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Scientology’s 2017: Another year is in the books at the Underground Bunker!

 
Just a few hours remain in this wild year of 2017, and we have a lot to get through today before we welcome in 2018 tonight with the help of Observer and our HowdyCon poster for 2018.

Let’s quickly get through the highlights of November and December to wrap up our annual Scientology year-in-review. We have to say, the Bunker really finished off the year strong in these last two months, so there’s a lot to remember.

We started off November by reporting that major Scientology donors Matt and Kathy Feshbach got their asses handed to them by a bankruptcy judge who did not appreciate these two richies pleading poverty while they were spending money like Croesus on the finer things in life. In fact, their behavior was downright Scientological.

Later that day, we wondered why Netflix was so quick to fire actor Kevin Spacey over 30-year-old allegations of sexual misbehavior, but nothing was being done about Danny Masterson, even months after Netflix knew that The Ranch actor was being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department for multiple violent rapes. Why the double standard, we wondered. The next morning, we had another Masterson-related scoop. We made public a threatening letter that Danny’s attorney Marty Singer sent the husband of one of Masterson’s accusers after she posted some tweets about the actor. And then, on November 3, another bombshell: We broke the news that Leah Remini had filmed an episode of Scientology and the Aftermath that featured three of Masterson’s accusers, but the District Attorney’s office had asked her not to air it while the investigation was going on, and she complied. Will Leah get a chance to air the episode if she gets a third season? We don’t know, but we’re looking forward to finding out.

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On November 5, Rod Keller got us some fascinating new intel out of Scientology’s flagship drug rehab facility in Oklahoma, Narconon Arrowhead, when he got a chance to interview a woman who had just left her job there.

Two nights later, Scientology and the Aftermath ended its regular run of episodes from season two with the stunning story of Ramina Nunnelee, who decided to leave Scientology and reunite with her daughter after watching Leah’s show.

We had earlier learned about the remarkable story of Rebecca McKee McCaffrey, who had reunited with her high school sweetheart, some 40 years after they’d been pushed apart by Scientology. And now she had more to tell us about what it was like to be a teenager in Scientology in the 1970s, including her date with Wilt Chamberlain, set up by the church.

Yashar Ali at the Huffington Post revealed that a longtime Trump aide told Leah Remini that the president is interested in taking away Scientology’s tax-exempt status. But Yashar seemed unclear on how the president could make that happen. So we provided a road map — if Trump is serious, he could have his Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, start an IRS investigation.

After one of our stories mentioned the sad current state of Int Base, John Brousseau told us he was feeling melancholy about it. The man who was formerly David Miscavige’s brother-in-law told us he can see that Scientology is dying, and he reflected on what that meant for the base.

Quailynn McDaniel and Fred Oxaal joined your proprietor on a special episode of ‘Aftermath’ that looked at Scientology’s sneaky front groups. Quailynn had fascinating things to say about her “Volunteer Minister” experiences, and Fred literally set up The Way to Happiness Foundation. And two days later the final ‘Aftermath’ special episode of the second season featured Russell Miller and Hana Whitfield as they took apart the myths of L. Ron Hubbard.

Leah’s series may have been ending its season, but we were really surprised when her husband, Angelo Pagan, decided to come forward and help us tell the sad story of Brad Bufanda, a 30-year-old actor who had been telling his friends that Scientology had saved his life — up to just a few days before he chose to end it.

It was also in November that we said a sad goodbye to Sinar Parman, 63, who had cooked for L. Ron Hubbard and David Miscavige, and who was loved by many former Scientologists. We surely do miss this gentle man who was so helpful with information about Scientology’s inner workings.

With the death of Charles Manson, we knew a lot of people would be looking for information about the former cult leader’s connection to Scientology, so we put together what was said about it in a new biography of Manson by Jeff Guinn.

On November 26, we revealed the name of the auditor, Angie LaClaire, who interrogated Danny Masterson and one of his accusers but didn’t notify the LAPD about the rape allegations. We also noted that the auditor’s husband, Greg LaClaire, is the person who hands the LAPD a big check at the end of each year.

We’re grateful to former Sea Org executive Sunny Pereira for helping us decode a 1952 L. Ron Hubbard lecture that contained very disturbing things about the sexual abuse and killing of young boys. A few days later, Sunny and Robyn Capella helped us understand how L. Ron Hubbard’s ideas about past lives referred to in the lecture created an environment that condones child abuse.

