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Scientology’s smear campaign against Mike Rinder takes a more disturbing turn than usual

[Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Taryn Teutsch]

For years, Scientology and its operatives have attacked former spokesman Mike Rinder with one particular accusation.

In 2007 Rinder left Scientology, literally running away from the Sea Org while he was in London. His wife at the time, Cathy Bernardini, and their children, Taryn Teutsch and Benjamin Rinder, stayed behind in the church. Three years later in Florida, Rinder was waiting while his then-girlfriend Christie Collbran was at a doctor’s appointment when he was ambushed by members of his former family as well as other Scientology operatives.

Rinder happened to be on the phone with BBC journalist John Sweeney, who had the foresight to record the call. In the audio, you can hear the chaotic scene as Rinder is surrounded by angry, screaming Scientologists. As Rinder and Collbran struggled to get away, according to a police report of the incident, there was “incidental contact” which resulted in an abrasion of Bernardini’s arm.

You’d think the Scientologists would be embarrassed that their ambush was recorded, and that police essentially rolled their eyes at what happened and concluded that no crime had occurred.

Instead, ever since that day, Scientology has accused Rinder of attacking Bernardini and causing her so much harm it’s amazing she can get out of bed in the morning.


The reason that Scientology continues to push this attack on Rinder is that it is following the playbook written in the 1960s by church founder L. Ron Hubbard. And because the church is unable to answer the actual criticisms that Rinder and others raise, Scientology mindlessly keeps up its drumbeat about that single incident eight years ago, falsely accusing Rinder of domestic abuse. It has videos of Bernardini talking about it, and increasingly it’s been her daughter Taryn who has been “leading” the charge, asking that her father be fired from his job as co-star on Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.

We put that word in quote marks because although Taryn appears to be behind a campaign against her father — with a blog, videos, and a Twitter account — it’s quite clear that Taryn is simply a pawn being used by the church itself.

“Taryn is just a puppet. She doesn’t even see her Facebook page or the tweets. It is all completely orchestrated,” Rinder assures us. Indeed, one of our tipsters pointed out that each day, a stream of tweets comes from Taryn at 4 am California time.

“Four a.m. is probably when the night shift of the Office of Special Affairs Internet unit arrives to post, or when they get their final approvals on their proposed Facebook posts. All her followers are fake, and someone pointed out her Facebook page is just a repeat of the same thing over and over,” Rinder points out.

It’s also pretty standard for Scientology to use family members in attack campaigns once someone leaves the church and speaks out. In the case of director Paul Haggis, the church enlisted his sister, Kathy Slevin, to create video statements impugning his career. Tara Reile, meanwhile, was attacked by her family members when she dared to show up on the Remini show.

As we say, this campaign and others like it have been going on in one form or another for years. But our man Jeffrey Augustine has been exposing what a ludicrous turn the campaign against Rinder has taken in recent days.

Last week, Jeffrey brought attention to a startling image that Taryn Teutsch posted which showed her getting friendly with Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey.


“The photo was taken at the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles ‘Phenomenal Woman’ award luncheon on May 10, where Lacey was recognized as the 2018 Phenomenal Woman of the Year,” Jeffrey says. “Right when Lacey is deciding whether to file multiple rape charges against Scientologist actor Danny Masterson, Taryn, a Scientology Sea Org member, is gladhanding her for use in her Fair Game campaign against her father. This is wrong on so many levels.”

We agreed, and as soon as Jeffrey posted the image, we sent the LA District Attorney’s office an official records request for any emails or letters that Lacey or her office might have received or sent to Taryn Teutsch or the Church of Scientology. The office acknowledged receiving our email, but otherwise hasn’t responded to our request.

We asked Rinder what he thought when he saw the image.

“I thought, this is the Keystone Kops working overtime yet again,” Rinder answered. “Someone came up with a brilliant plan that is going to blow their fingers off like Joy Villa running for Congress. It seems like a PR coup at the outset, but as soon as the facts come out it becomes another in the long line of catastrophes that permanently destroy credibility and relationships.”

Jeffrey also pointed out that at the same event, Taryn managed to get her photo taken with former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson, whose 2016 sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox and its late chairman, Roger Ailes, was one of the key early elements of the #MeToo movement.


“Taryn used the YWCA event to help her concoct a bogus #MeToo narrative against her father in an attempt to get him fired from Leah Remini’s show,” Jeffrey says. “Taryn’s photo obviously does not imply Gretchen Carlson’s endorsement of Scientology, Taryn Teutsch, or Cathy Bernardini. And yet Taryn seems to imply that she and Gretchen Carlson are in solidarity. This tactic of an implied endorsement needs to be noted as one element of Taryn’s Fair Game campaign. Scientology has used this tactic before and will do so again.”

