then, and we were in the courtroom as twice the merits of Laura’s lawsuit were judged by the court to be sufficiently solid so that Scientology motions for summary judgment were defeated. LA Superior Court has moved at a glacial pace, however, and it was only recently that the lawsuit was given to yet another new judge and a trial date in August 2018 established, at least for the first of two trials, which will deal once again with the timing issue and whether Laura filed too late or not.

Got all that? Now, with that as background, Scientology’s attorneys have gone back to federal court, and are arguing that when the human trafficking claim was thrown out eight years ago, the rest of the lawsuit should have been as well — in other words, they’re asking a federal court to ignore all of the stuff that’s been going on in LA Superior Court for the last eight years.

If that sounds desperate, it sure reads that way, and we have the document for you, below.

We asked Laura’s attorney, John Blumberg, for a comment, and he indicated that a response on Laura’s behalf would be filed in federal court that will demonstrate why Scientology’s attempt to derail her state case will fail.

We also asked our attorney Scott Pilutik to look at the complaint — Scott has been watching Laura’s case for nearly its entire history and knows it intimately. Here’s what he sent us…

​That’s some convoluted stuff there. It feels like a Hail Mary pass though, because I can’t imagine the federal court accepting their argument on its face. ​Their entire argument is reduced in the Wherefore clause:

“Plaintiff requests that the court issue a declaratory judgment stating that its prior judgment, dismissing LD’s federal human trafficking claim on the ground that the claim was barred by a four year statute of limitations and that equitable estoppel did not bar CSI from raising that defense, precludes LD from raising the issue of equitable estoppel in her claims pending in the state court action because those claims accrued on the same date as did her federal human trafficking claim, those claims also had statutes of limitations of four years or less, and this court’s prior judgment decided that equitable estoppel does not apply to the period running from the date LD’s claims accrued and the date she first filed the state court action.”

They’re essentially saying that because Laura lost on one statute of limitations argument in federal court (the one relating to human trafficking), she should automatically lose any statute of limitation argument where the facts occurred around the same time. So the state court’s scheduled trial on the issue of statute of limitations for the newer claims shouldn’t go forward.

The problem with this argument is that the reasons why a court might set aside statute of limitations are fact-specific and the outcomes can differ depending on the circumstances. I’m not going to speculate on what differences there might be but I think the federal court is going to laugh at Scientology’s bold presumption that one four-year statute of limitation is effectively as good as any other.

There’s also the question of why this issue is only coming before the federal court at the eleventh hour, since the facts necessary to rule on Scientology’s request gelled, oh, seven plus years ago, at the time of Laura’s second amended complaint. This is basically the same argument that failed before the California Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court, except aimed at the federal court, which will likely take a very dim view of the suggestion that it step on a state proceeding concerning the very same issue, scheduled only months away.

Thanks, Scott.

And we want to remind readers, once again, it was Bert Deixler who told the California State Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court that Laura DeCrescenzo should not get her own personal files out of Scientology for this case because of their “religious” content. Both courts ignored him, and when Laura finally got her files, what was in it wasn’t “religious,” it was nasty material showing a “church” using harrowing techniques to control a 12-year-old child who merely wanted to see her mother.


We just hope, someday, that some other news media organization besides the Underground Bunker takes an interest in Bert Deixler’s work in this case. And here’s another gem from him…


Scientology v. DeCrescenzo Federal Complaint by Tony Ortega on Scribd


In September, Paul Haggis called out Marty Rathbun in a big way

[Paul Haggis and Marty Rathbun]

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

Our mysterious drone pilot began the month for us with one final treat — a flyover of Sweeney Ranch in Wyoming, where Scientology tried and failed to put in another CST vault for storing L. Ron Hubbard’s works in case of civilization collapse.

