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Clear body, wiped mind: Another woman comes forward about forced abortion in Scientology

[Heather Ruggeri at 22]

In April, Heather Ruggeri celebrated ten years free of Scientology. But a decade isn’t enough to erase the things that she went through as a child growing up in Scientology and working in the Sea Org. She’s put portions of her story on the Internet before, but this is her first attempt at telling the entire tale. We knew you’d want to see it.

Every day when I ran, it felt like there was a weight in my lower abdomen.

I was 17, and the running was part of the Purification Rundown, a regimen of exercise and spending hours in a sauna that every Scientologist has to go through because it supposedly eliminates toxins in the body from drug use and things you breathe in.

I hadn’t done illegal drugs, and I really hadn’t had any serious health problems, but like everyone else I was still required to do the rundown.

At the time, I was already a veteran member of the Sea Organization — at 14, I signed a billion-year contract promising to serve Scientology lifetime after lifetime. After years of training and being moved from one post to another, I spent some time in the prestigious Commodore’s Messenger Organization before I ran into some trouble.


I had gotten married at 16, which is very common for young Sea Org members to do. We had both gotten into trouble when, during an interrogation, I admitted that we had slept together before our wedding. We were both put on hard physical labor, and I was officially out of the CMO and became a runner at Scientology’s administrative headquarters in Los Angeles.

That’s when I did the “Purif,” subjecting myself to hours in a sauna for days and days, while ingesting insane amounts of vitamins. And exercising, while feeling that weight in my belly.

After completing the regimen, we were visiting my husband’s parents in Clearwater, Florida when I decided to get an examination.

Sure enough, I was pregnant.

My in-laws were elated, but we were all feeling some doubts about what would happen when we returned to Los Angeles and had to share the news with our Sea Org superiors.

When we got back and reported what was going on, my husband and I were pulled into a room with our auditor (Scientology’s equivalent of a counselor). We were shown policies written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard about the effect that the Purification Rundown can have on a pregnancy — that it could result in deformities or other problems.

There was no question about what we were being told — because I’d done the Purif while I was pregnant, our fetus was likely damaged.

“In the case of pregnancy, some of these toxins [released by the Purification Rundown], instead of being eliminated, could be transmitted to the fetus in a flow of fluids from the mother to the unborn child,” Hubbard wrote in the issue we were shown.

When you’re being told that your unborn baby has been harmed in some way and you’re only 17, you’re basically being brainwashed into getting an abortion. My husband and I reluctantly decided that this was what we should do.

I didn’t know I could get an ultrasound to check the health of the fetus. It was only when I got to the clinic and the doctor performed an ultrasound to check the age of the fetus (it was 12 weeks) that I realized it was even possible.

By that time, I had already taken the pill needed for the abortion, and I wasn’t allowed to look at the ultrasound. It was past the point of no return, and only then did I see there was a way to check the fetus. Had I known it was safe, I would have gone through with the pregnancy as there wasn’t anything more that I wanted in the world — and so did my husband.

But we were Sea Org members, and children weren’t allowed.




My earliest Scientology recollections are from Palo Alto, California, where my mother was attending Scientology sessions. She had been introduced to it by my stepfather.

From about the age of four I remember going to the local organization with them as they attended a course or lecture. Sometimes there were other kids around and we would play outside.

Over the years, my family became more and more involved in Scientology. We moved a lot, and my half sister came along when I was 10. The biggest shock was when my stepdad went to work for Scientology’s Guardian’s Office on the east coast and took on a minimal salary. Suddenly we had no money for anything. I resented it bitterly.

We got another shock when he decided to join the Sea Org (which paid even less) and moved us into “berthing” in Los Angeles.

I took one look around and told my mom, “I hate it here.” A few hours later we were in our assigned rooms, a cramped apartment with a bathroom and an inoperational kitchen that had been converted into a bedroom for my sister and me. I went from already barely seeing my parents to seeing them only an hour each day at dinner time, known in the Sea Org then as “family time.”

My sister also hated it — and she was only two years old. (I was 12.)

Soon after our arrival, a rule was issued that televisions in berthing needed to be confiscated and gotten rid of, based on an advice from Hubbard and enforced by the CMO.

