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While Scientology struggled, David Miscavige upped his game in 2017

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

On October 4, we asked a question that caused a stir: Is Scientology’s “RPF” a thing of the past? Punishing Sea Org members with the “Rehabilitation Project Force” is legendary, and we’ve talked to people who were stuck for years on the prison-like detail. But recent defectors tell us that over the past several years, Scientology leader David Miscavige systematically disbanded the RPF in places around the world, complaining that it carried too many Hubbard-era rules and regulations. Sea Org members are still being punished, we’re told, but no longer with trappings of the RPF — and we credited activists like Mike Rinder for exposing the RPF’s legacy of mistreatment.

The next day we provided another excerpt from a 1989 home video made aboard the Freewinds. This time we featured the remarkable OT 8 graduation speech of a woman named Margie Zacks. This is a Scientologist reaching the pinnacle of achievement after years of studying L. Ron Hubbard’s “technology.” But for many of us, seeing her talk about how she got there was simply sad.

It was just a photograph, but on October 5 we posted a shot of David Miscavige (see above) that had showed up in a copy of Freewinds magazine showing the 57-year-old Scientology leader standing in the cruise ship’s engine room, perfectly coiffed while surrounded by greasy marine equipment. The photo proved very popular with our readers. Quipped one of them: “He looks like a perma-tanned Barry Manilow tribute act.”


Rod Keller helped clear up some misunderstandings about a new Scientology facility in Guelph, Ontario. The church is renting some temporary offices for a “CLO” — Continental Liaison Office, something like a glorified accounting office — while a permanent facility is being renovated elsewhere. But even if it’s just temporary, the new Scientology effort there was met with stiff opposition from the locals.

After a brief post-Emmys break, Leah Remini was back with another gut-wrenching episode of ‘Aftermath’ that featured Tara Reile and Nathan Rich, who had been subjected to a Scientologist-run ranch in New Mexico where Scientology parents dumped their kids. Before the episode aired, we talked to Tara about how Scientology had tried to convince her to pull her involvement in it. And the next day, we talked to Nathan and Tara about the predictable smears Scientology posted the night the episode aired. (And later, Marie Bilheimer also addressed Scientology’s smears after her ‘Aftermath’ appearance.)

Paulette Cooper keeps digging into her childhood, and on October 12 we posted some new photos of Miss Lovely as you’ve never seen her. “They are the first photos that I’ve ever seen of myself at such a young age,” she says.

It still stuns us that a passage by L. Ron Hubbard endorsing pedophilia can be found in his most important book, Dianetics, and went unscrutinized for decades. Once again, we brought attention to it and Hubbard’s assertion that a 7-year-old girl should not “shudder” at the kiss of an adult man, “even a passionate one” — but this time, the Church of Scientology itself responded, through an official social media account, saying that the word “passionate” had no sexual connotation. Oh really? Well, get a load at how Hubbard used the same word, passionate, in another place in that very same book, 1950’s Dianetics

Mama sneezes, baby gets knocked “unconscious.” Mama runs lightly and blithely into a table and baby gets its head stoved in. Mama has constipation and baby, in the anxious effort, gets squashed. Papa becomes passionate and baby has the sensation of being put into a running washing machine. Mama gets hysterical, baby gets an engram. Papa hits Mama, baby gets an engram. Junior bounces on Mama’s lap, baby gets an engram. And so it goes.

So the guy who used the word “passionate” to refer to rough sex between dad and mom — he means something else when he’s talking about a man passionately kissing a 7-year-old girl? Give it up, Hubbard apologists, this one is a lost cause.

On October 16, Erin Hodges Plumb was back, this time following up on her Int Base adventure by crashing a Mace-Kingsley event in Pasadena.

The next night, it was an ‘Aftermath’ episode we’d really been waiting for, with Mimi Faust talking about being abandoned by her Sea Org mother. We first talked to Mimi about her story back in 2012, but once again Leah gets an emotionally hard-hitting account about how Scientology can rip apart a family. And naturally, Scientology then attacked Mimi at its smear website that same night.

Less than two weeks after he was featured on an episode of Leah Remini’s series with allegations that he terrorized Scientology children at Mace-Kingsley ranch, Wally Hanks died at 70. The proximity seemed portentous, but his family told us Hanks had been ill for quite a while.

The next day, we had a very fun eyewitness account of the Ideal Org opening in Birmingham, England from one of our readers, Graham. We really enjoyed his droll take on these events, which David Miscavige apparently lives for.

On the 24th, Leah Remini aired one of her “special episodes,” and Mat Pesch and Jeffrey Augustine got into the business side of Scientology, and the draconian contracts that members are caught up in.

The next day, historian Chris Owen was back, this time to help us make sense of what the Hungarian government is doing in its investigation of Scientology.

And then Mirriam Francis followed up on her devastating ‘Aftermath’ episode after she made a new discovery involving her mother.