Leah Remini’s second season of Scientology and the Aftermath continued with one of our favorite episodes of all, which featured Bruce Hines and Leah’s mother Vicki Marshall talking about the nonsense of Scientology auditing and its “Bridge to Total Freedom.” They even talked about the secrets of OT 8 on national television! Wow.

Rod Keller got a victory lap after a school district in Missouri decided to boot a sneaky Scientology Truth About Drugs front group after Rod’s reporting made the district aware of what was really going on.

The next day, inspired by what Leah Remini had put on the air about the secrets of Scientology OT 8, we decided it was time to put the actual materials of New OT 8 online for the first time. (What Wikileaks had put online a decade earlier doesn’t reflect what former Scientologists told us they had experienced on that ultimate OT level.) So there it is, for you to see for yourself, what it can cost a Scientologist half a million to two million dollars to see. And it’s as underwhelming as you’d expect.

One of the great results of Leah Remini’s TV series is that it has motivated so many more people to come forward with their stories of escaping Scientology. It’s been a tidal wave of material showing up on social media and we gave up trying to keep up with it all. But one story we did decide to dig into further. We talked to Clarissa Adams about how Scientology had ripped her family apart. We were especially stunned when she told us about how her mother had reacted when Clarissa quit the Sea Org at 20: “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 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 said he was also shocked to hear the news. “It hit him hard.” But she still remembered 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.”

On September 12, we were thrilled as John Brousseau appeared on ‘Aftermath’ to give his first-ever television interview in an episode that also featured Gary “Jackson” Morehead. The episode was all about David Miscavige’s rise to power and his ruthless behavior. You just know he’s watched it a dozen times already.

The appointment of an Ohio state representative kicked up a bit of controversy over his past involvement with Scientology. And it turned out one of our readers was well placed to fill us in on what really went down.

On the 16th, we had another terrible disconnection story, this time about how Brian Sheen had learned about his daughter giving birth to a grandson that he won’t get a chance to see. Disconnected at birth — this is the legacy of Scientology’s claim to be “clearing the planet.”

Leah Remini’s second season was still going strong, and on September 19 there was a highly anticipated episode featuring celebrity recruiter Karen Pressley and Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis, who used far stronger language than he did in ‘Going Clear’ to call out Scientology’s celebs.

The next day, when Jada Smith tried to play down her association with Scientology after being called out by Leah Remini, we checked in with the woman who ran a Scientology school for Jada and Will. Of course Jada was a dedicated Scientologist, she told us.

As Marty Rathbun’s attacks on Lawrence Wright and Leah Remini and Mike Rinder went on (and on), Paul Haggis sent us a message about something mentioned on a Scientology attack website that could only have come from Rathbun. “By blurting out information they could only get by reading our emails, by revealing the names Collero and Lightning, the church itself has announced that Marty is providing them confidential information and actively colluding with the church.” At the end of the letter, Haggis challenged Rathbun directly: “Marty, I don’t know what you are doing or what you hope to gain by it, but I am afraid it is going to explode in your face. At one point you took a courageous stand. It is hard for me to watch what you are doing now, knowing who you were, even for a brief time. If you ever decide to come clean, I will be here for you, as you were for me. And I protect my friends.” Haggis then followed up with us when Rathbun attacked him over it at his website.

On Sept 27, we said goodbye to our friend Bernie Feshbach, a man who hated Scientology but loved his Scientologist grandkids. For several years Bernie had talked to us about his notorious sons, the Feshbach brothers, and about his grandson-in-law, Tommy Davis. And about European cycling. We miss him.

One of 2017’s surprises was the emergence of Erin Hodges Plumb, who became an enthusiastic correspondent in California and generally a hoot as well. In September she first got on our radar when she crashed a party at Scientology’s Int Base and brought along with her a copy of Karen Pressley’s new book, Escaping Scientology.

And another great addition to the Bunker in 2017: Historian Chris Owen submitted a very timely look at L. Ron Hubbard’s 1932 trip to Puerto Rico, ostensibly for hurricane relief, but eventually for gold mining.

