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When Scientology keeps a mother from her child in the ER: Lori Hodgson’s story

We’re continuing our series with another book excerpt, this time a wrenching anecdote from Lori Hodgson’s recently published memoir, A Mother’s Heartbreak: How Scientology Destroyed My Family. Lori’s story is pretty familiar to our readers, but if you’re new, what you need to know before reading this chapter excerpt is that Lori’s children, Jessica and Jeremy, disconnected from her when she left Scientology. The father of the children and Lori’s former husband, Jim Leake, is still in the church. For years, Lori has struggled to get any information she can about her kids, and then one night she got a scare in a really unusual way…

It was October 18, 2011, a Tuesday evening. I was having dinner with my husband at one of our favorite places in San Jose near our house. During dinner, I glanced down at my cell phone and saw a Facebook notification that my cousin posted.

It said, “Moto Friends….please be careful! 2 Major bad accidents in 1 week is too much for me and this time hitting too close to home. Please say a prayer for my cousin in the ER right now! :(”


When I saw this, my heart sank and I felt sick to my stomach. I had a bad feeling it was my son. Then my cousin later posted: “Jeremy took the triple as he always does, but landed short, Turner said he flew, bike hit him twice. He tried to jump off bike but his feet got hooked on the bars. :(… Alan and Turner both said it was a really brutal site. [sic] Prayer’s he is ok!”

At that moment I knew it was my son who was injured and I was terrified! I called my cousin and left a message for her to call me ASAP. My husband and I immediately left the restaurant and I went home with my mind racing about what to do.

I was thinking how I could find out if he was OK and what ER he was in. I was not called when my son was being rushed to the hospital with serious injuries. What an awful way to find out your son is in the ER, by a Facebook post! Thank God my cousin posted it or I wouldn’t have known for a while. All I could think about was what ER he was in.

I remembered that when Jeremy had a previous serious motorcycle accident he was flown to Santa Clara Valley Medical Hospital so I called there first. I asked the ER if my son Jeremy Leake had been admitted and they confirmed he had been, but I could get no more information. I called my father and stepmom and asked them if they could meet me at the ER. The hospital was about fifteen minutes away.

When my parents and I arrived, I went up to the ER window first and told them I was Jeremy Leake’s mom and my son just got admitted and I asked if he was OK. The person at the desk said they could not give me any information on my son. I was shocked that they couldn’t even let me know if my son was OK! For Christ’s sake, I was his mom!

I begged them to let me see him. I’m sure my call to the ER alerted Jim Leake and Jessica that I was on my way. Despite the fact that Jeremy’s life might be in the balance, Jim, Jessica and Jeremy were abiding by the rules of Scientology’s Disconnection Policy, which was to cut off all ties with me because I had left Scientology, and if they didn’t they would be faced with the probability of getting kicked out of their organization. I never thought Scientology Disconnection could keep apart a mom and son when her son is in the ER, but because Jeremy was eighteen and no longer a minor, I was not able to see him. I was completely devastated, not knowing if he was even OK, let alone not being able to see him. It was a mother’s worst nightmare!

My parents and I were in the ER waiting room, trying to get a grasp on this situation and what to do. I noticed I had a voicemail message from my cousin that sounded extremely upset, “Lori, please don’t go to the hospital. They are freaking out on me right now. I told them I did not contact you, but they are freaking out. They said they know that you’re on the way, I guess? I don’t know why you’re not answering right now.”

My cousin then texted me that my daughter Jessica had texted her that Jim was . . . “furious” that she had made the Facebook post that enabled me to find out that my son had sustained life-threatening injuries. I went up to the ER desk again and asked to speak to a nurse. I asked her if she could please ask my son if I could see him. I was told, “Your son does not want to see you.”

“Can you at least give me his status?”

The nurse replied, “No, your son is eighteen, and by the privacy laws we’re not allowed to give out any information.”

I told my parents I had to try to find a way to see if Jeremy was OK. I decided to go around to the back of the ER and I saw a different nurse coming out. I told him that my son Jeremy was in the ER and quickly explained Scientology’s policy of disconnection and that I just wanted to know how bad my son got hurt and if he was OK. By the time I finished explaining, I was crying. The nurse could clearly see I was a mom who was very worried about her son. He told me he couldn’t give me any information, but said to write a note and he would give it to Jeremy for me.

I found a pen and some paper and quickly wrote a note to my son. “Jeremy, this is your mom. I’m here. I want to see you, and love you very much. Are you OK?”

The nurse took the note to Jeremy, then came back and told me that Jeremy said to tell me he was all right, but that he couldn’t see anyone. The nurse also said that Jeremy was alone in his room because his father and sister were talking to the doctor. Phew, good timing or I probably would not have heard back from Jeremy.

I was relieved, because I knew that my son was OK. I told my parents to go home and get some sleep and that I would let them know anything as soon as I got any information.


After a night of a minimal amount of sleep, I called my friend who was still in Scientology. I told her what had happened and that I couldn’t see my son in the ER. I told her I’d been keeping Tony Ortega, a reporter on Scientology, updated on my disconnection and that I was going to disclose to him this horrific situation that I could not see my son, proof of the cruel disconnection policy Scientology enforced. I related how Scientology was keeping me away from my son in the hospital after he had a serious accident. She said she would call Kathy True (a Scientology spokesperson) and tell her what was going on and that this was going to be really bad PR for the church if they didn’t let me see my son. She was going to tell Kathy she’d better let me see my son in the hospital today or if not it would be a huge “PR flap.” Scientology would generally do anything to prevent looking bad in the press.

I was learning to use the media, which was basically the only weapon I had in fighting for my kids.