At the end of November another stunning court document showed up. It contained powerful testimony from Kim Poff, who accused the state of Oklahoma of suppressing the dangerous conditions at the Narconon Arrowhead drug rehab because the state was too afraid to take on the Church of Scientology.

Early in December, we took one for the team and actually read one of L. Ron Hubbard’s turgid ‘Mission Earth’ novels in order to bring you its truly sick take on sex and young boys.

The next day, historian Chris Owen was back with a two-part series about an attempt by the Greek government to crack down on Scientology in the 1990s, and why it ultimately failed.

After more reporting by Yashar Ali at Huffington Post and a growing public outrage, Netflix finally made a decision and will be writing Danny Masterson’s character out of The Ranch. But what, we wondered, is taking the District Attorney so long to make a decision on charges?

We then asked the question, did Scientology lose its biggest donor of all time? We presented evidence which suggested that Bob Duggan has flown the coop. (But not until he’d set aside a huge amount of money to keep Scientology supplied with revenue into perpetuity.)

Thanks to the industrious R.M. Seibert, we got our hands on the FBI file of Clearwater mayor Gabe Cazares. Here for the first time were new details on the hit-and-run plot Scientology tried to use to destroy his career in 1976, and some indication as to why no one ever went to prison for it.

With the help of a couple of Bunker researchers, we not only tracked down Michael Meisner, Scientology’s “Snow White” operative who became a witness for the FBI and helped put Mary Sue Hubbard in prison, but we looked into the almost unbelievable story that Meisner eventually went on to be the top executive running a nuclear power plant in Maine.

And just in time for the holidays, we finished up our reporting this year with a heartwarming tale of love — how Chris and Nancy Tringali defied Scientology and escaped and are still together.

Wow, that was some two months!

 
MOST-READ STORIES OF NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
1. Hey, Netflix, why does Scientology actor Danny Masterson still have a job?
2. EXCLUSIVE: Scientology interrogated Danny Masterson and accuser, didn’t notify LAPD

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3. Read the threatening letter Danny Masterson’s attorney Marty Singer sent a victim’s husband
4. EXCLUSIVE: DA’s office asked Leah Remini not to air episode about Danny Masterson
5. Charles Manson and Scientology: What the church doesn’t want you to know

 
A LOOK BACK AT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016: Scientologist Vivian Kubrick’s plan to raise money for Shelley Duvall falls apart. David Miscavige’s claim that L. Ron Hubbard brought surfing to California is debunked. Scientology tries to derail the premiere of Leah Remini’s new series with a scummy letter. And Leah’s first “special” episode features Paulette Cooper.

A LOOK BACK AT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015: Leah Remini’s memoir, Troublemaker, hit bookstores. The Texas Third Court of Appeals handed Monique Rathbun a huge victory that seemed to pave the way for a world of hurt for Scientology. We began a day-by-day look at the final days of Lisa McPherson, 20 years after her tragic death. Tabatha Fauteux became Narconon’s newest victim. Legoland funded a Scientology front group on behalf of Jenna Elfman. And one of our biggest stories of the year, felony charges for Scientologists who had used students from primarily minority high schools in a suburb of LA to scam state insurance money.

A LOOK BACK AT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014: Leaked plans show that a new $37 million Scientology facility in Australia will serve only 87 people, on average, at any one time. Some great nuggets about L. Ron Hubbard turned up in Robert Heinlein’s letters collection. We learned how Scientology strains to erase Hubbard’s second wife, Sara Northrup, from the historical record, while Hubbard’s first wife, Polly, filed an affidavit that Hubbard was a deadbeat dad. We went long with the surprising saga of Richie Acunto’s rise and fall. And Marty Rathbun gets ambushed again, this time with Louis Theroux.

A LOOK BACK AT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013: Mike Rinder and Mike Bennitt in a helicopter over the Super Power party, our exclusive interview with Jacqueline Olivier, the principal at Will and Jada’s Scientology school, and we marked the actual 60th anniversary of the first ‘Church of Scientology.’