And we finished up the month with rare home video from the LRH Birthday celebration, the first ever held, on the Freewinds cruise ship in 1989.

1. HURRICANE LEAH: ‘The defenses are crumbling. Scientology in Los Angeles is dying’
2. Moss wins Emmy for portraying totalitarian cult victim and doesn’t care what you think about it
3. Scientology’s ultimate prize: For the first time online, the current ‘OT 8’ materials laid bare
4. Director Paul Haggis pens an open letter to Marty Rathbun after Scientology’s latest smear
5. Tonight, Paul Haggis calls out Scientology’s celebs: ‘Damn them for being purposely blind’

A LOOK BACK AT SEPTEMBER 2016: Marty Rathbun goes on the attack against Ron Miscavige and Louis Theroux. The anonymous drone pilot begins premiering his footage of Scientology bases. Jason Lee ditches Scientology. And Steve Cannane’s excellent book Fair Game comes out.

A LOOK BACK AT SEPTEMBER 2015: We marked a full decade since Shelly Miscavige first vanished. Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear took home three Emmy awards. And we broke the news that Jim Carrey’s girlfriend, Cat White, was a Scientologist on the SRD when she killed herself.

A LOOK BACK AT SEPTEMBER 2014: Nancy Cartwright makes perhaps the creepiest Scientology ad ever. Jim Jackson remembers Lyman Spurlock. And Scientology crows about getting money from Google.

A LOOK BACK AT SEPTEMBER 2013: Scientology’s private dancer, live-blogging at the Monique Rathbun temporary restraining order hearing, and day two’s live-blog which set a then-record number of comments for a single blog post at the Bunker (3,442).

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

September 6: otviii2late
OT8 was the beginning of the end for me. I remember finally completing a long, gruesome OT8 which I thought would never end, stepping off the ship that I never thought I would ever escape, into the sunshine and thinking finally, now THIS is freedom. I had finally escaped that hellhole and OT8. That was my EP. I vowed that under no circumstance would anybody ever take my money, my freedom and my mind like that again. And with that, I stepped not just away from the ship, but away from Scientology forever. Thanks to the bullshit of OT8. Simply put, the end phenomenal of OT8 is supposed to be freedom from amnesia on the whole track, clearly indicating an expectation that you will recall everything that’s ever happened to you from the beginning of time. It’s actually the opposite. You end up with no memories at all of your whole track and instead run some more BTS with the recognition that it’s their lives, not yours being run and that’s it. It’s so short and unsatisfying–a massive financial rip off. I ran the same version as Vicki, Luis and Mary. What you have here is correct… The only good that came out of it is that I had hit the top of the bridge and realized that’s all there is — and it’s worse than I thought. Freedom is what you have outside of Scientology, not in it. It made me walk away forever.

September 8: Michael Leonard Tilse
Some people cannot fathom how a scientologist can just be so solid, so uncaring, so unemotional when they put scientology ahead of family. It’s that they have created the ability to fully disconnect from their emotions. I think this happens primarily during the Training Routines where you spend long hours learning how not to have physical or emotional reactions to anything a person does or says. Scientologists think this is an ability gained. It really is dehumanization. So when faced with a genuine, important emotional situation, the loss of a son or daughter or grand children, a scientologist reaches into this well learned ability bag of tricks and puts on an unflinching front. I know from experience how proud a scientologist can feel while doing this. “I kept my TRs IN!” is the thought. But it really is a well learned and deployed synthetic sociopathy. An efficient masking of feeling and the connection between people, with a substitution of a calculated and complex artificial “beingness” that denies human compassion and substitutes scientology concepts and principles and loyalty. It’s a sick fucking warped attitude and it kills people visibly or invisibly.