Now, I wasn’t yet a Sea Org member, and getting rid of my television was not OK with me. I decided to hide it so I could watch it at night after I had done my homework. But my stepfather took it to his office — even though I had bought it with babysitting money.

I felt raped of my rights and I felt that I was under the control of something or someone else.

Shortly after that another rule came out based on a Hubbard advice and enforced by the CMO concerning perfumes. They were no longer allowed, and only unscented soaps and shampoos would be allowed.

We transitioned over to unscented items, but I held onto a powder made from rose petals because it had sentimental value — it had been given to me by a very close friend who lived next door to my maternal grandmother in Pennsylvania. The woman had passed away, so the powder reminded me of her, and I didn’t want to lose it. It was in a very nice casing.

One day I came home and our rooms had been raided to get rid of any scented items. Among the things thrown out was my powder. Man, I was upset.

Still, I managed to create a somewhat normal existence. I was going to school, and in summers I visited my biological father’s parents in Anaheim.


Then, when I turned 14 and we had moved to similar rooms at the Hollwood Inn on Hollywood Boulevard, I became the target of Sea Org recruiters. For weeks I resisted them — I had other things going on that summer.

Then, a few weeks before school started for 9th grade, I was out with my friends when we stumbled upon the ceremony for Sea Org Day. I remember perching myself on the window sill and watching the ceremony and hearing the speech, and I decided right then and there that I was going to join the Sea Org. Something struck a chord with me about helping people. I knew I wanted to help, and this seemed like the best way.

I signed the contract and convinced my mother to give her consent. Then I began the Sea Org’s boot camp, the Estates Project Force. After completing it, I was assigned to the Flag Bureaux, which had just moved to Los Angeles from Florida. I was put on an administrative post as we ran programs to expand Scientology churches around the world.

The days were long, but I managed OK, and soon I was promoted to the CMO, and was prepared to be sent to the international management compound 90 miles east of Los Angeles, Int Base.

I was getting my chance to join the inner circle of Scientology’s most secretive hard core.

But my first impression of Int Base was that I absolutely hated it. After about a month doing manual labor there, I was told that back in Los Angeles my mother had been assigned to the Sea Org’s prison program, the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF). I wasn’t told why she was being punished, but I was told that my communications with her would be limited.

I went on with my duties, which soon involved cleaning the personal rooms and offices of David Miscavige. I was also chosen to clean rooms set aside for Hubbard, but he was in seclusion somewhere else — where, no one seemed to know.

During my time at Int Base, I missed my mom and mentioned it several times. I was told to grow up, that I was not a kid anymore (although I was 15), and that I didn’t need my mommy or daddy in the Sea Org.

This really threw me for a loop. I wanted to get the hell out of there.

Shortly thereafter, I was moved to the CMO unit in Clearwater to handle a steady stream of documents and compiling statistics. My mother was still on the RPF in Los Angeles.

Over the next two years, I dated a few different guys and then got married at 16. Then, I was busted to Los Angeles and came back to Clearwater for a visit when I found out that I was pregnant and had the abortion.

We went back to LA, but my husband began to have doubts about the Sea Org. I related his intent to leave to my superiors, and I was not allowed to communicate with him without supervision. He was put under a 24-hour watch, and he was understandably upset that I had essentially snitched on him.

He left the Sea Org, and I was put under watch and was persuaded to divorce him. I really thought I had made the right decision, but deep down I was so saddened and lost.

My mother, meanwhile, wanted nothing more than for the four of us to be a family. But my stepfather was at Int Base, my sister was in the Cadet Org, and we had very little time together as a family.


After the divorce, I was determined to rebuild my life in the Sea Org as a single person.

I had managed to get back to the Flag Bureaux as a communicator (an executive assistant), and I was introduced to a man in a senior organization, Author Services, Inc., which was L. Ron Hubbard’s literary agency.

The man — I’ll call him M.W. — proposed to me after three weeks of dating. I had only been divorced for about two months, so I was moving fast. However, I was very rebellious and didn’t care about anyone else at the time.

I was 19, and I didn’t need consent from my mom. M.W. convince me to go to Las Vegas with him and get married there. I told him I’d go as long as we could have a normal wedding later on and as long as he rented a red VW convertible. He pulled through with the car but we never had a traditional wedding.