 
Five of our favorites from the most-upvoted comments of November/December 2017

November 7: Princess Poopypants
Richard and Ramina Nunnelee could be viewed as a pair of die-hard bitter enders. A pair that would have stayed through thick and thin. Never in a million years would I ever think they would not only leave Scn, but speak out about it. I’m just saying, it is huge. There have not been very many parents that chose their children (mom? where are you? You have a couple of cute grandchildren here with me, and a few more around too….). I think I can count on both hands the ones that I know that did that. It’s not many. It’s a difficult process, I think, for the parent to come to terms with all of it. The mind control, the manipulation, the coercion. It is hard to accept and process and they just don’t even bother. Someday I may share the first time I met Chantal (around 35 years ago). She was then, and always will be, an angel. What a sweet and caring girl she is. All my love to the entire family.

November 11: Jefferson Hawkins
“Everyone’s incompetent” was a constant refrain at the Int Base, and it usually meant that Miscavige was rejecting anything and everything for usually arbitrary reasons, and therefore nothing ever got done. I think Jeffrey hit the nail on the head – Miscavige doesn’t want [Scientology Media Productions] to actually produce anything. What would they produce? News programs? What, and put a talking head out there who would upstage Dave? No way. Biopics about Hubbard? Been done to death. There’s only so much they can lie about and distort. Dramas about Scientology? No one there competent to write such a thing. Infomercials? Miscavige hates them – “waste of money.” Videos explaining Scientology “basics”? Been done and done and done. Pretty much anything you think of requires actors or Scientologists to get out there and front for the cult, and Dave is petrified that anyone he features will blow or defect. Or upstage him. The studio was just a way to milk the whales after all. Produce anything? Nah. Best to keep rejecting anything they propose and condemn them all for being incompetent.

November 17: Missionary Kid
For some reason, I got hooked on the Veronica Mars series in reruns and, in spite of the almost soap opera characteristic of the show, I became a fan. I do remember Jason Dhoring, and was disappointed to find out that he was a $cientologist. I remember Francis Capra well, but I don’t recall Brad Bufanda as well, but I’m sad to hear of his recent demise. R.I.P. There are too many deaths associated with $cientology. On another note, Today is my 5th Bunkerversary. It has now been 5 years since I stumbled onto this website. I was actually looking for more on Mark Bunker, but somehow, Google brought me here, and it took a little while to understand that the Bunker and Mark Bunker were something different. I didn’t even realize that the Bunker was only a few months old. I had no knowledge of Tony’s editorship of the Village Voice and his articles there, or of the Rodeo or any of the other blogs devoted to criticism of $cientology. Am I an addict? I guess I am. After over 46K comments, I must be, but I do give the excuse that a lot of those were letting people know that their comments made it to some of the different lists I collected. Because of the Bunker, I’ve met hundreds of fantastic, intelligent, caring, warm, funny, and generous people, both online and in person. I have to confess that I am partially “face blind”, and I have a hard time remembering faces, and sometimes when I meet some of you again, I have a hard time placing you. Please forgive me, but all of you have been pleasant about it… I’m looking forward to the time when the Bunker is no longer necessary, because $cientology has finally collapsed, and I’m glad for the time I’ve spent here. Now, I’m going back to bed. I’ll be back in a couple of hours.

December 4: Michael Leonard Tilse
I read most of the Mission Earth series back in the day. My take? That this awful sexually obsessed prose of hubbard was the exact mirror of Hubbard’s mind. It is the true phantasmagorical unremittingly deviant sexual scenarios that filled his mind, always before hidden and kept from his followers. It is the most genuine expression of hubbard. Compared to the effortless projectile vomit composition of mission earth, his specifically scientological writings seem constipated. I really had a hard time reconciling mission earth with the persona of hubbard as scientology’s founder. I passed it off by taking it as the ‘satire’ that he insisted it was. Now I see it was the full expression of his mental illness.

December 15: Andrea ‘i-Betty’ Garner
“…the incident with Louis and myself is being used as a reason for Dave Miscavige not to come back to the Int Base.” David Miscavige is such a baby! By a show of hands, who here is afraid of Mr. Mild-mannered, Louis Theroux and Genial Guy, Marc Headley? Anyone? Waaaaah!