September 9: Patty Moher
I’ve been on both sides of the insane Scientology war machine. I worked for OSA for many years prior to leaving Scientology. Among the many jobs I performed for them was collecting intel (dirt) on people speaking out against the cult. Back then, there was a checklist assigned to each “enemy”. The first checklist was Overt Data Collection and it required that I physically visit, City Halls, libraries, courts, including probate, Deeds and Land records, Civil, local, county, state and federal court houses, to name a few. Each place would be traveled to, sometime hours away, and then time spent culling records to get as much info as possible on that person. I was looking for dirt on the person. Lawsuits, bankruptcy, arrests, convictions, newspaper articles, etc. The purpose of the checklist was to collect public info on an enemy in an attempt to silence him. In many cases it worked. Many people don’t want their dirty laundry aired on the internet or in the old days, with flyers about you passed out to your neighbors, and people go silent and sue for peace. Scientology considers this practice a “successful action” and therefore something that should be repeated over and over again. I have also been a target of their wrath, with my very own special hate page. I’m not actually ashamed or appalled by it, instead I wear it like a badge of honor. Today, it’s a matter of a few taps on the computer and you can collect information on anyone pretty easily. What took weeks of collecting data on cult enemies can now be done in minutes. It’s very easy for them to go after people now. OSA knows there will be some kickback for putting up their hate pages, but they don’t care. To them this is successful and their mission is to silence all critics of Scientology. The louder you are the more you attract their attention. It takes a certain kind of courage to stand up to this cult. Thanks to all that do.

September 16: Bernie Headley
I have a two year old grandson I have never met due to disconnection. I am grateful that a few friends have been able to send me pictures. I didn’t know Stephanie was married until after the fact. I didn’t know she was pregnant until after the fact. I didn’t know of Hunter’s birth until after the fact. I am thankful that Stephanie’s pregnancy did get Stephanie and her husband offloaded from the SO (new policy after Claire’s lawsuit).

September 23: Mat Pesch
Wow, I continue to be really worried for Marty. Its been stated before that I was the first ex-Scientologist Marty contacted after escaping but I have never disclosed WHY that was. The truth is that Marty had gone into a heavy depression and didn’t seem to want to live. His now wife, Monique didn’t know what to do for him. She had never been a Scientologist and had no reality on the world he had come from. She suggested that he might contact some ex Scientology friend hoping it would help him. Because of that Marty contacted me with an e-mail and within a few days Amy and I flew down to Texas. We fished, played board games, laughed and most of all we let Marty download about Scientology, hour after hour. We all had a great time and we never once had the idea of speaking out against Scientology. That moment would come later when we saw Tommy Davis on TV saying there was no such thing as disconnection. Eventually Marty decided to speak out regarding the abuses within the “church” and he seemed to be doing fine. He went on to marry Monique and adopt a beautiful baby. When I saw videos of Marty’s reaction to the churches non stop attack for months outside his house, I started worrying about his mental health. While I never really followed the things that Marty was posting, I could see at a glance that he was getting more and more into his own head. I told Amy numerous times that I was worried he would have a mental breakdown. It was only a couple months ago that I saw “My Scientology Movie”. Toward the end a message is delivered to Marty from Miscavige that spins him. Marty starts going into a self pity talk about how he can’t have friends and he isn’t employable. I thought of shit, they broke this guy. Now whether Scientology used blackmail, money or both, the fact is that they have Marty barking every time they ring the bell. With Scientology, enough is never enough. They will use and abuse this poor son of a bitch until there is nothing left to use. I fear Marty will eventually hurt himself. If and when that happens no one in Scientology will lose a single tear or a second of sleep. Miscavige will have a big smirk on his face and will celebrate with another glass of scotch. If anyone has Marty’s new address I would appreciate it.


Bonus items from our tipsters

Mark your calendars…



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,978 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 124 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,187 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,961 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,735 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,081 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,575 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,615 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,327 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 853 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,942 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,082 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,402 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,377 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 733 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,035 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,141 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,544 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,417 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 998 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,503 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,747 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,856 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on December 29, 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email