Getting married to M.W. made it possible for him to get a Green Card. I didn’t believe that I was being taken advantage of, but in hindsight I think that was the case.

He was a supportive husband, and he tried to help me out over the next several years as I worked for one abusive boss after another in the Sea Org.

At one point, one of my commanding officers cornered me against the wall of his office near an open window, yelling at me about my work. It was a low window on the 9th floor of the 12-story Hollywood Guaranty Building on Hollywood Boulevard. He had me by the neck, hanging out the window, and he was screaming. he had also yanked the epaulettes off of my shirt, the Lt. Commander bars that indicated my rank. The person doing this was Foster Tompkins, and he was about 6-foot-2, a full foot taller than me.

It wasn’t the first time that I felt I should just die and I’d be better off. But I didn’t know how to go about it.

Shortly after that terrifying incident, toward the end of 1994, I was put under the Scientology justice system and received what is called a Committee of Evidence. This is with a group of four people who review your files, list your “crimes,” and then ask you for a plea. They then make a recommendation, and their recommenation was to send me to the RPF.

I was on the RPF, the Sea Org’s prison detail, for the next five years.

My first days on the RPF were actually a relief — I was able to sleep a good eight hours a night and eat regular food. On the RPF, you are made to run everywhere you go, you’re not allowed to speak to someone unless they speak to you first, and you have to live in dorms with other RPFers. I was allowed to have one night a week with my husband, but only after earning a gold arm band.

The arm bands were part of the RPF uniform, which is all black. You start out with a black arm band, then a white one when you progress in the program, then a gold arm band for good behavior. If you commit a transgression, you get an orange arm band as you’re put on the RPF’s RPF, and you get assigned to scrubbing out dumpsters or places where rats reside. You’re segregated from the rest of the RPF and you only talk to your peers in that group. You are made to make up the damage you caused the rest of the RPF, and then you’re accepted back into the group and start over with a black arm band again.

My first hard labor on the RPF was in electrical. I was given on-the-job training, but I ripped ligaments in my wrists and had to be re-assigned. I still suffer today from this injury.

I was reassigned to housekeeping service for the rest of my time on the RPF, which was considered a position of honor and responsibility. At the time, it meant that I was trusted with handling money to purchase hygiene items for other RPFers. I would have $600 or more on me on these trips to local stores.


Why during this time I didn’t just leave when I was on one of those trips, I don’t know. I wouldn’t have taken the money that didn’t belong to me, I’m not like that. But I didn’t run, and instead simply enjoyed the freedom I had when I was outside the base on my own.

Later, the rules changed and outside purchases were no longer allowed. We were made to purchase everything through the base canteen.

In the fall of 1998, while I was waiting to graduate from the RPF, I learned that my grandmother in Pennsylvania had broken her hip. My mother went to care for her, and I was allowed to spend two weeks with them.

I was expected to keep up the rules of the RPF and avoid TV or movies. Of course I violated those rules and watched TV (with a guilty conscience), even though I knew I’d be interrogated about it when I got back to LA.

While we were in Pennsylvania, both my mother and I considered not going back — but we only found that out later. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my husband on his own, and I had come so close to graduating from the RPF and being reunited with him.

So I went back.

Preparing for graduation from the RPF required another nine months of reviewing my program for errors and handling anything else that was needed.

Of course I admitted to watching TV while in Pennsylvania.

In December 1999, I was finally allowed to graduate (along with my program “twin,” the person you are paired with in the RPF). I went back to the Flag Bureaux, and I stayed there for the better part of six years, at the American Saint Hill Organization.

It was more long hours, more abuse, and increasingly I was not getting along with the people I worked for.

Things worsened in 2002 when my grandmother in Pennsylvania went into critical condition over a failing heart. My mother was on a project in Australia, and my stepdad and sister were at Int Base.

I went to the hospital right away to see my grandmother. She was in ICU and I was told she wasn’t going to make it. I called my stepdad, and he showed up as soon as he could. He started preparing things for my grandmother’s death, but he told me that we should not call my mom in Australia, as he didn’t want to worry her with uncertainty. He said that if she showed up, it would prolong my grandmother staying alive. He said that she had been in pain and should be allowed to pass.