 
The most-read stories of 2017

Here they are, the 25 most-read Underground Bunker stories of the year…

1. This new image of David Miscavige makes years of Scientology Watching all worth it (Oct 6)

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2. Hey, Netflix, why does Scientology actor Danny Masterson still have a job? (Nov 1)
3. DOX: L. Ron Hubbard’s son called him a junkie and sex pervert in FBI’s Scientology files (Aug 30)
4. Never before seen: Video of a woman moments after achieving superhuman Scientology powers (Oct 5)
5. Scientology slut-shames Mimi Faust after destroying her family because … it’s a church! (Oct 18)
6. LAPD probing Scientology and Danny Masterson for multiple rapes, cover-up (Mar 3)
7. HURRICANE LEAH: ‘The defenses are crumbling. Scientology in Los Angeles is dying’ (Sep 11)
8. EXCLUSIVE: Scientology interrogated Danny Masterson and accuser, didn’t notify LAPD (Nov 26)
9. Read the threatening letter Danny Masterson’s attorney Marty Singer sent a victim’s husband (Nov 2)
10. Leah Remini’s second season of ‘Scientology and the Aftermath’ — what do you want to see in it? (Mar 15)
11. Here’s how Scientology tried to keep you from seeing tonight’s episode of ‘Leah Remini’ (Oct 10)
12. How to get yourself removed from Scientology’s legendary mailing list: A case study (May 5)
13. EXCLUSIVE: DA’s office asked Leah Remini not to air episode about Danny Masterson (Nov 3)
14. Moss wins Emmy for portraying totalitarian cult victim and doesn’t care what you think about it (Sep 18)
15. She’s back! Leah Remini builds a case for Scientology aggression in tonight’s A&E special (May 29)
16. Tonight on ‘Leah Remini’: Once again, Scientology’s a horror show for the mentally ill (Jan 10)
17. Scientology’s ultimate prize: For the first time online, the current ‘OT 8’ materials laid bare (Sep 6)
18. Scientology leader David Miscavige launches new personal attacks at Leah Remini (Apr 3)
19. Coming to grips with Scientology’s most vile secret, which was hiding in plain sight (Oct 14)
20. Director Paul Haggis pens an open letter to Marty Rathbun after Scientology’s latest smear (Sep 23)
21. As Leah Remini’s second season hammers away, Scientology is losing its mind (Aug 31)
22. REPORT: David Miscavige has not been to Scientology’s secretive ‘Int Base’ in four years (Jun 27)
23. Tara and Nathan — subjects of last night’s ‘Leah Remini’ — respond to Scientology’s smears (Oct 11)
24. Danny Masterson: Victim C gets support from a veteran actress, but will LAPD answer the call? (Mar 8)
25. Celebrity battle lines: Michael Peña’s wife asks Scientologists to ‘Stand with Daniel Masterson’ (Aug 17)

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Best Shoops 2017

We asked the Bunker’s resident shoop expert, Observer, to choose some of her favorites that showed up in our comments section this year.

From “Mark”…

 

 
Two from Phil Jones…

 

 
And two from Douglas D. Douglas…

 

 
BEST OF THE BUNKER, 2017

We’re grateful that some of our stories got a huge amount of readership this year. But traffic isn’t the only way to measure what goes on here. Like last year, we put together a list of our personal choices for most significant pieces we did in 2017. Some of them were scoops, others were investigative features, and some of them we just really enjoyed writing. (We’ll be adding this list to our favorites of all time.) So here goes.

 

 
20. ‘God of Pop’ Kuba Ka on meeting Scientology’s David Miscavige: ‘Like an emperor or the Pope’

We could hardly believe our luck when Scientology celebrity Kuba Ka, the “God of Pop,” announced in March 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.

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19. Before Scientology’s Xenu was a genocidal galactic overlord, he was a … mountain?

In April we had a fun little treat that had confounded our experts — a tipster pointed out to us that L. Ron Hubbard referred to a “Mount Xenu” in an obscure lecture he recorded in 1958, some ten years before Hubbard would use the name “Xenu” in his infamous “OT III” handwritten notes. None of our experts had noticed it before, but Jon Atack pointed out that it was indeed an indication that Hubbard was simply dreaming up nonsense from a limited storehouse of ideas and notions.

 

 
18. Lawrence Wright goes to Nazareth: how Reza Aslan drove us into the arms of L. Ron Hubbard

Delayed a year by the presidential election, Reza Aslan’s “Believer” CNN series finally aired in 2017, 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.”