Jeffrey reached out to the YWCA itself and spoke to Cynthia Heard, the YWCA’s Vice President of Business Development and Communications. She sent this email in response, denying any connection to Taryn or her “group”:

Dear Jeff,

Thank you for reaching out to the YWCA Greater Los Angeles. I am responding to our recent conversation today regarding your concerns with Justice for Moms and any association they have with our agency. As indicated, our Phenomenal Woman Award Luncheon (PWAL) is an event, open to all. We have no association and or endorsement with Justice for Moms and or the Church of Scientology. Our YWCA GLA PWAL Event highlights a collective efforts of Sexual Assault and Crisis Centers, not individual assaults; we never discuss a personal case openly.

Thank you


Meanwhile, Jeffrey has also been documenting and debunking other attempts by Taryn to create some momentum for her #MeToo-style campaign against her father.

“Taryn attended the Denim Day event here in Los Angeles in late April. Denim Day is a 19-year-old movement whose goal is the prevention of sexual assaults against women. The Church of Scientology has absolutely nothing to do with Denim Day. However, in this year’s event in Los Angeles, Taryn injected herself into it,” Jeffrey says. “Taryn turned Denim Day into another dishonest Scientology attack against those who speak out about actual sexual assault. Disgusting conduct.”


“Taryn’s photos of Denim Day were staged to make it appear that the rally was all about her attack on Mike Rinder. She even got Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a photo she used on her blog. Taryn used the photo of herself with Mayor Garcetti to imply that he was supportive of her efforts.”


As Jeffrey says, Taryn featured this photo at her blog. We noticed also that the blog included a phone number in the 818 area code. We called it and left a message. We’ll let you know if Taryn gets back to us.

“Scientology’s unconscionable Fair Game smear campaign against Mike Rinder shows how Scientology engages in character assassination, lies, and seeks to do economic harm to people who speak out against it,” Jeffrey says. “Karen and I so strongly object to the Fair Game campaign in which Scientology and Taryn Teutsch are engaged, I have spent the week doing an almost real time narrative of this smear campaign at The Scientology Money Project. What I have discovered is that this sleazy attack on Mike Rinder is awash in a fake narrative and social media fraud in which Taryn Teutsch is using fake Facebook and Twitter followers. Here are the three articles I wrote should you wish to read the details on how vicious and inept this attack on Mike Rinder has become…”

Scientology Sea Org Member Taryn Teutsch Engaging in Fake News to Attack Leah Remini’s Show & Her Father Mike Rinder
Fake Stock Photo Scientologists Support Taryn Teutsch’s Fake News Attack on Mike Rinder
Scientology’s Fair Game Campaign Against Mike Rinder Collapsing Under the Weight of Scrutiny

UPDATE: An enterprising Aftermath fan, Jen Hanson Gruber, tells us that she alerted Gretchen Carlson to the way Scientology was attempting to use her in Taryn’s photos, and Carlson responded, asking how she could get the photos pulled down…


“I don’t know Gretchen Carlson personally,” Jen tells us. “She is from my home state and I’ve always admired her. I messaged her about Taryn’s publicity stunt and sent her info from Jeffrey, Taryn’s picture with her. I encouraged her to check out ‘Aftermath’ and ‘Going Clear’ and that Taryn being a Scientologist has a smear campaign against Mike Rinder, her father, to get him off Aftermath.”

She didn’t hear anything more, but Jen says she’s glad she reached out to Carlson and hopes she isn’t harassed by Scientology for sharing this with us. “I’m just a mom and Grandma who wants the disconnection and abuse to stop.”


Make your plans now!


Wow, we’re only a little more than a month out, and Chee Chalker is working hard to make sure things are going to run smoothly at this year’s HowdyCon in Chicago, June 21-23. As in past years, we’re looking forward to meeting readers of the Bunker, culminating in Saturday night’s main event.

The biggest difference this year is that our Saturday night event is separate from that evening’s dinner. Chee is setting up an inexpensive pizza dinner that you don’t need to pay for ahead of time, after which we’ll walk over to the theater where our event, hosted by Chicago Fire star Christian Stolte, will take place. Because it’s a separate event, we’re asking that you pay $10 each to get into the Saturday night event, which will help us recoup what the Bunker paid for the venue. (We have never made a penny on our HowdyCon meetups, we only try to break even.)

Please email your proprietor (tonyo94 AT gmail) in order to reserve your spot for Saturday night’s main event. Seating is limited, and we’re going to have some really interesting people on stage and they may make a few announcements that you don’t want to miss.



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,116 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,719 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 262 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 150 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,325 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,099 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,873 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,219 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,785 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,453 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,713 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,753 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,465 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 991 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,080 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,220 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,540 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,515 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 871 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,173 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,279 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,682 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,554 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,136 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,641 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,885 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,994 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on May 16, 2018 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, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), 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 | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news


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