So back to Jeremy and the accident. I picked up my mom and we headed to the hospital. I was determined to see my son; nothing was going to stand in my way. Maybe he would want to see me. I thought I’d ask the nurse again.

Once I got to the hospital, I was able to find out that Jeremy was scheduled for surgery that morning. I got to the hospital before Jim and Jessica arrived, so I was able to get lots of information about Jeremy. I’m not sure if my friend had called Kathy True or not. I found out Jeremy had fractured his femur and collarbone. They told me his surgery was scheduled in a few hours. While I was waiting, I saw Jim and Jessica arrive and head directly to the nurses’ station. They hadn’t noticed Mom and me yet.

Then Jim walked over to me and said, “You can go. Jeremy is going to be fine.”

I said, “Absolutely not, I’m staying!”

He walked away with an irritated expression. I told the nurse that I would like to talk to the doctor before the surgery if I could. The doctor called me, my ex, and my daughter over and as I walked by, Jessica said, “Hi, Mom.”

That was the first time I had seen my daughter in eight months. I listened to what the doctor said about my son’s injuries and the surgeries planned. Jeremy was in the pre–surgery area.

My father showed up and I updated him on his grandson’s condition. I shared with my dad that today was better, because so far no one was stopping me from getting information on Jeremy and that I had spoken with the doctor and that my ex and Jessica were there.

After three hours of anxiously waiting in the recovery room for my son to get out of surgery, we learned his operation went well. He had a nail in his femur with pins on each side holding the bones together. His collarbone was broken. The doctor said it should heal naturally. While I was waiting to see him, my mom and I walked around the hospital and luckily saw Jeremy go by on a gurney with Jim and Jessica by his side. They did not see us. Mom and I followed Jeremy to his room without them noticing. We waited outside by the elevator for a few minutes and then went in to see Jeremy. Jim was near his bedside and Jessica was at the end of his bed. As Jim saw me walk in, he asked our son if he wanted to see me.

Before Jeremy could finish answering, I went over to my son and said, “Hi, Jeremy. I’ve been here for you all day and I’m so glad you’re doing well. I’m going to leave now so there is not a problem for you. I hope you get well real fast and I love you so very much.”

Jeremy looked at me and said, “I love you.”

Jessica was talking to the nurse. I went up to her and hugged her and said, “I miss you and love you.” Jessica hugged me back then my mom gave Jessica a hug.

We decided to leave the hospital since I knew my staying there would stress my son because he was being controlled and forced to follow Scientology’s cruel policy. I wanted him to heal without being affected by the stress of disconnection. He was in enough pain as it was.

During the day, while I was waiting to see my son, I told Tony Ortega he could share what happened on The Village Voice, where he was the chief editor. The title of the article was called:

“Scientology’s ‘Disconnection:’ Lori Hodgson, Ex-Church Member, Kept from Scientologist Son After Serious Wreck”

Tony kept everyone following my story updated throughout the day. I was doing everything possible to get Scientology to let me see my son. I strongly feel Tony’s reporting helped me see him because if Scientology didn’t then it would have been an even bigger PR flap and I’m sure they didn’t want that.

I called early every morning so I could speak to Jeremy’s nurse before his dad arrived. I was able to get updates that way and was at ease because Jeremy was recovering well. He was released to go home after a few days. Jim took him home; Jeremy was living with him. I did not have my son’s cell number and none of the family did, either. I asked my stepmom to call Jim to see how Jeremy was and ask if she could talk to him. Jim answered and he passed the phone to our son. Jeremy seemed happy to hear from his grandma and he told her he was healing well. She said she loved him and missed him.

That was it, the only information I got on my son.

In November 2011, my best friend Beth made me two yellow ribbons, one for Jessica and one for Jeremy, to tie on my two front yard trees. The ribbons were a symbol for my children to come home. I shared the pic on my Facebook page along with the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ’round the Old Oak Tree,” by Tony Orlando. I planned to keep the ribbons on my trees till my children returned.

I also heard from my cousin that around this time Jessica and Justin broke up and Jessica got rid of her apartment and moved to Morgan Hill to live with her dad and her brother.

I would always share my messages to my children on my Facebook page just in case Jessica or Jeremy could see them somehow through a friend’s account, because Scientology made them block me and my family.

Later on in November, I got a call from Lisa Bartley, a producer for ABC7 in Los Angeles, California. She found out about me via Tony Ortega’s writing and wanted to do my disconnection story. She was very compassionate and supportive and wanted to share my story. This would be my second TV interview. She sent two cameramen to my house and we filmed in my son Jeremy’s room via Skype with Lisa.

We started the interview and when she asked me about Jeremy’s recent motorcycle accident and how I was kept from seeing him due to Scientology’s disconnection policy, I lost it. I cried for several minutes. I could barely finish the interview. I was still shook up from this recent time with my son and how I was prevented from being there with him like it was natural for a mother to do. The interview did not go well as I was too emotional, and it never got aired. Before my interview that day, my Facebook page got hacked and a few of my close friends’ Facebook accounts were hacked, too. I do not feel this was a coincidence.

I settled into the dark reality that this would be an ongoing battle. The so-called “church” of Scientology would do anything to keep my sweet children from me.

— Lori Hodgson



Hey, we’re only 10 days away from 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 Chalker 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 5,142 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,745 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 288 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 176 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,351 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,125 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,899 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,245 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,811 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,479 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,739 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,779 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,491 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,017 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,106 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,246 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,566 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,541 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 897 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,199 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,305 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,708 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,580 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,162 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,667 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,911 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,020 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on June 11, 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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