 

 
17. Yes, L. Ron Hubbard wrote even more about children and sex, and we need to talk about it

In the mid 1980s, while he was in total seclusion hiding not only from process servers and government investigators but also from his own family and the rest of his Scientology movement, L. Ron Hubbard spent his time writing a million-word long science fiction story that the church put out as a ten-volume series. We chose one chapter from the ninth volume of the “Mission Earth” series, Villainy Victorious, to illustrate its truly sick take on sex and young boys. And we asked our readers to decide — what did it mean that near the end of his life, Hubbard was imagining this stuff?

 

 
16. Never before seen: A woman moments after achieving superhuman Scientology powers

In October, we provided an excerpt from a 1989 home video made aboard Scientology’s private cruise ship, the Freewinds. This rare footage featured the remarkable OT 8 graduation speech of a woman named Margie Zacks, 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.

 

 
15. Is Scientology’s notorious prison detail — the ‘RPF’ — a thing of the past?

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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 told 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.

 

 
14. DOX: The full FBI file from its 2009-2010 human trafficking investigation of Scientology

In 2011, Lawrence Wright broke the news in his New Yorker story about Paul Haggis that the FBI had investigated the Church of Scientology for human trafficking of its Sea Org workers. The church denied it. We never doubted for a moment that it was true because we spoke with numerous former Sea Org officials who had taken part in the investigation. But it was nice, finally, to get the evidence itself — in August, for the first time, we made the entire FBI file public, proving that indeed, the law enforcement agency gathered reams of evidence about the mistreatment of Scientologists at its secretive bases in California and Florida.

 

 
13. When a Scientology ‘body-router’ turns out to be the father you haven’t seen in 7 years

In May, we had a sad and surprising story. Earlier, we had posted some photos taken by a contributor outside the new Valley Org in Los Angeles which showed Scientology workers parking cars. One of them, however, turned out to be Irving Sorrentini, the father who had disconnected from his daughter, Jamie Sorrentini Lugli, someone well known to Bunker readers. She hadn’t seen her father in seven years, since he “disconnected” from her because she had left the church. Seeing her father was a punch to the gut. “Honestly, my heart is breaking. I feel like there’s no hope now. His eyes look so sad in that picture. That’s not the guy he was,” she told us.

 

 
12. Days before jumping to his death, actor Brad Bufanda credited Scientology with saving his life

Thanks to Angelo Pagan coming forward and giving us an interview, we got insights into the life of Brad Bufanda that the rest of the media overlooked. In the months before the Veronica Mars actor killed himself, he was telling friends of his commitment to Scientology, but he was also under heavy pressure because he refused church instructions to quit a movie because Pagan was also in it. His death shocked people who knew him well and who told us he had everything to live for.

 

 
11. Memories of a Scientology warrior: Marty Rathbun’s curious career as church rebel

In March, 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?

 

 

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10. ‘Leah Remini’ show prompting more ‘ranch kids’ to come forward with agonizing family drama

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 — like Clarissa Adams, who talked to us 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” But Clarissa 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.”

 

 
9. Scientology’s ultimate prize: For the first time online, the current ‘OT 8’ materials laid bare

Inspired by what Leah Remini had put on the air about the secrets of Scientology OT 8, in September 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.

 

 
8. Coming to grips with Scientology’s most vile secret, which was hiding in plain sight

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 an adult man’s kiss, “even a passionate one” — and 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? In that same book, Dianetics, Hubbard said this about the experience of a fetus in the womb: “Papa becomes passionate and baby has the sensation of being put into a running washing machine.” We’re pretty sure he wasn’t talking about knitting.

 

 
7. For the first time: The FBI file of Gabe Cazares, the Clearwater mayor targeted by Scientology

Thanks to the industrious R.M. Seibert, we got our hands on the FBI file of former Clearwater mayor and Congressional candidate Gabe Cazares. Here for the first time were new details on the hit-and-run plot Scientology tried to use to destroy his career in 1976, as well as some insight into why no one ever went to prison for it. This is the kind of material that current Clearwater residents and their leaders really ought to make themselves very familiar with.