We said goodbye to Ray Emmons in October with the help of Robert Peterson, who told us about Ray’s career as a brave police officer who took on Scientology in Clearwater.

And we had yet another excellent piece from Chris Owen, this time questioning the L. Ron Hubbard legend about his time as a police officer in Los Angeles.

Finally, we had one more obituary for October: Garry Scarff was a complex figure to be sure, but we remember his dogged research as he left us at only 60.

1. This new image of David Miscavige makes years of Scientology Watching all worth it
2. Never before seen: Video of a woman moments after achieving superhuman Scientology powers
3. Scientology slut-shames Mimi Faust after destroying her family because … it’s a church!
4. Here’s how Scientology tried to keep you from seeing tonight’s episode of ‘Leah Remini’
5. Coming to grips with Scientology’s most vile secret, which was hiding in plain sight

A LOOK BACK AT OCTOBER 2016: Karla Taylor’s lawsuit reminded us of the chances people take when the sue Scientology. We broke the news that Tom Cruise was building a double penthouse in Clearwater. And we ID’d one of the private eyes stalking Leah Remini in Denver.

A LOOK BACK AT OCTOBER 2015: The month began with a lot of Cat White and Jim Carrey and Mark Burton coverage, including the young Hollywood Scientologists she hung out with, and the family in Ireland that had first pointed her toward the church. We went to the London premiere of Louis Theroux’s My Scientology Movie. And thanks to Bryan Seymour and Steve Cannane, our trip to Australia’s cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth was a great success. And our big bombshell: The “Knowledge Reports” about Leah Remini that informed her book.

A LOOK BACK AT OCTOBER 2014: Scientology’s private threat letter to the S.F. Chronicle. A perplexing tale about Bob Duggan, the richest Scientologist in the world. Tom Cruise and his medal in London. Marty Rathbun ambushed at LAX by raving Jenny Linson. L. Ron Hubbard’s amazing 1949 letter to Forrest Ackerman. Mark Ebner finds Gay Ribisi’s plaques.

A LOOK BACK AT OCTOBER 2013: Live-blogging the Garcia mini-trial in Tampa, Scientology denied by the US Supreme Court, interpreting Leah Remini’s epic dance, and live-blogging a dramatic hearing in Laura DeCrescenzo’s lawsuit in Los Angeles.

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

October 6: Mat Pesch
An ex Sea Org friend of mine told me that after EVERY event David would spread out pictures of himself from the event and ask which one was the best. He would say things like “Aren’t I good looking?” He was just full of himself. To not cross him she would of course agree and play along. No one wants to say “Dude. You are barely over 5 foot, your face is caved in, your smile is crooked, it looks like arm pit hair was implanted on your head and then styled to make you look like the poster boy for Jail Candy.”

October 8: Pete Griffiths
We counted 44 empty minibuses and many more empty taxis going through the Saint Hill gates to the IAS event. The coaches from Europe were down from 55 a few years ago to 5 last year to just 2 this year. The stream of traffic which usually lasts right up to the 7.00 start time and beyond had trickled off by 6.30. Surely the Scientologists who go year after year have to know that they are dwindling? Oh wait, yes…

October 10: Chee Chalker
Normal aunt/uncle: “I’m so sorry you had to go through that Tara/Rich! I had no idea that was happening……if we had known, we would have pulled you out of that place! I’m so sorry we let you down. Is there anything we can do now?”
Scientology aunt/uncle: “How much were you paid? Aren’t you afraid of all your secrets coming out? How can you do this to your family?!? MILLIONS WILL DIE BECAUSE OF YOU!!!!”

October 11: Observer
After I signed off last night I did a lot of crying. Not because the few seconds of the Wally tape they played dredged up some horrible feelings and memories, but for Tara and Nathan and every innocent child who was ever and is still being subjected to these monstrous adults. They are criminals and should be treated as such. There is no way Hanks did what he did because he was brainwashed and only trying to “save the world.” He did what he did because soulless charlatan Hubbard gave him permission to indulge his sadistic hatred of children without fear of reprisal. THIS IS WHY.

October 26: Douglas D. Douglas
Just to be sure anyone reading this understands, we have a mother abandoning her daughter, who she believes to have been a close male friend in a previous lifetime, to be sexually molested by her husband in this lifetime, in order to save the world by creating a series of paintings depicting incidents in the life of a fabulist’s fictitious lifetime, and when confronted by the daughter then explains to her that the molestation is her own responsibility. And just so I can understand, when dealing with real people and real lives, has Scientology ever made sense?


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,979 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 125 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,188 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,962 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,736 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,082 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,576 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,616 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,328 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 854 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,943 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,083 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,403 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,378 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 734 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,036 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,142 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,545 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,418 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 999 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,504 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,748 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,857 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on December 30, 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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