 

 
6. Families of rescued patients are sharply divided on Scientologist-run Tennessee hellhole

In May we posted a story that has proved to be one we may have sent out as much as any other this year as we’ve tried to set the record straight on what was easily the most confusing reporting done on Scientology in a long, long time. It involved a facility in Tennessee that we’ve been watching for years, run by a Scientologist named Marc Vallieres, and which had a troubling past as a place where the church, we believed, sent members who had gone “Type III” — were in mental distress — for a medieval treatment known as the “Introspection Rundown.” Now, in 2017, that facility was shut down when sheriff’s deputies discovered a couple of patients being held there in cabins that were padlocked from the outside. But the press handling of the story was terribly mangled, in part because of a confusing statement put out by the local sheriff, and cries of “fake news” were heard across the land. The Underground Bunker was the only news organization that spoke to the families of the two victims and got the full story of what actually happened.

 

 
5. How Humira, the world’s best selling drug, is helping to finance Scientology into the future

In July we revealed that Jeffrey Augustine had found a document which showed that in the last week of 2015, Bob and Trish Duggan, the world’s richest Scientologists, 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.) 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 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.

 

 
4. Scientology’s disgusting secret: Young teens used to interrogate adults about their sex lives

In January we posted our first big feature of the year, about Serge Gil, who appeared on ABC’s 20/20. But that television program really sort of missed the point. ABC’s Dan Harris asked Serge about sexual questions he was asked, but all Scientologists go through that. What made Serge’s story unique isn’t the questions he was asked, but what questions he was forced to ask others. We went into depth about Serge who, as a 14-year-old auditor, was tasked with interrogating older men about their sexual habits. Sometimes, he told us, that meant having to hear about the fantasies an older man was having about him. And always Serge would be forced to push for more and more detail. Talking to other former church members, we learned that this is actually a pretty common thing in Scientology, and is most likely still happening.

 

 
3. When love triumphs over Scientology: A fairy tale of New York for the holidays

After we had brought up the subject of how escaping Scientology Sea Org workers are often talked into coming back to “route out” properly in an Orwellian process that is hard to understand from the outside, we heard from a man named Chris Tringali who wanted us to know about what he and his wife Nancy had been through. The more we questioned him about his situation, the more stunned we were by what this couple had been through and had stayed together through all of it. We were pleased to present their saga as a heartwarming tale of love for the holidays.

 

 
2. Scientology’s Celebrity Whisperer: An inside account of life in the fame-obsessed church

In February we uncorked one of our longest features of the year, our look at the “celebrity whisperer,” Quailynn McDaniel, who, with her husband Paul, was trusted for years by Scientology to pamper and cater to its famous celebrities, in particular the Elfmans, Jenna and Bodhi. But when the church asked Quailynn, while she was isolated on the Freewinds, to steal from her husband’s 401K in order to donate more, she walked away from the church and all of its perks. It was especially interesting to publish the harsh disconnection letter that Bodhi sent Paul simply because he’d “liked” something Leah Remini had posted on Facebook. What a saga!

 

 
1. LAPD probing Scientology and Danny Masterson for multiple rapes, cover-up

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 at the end of the year we were still waiting to see if charges were going to be filed.

Happy New Year, Scientology watchers.

 
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Dee Findlay completes her Scientology bucket list

Says Dee: “I had a bucket list and going in front of the Clearwater Commission to apologize to the citizens was on top of the list… and done! Next… to rid myself of 10K’s worth of Hubbard’s chronological work that I purchased in late 2010, when I was vulnerable and went back to the cult.. However, going back, like a toe left in, and with what I experienced, got me completely out! Happened when I looked on the internet, thanks to Debbie Cook, where I found Tony O, the truth and the nicest, best people ever. Well, I really didn’t know what to do with this stuff. I thought of selling, could use the money, or better, not to contribute to anyone reading this destructive, insane crap, altho did give a few away. Most all had never been unwrapped. I’m happy to share with you the last thing on my bucket list, which is shown in the pictures below. Thanks to a wonderful loving Maxwell family, was able to help me do this. What a relief it is to start out the new year without a single satantology course, congress, book or material, cluttering up my environment. This statement is worth more than money.”

 

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,980 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 126 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,189 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,963 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,737 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,083 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,577 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,617 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,329 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 855 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,944 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,084 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,404 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,379 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 735 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,037 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,143 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,546 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,419 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,000 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,505 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,749 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,858 days.

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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on December 31, 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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