He convinced me that this was the right thing to do, but I had doubts. He also said he didn’t want my sister to know until after. In hindsight, this was also wrong.

Once my stepdad and I had done what we could at the hospital, I went back to work — and I got in trouble for leaving my post.


A few hours later, I received a phone call from my stepdad, who gave me the news that my grandmother had passed. My stepdad set some of my superiors straight with regards to the situation and it allowed me to grieve for a few hours.

But they put me through hell again when I requested to join my mom in San Francisco, where she wanted to spread her mother’s ashes. I was eventually allowed to go, and it was odd to be reunited with cousins I hadn’t seen since I was a little girl. It was a nice feeling to be with family for the first time in such a long time.

Later on, my mom admitted how upset she was that she hadn’t been called in Australia and told that her mother was dying.

I continued my work as an executive in the Flag Bureaux, which included working very hard to make the San Francisco Ideal Org “Saint Hill Size” in 2004. But everything we put in place fell apart soon after we left as it was done with unrealistic situations that involved getting people to come in for extra time, which involved parishioners rearranging their lives. It was unrealistic to think these public were going to continue that after we left.

Soon after the San Francisco campaign, my husband M.W. decided to separate. We had been married for 17 years.

I came home one night to a note saying he was going to stay somewhere else for a bit. He didn’t give a reason.

Several weeks later, he agreed to meet, and told me that he had decided to get a divorce. Again, there was no reason.

Later, I learned that he was being promoted to the executive director of Author Services, and my level in the organization wasn’t high enough for the wife of such an important person.

I moved into a new building and moved on with my life.

Then, in 2007, The Basics hit.

Scientology’s leader, David Miscavige, had announced something called the Golden Age of Knowledge as a complete re-issuing of L. Ron Hubbard’s technology. And as part of it, a complete new set of books and lectures known as “The Basics” were published in a set that cost about $3,000. Every single Scientology employee was then expected to spend hours each day selling sets of The Basics to Scientology members, and under incredible pressure.

We were calling current and former members, all day, all night, and into the morning. We were calling overseas public during the morning hours, and the east coast in the evening.

I was not having much luck selling sets of books, but my calls tended to turn into therapy sessions. Most of the people I called were struggling with the Golden Age of Knowledge, they admitted to me.

During this time, I was approached about a promotion to Int Base. I was told that somehow, with my regular duties and hours selling books, that I was also supposeed to carve out some time to get enough sleep so that I could be interrogated for the new job.

I made it clear that I wasn’t interested in going back to Int Base, which is why I was failing the interrogation. But they assumed there was something else behind it.

Then, in January 2008, I learned that my mother had walked away from her job.

With the help of my sister, we located her in the San Francisco area, where she was staying with a cousin.

She wouldn’t answer our phone calls. At this point, I was taken off of making contact with her and was told to go back to my duties.

But I was struggling and it was noticeable. I was pulled into ethics.

I was told to disconnect from my mother. I was not OK with that. I went through several days of this, and was put on manual labor, cleaning elevator pits in my uniform. I was also subject to berating by some of my co-workers, who had to show me how bad I was doing. One of them poured ice water down my back as a punishment.

The effort to humiliate me was being led by a teenager in the CMO.

Still, they were trying to get me qualified to go to Int Base, and they told me I couldn’t date a guy I was interested in because he wasn’t qualified to go there.

I’d had enough.

On Thursday morning, April 3, 2008, I woke up late after a long night and got dressed like I was going to work. I got onto the Dash public commuter bus and, not knowing where I was going, headed to the Metro station, watching my back the entire time.

From there I called my grandparents who lived in Corona, about 70 miles away, and got on a metro train with eight dollars to my name.

I never looked back.

Today, I’m celebrating my eighth wedding anniversary to a new husband, and we have a beautiful daughter who is about to turn seven years old. She is my mother’s one and only granddaughter and is her pride and joy.

I have obtained an insurance license and I’ve been working in the industry the last five years. I’m now an agency manager for an independent Farmers agent.

My life, however, is still a work in progress after my escape from Scientology.

— Heather Ruggeri


Underground Bunker TV

The programming just keeps coming at Underground Bunker TV. We’ve posted short videos about ABCMouse, Bob Duggan, Scientology attorney Gary Soter, David Miscavige’s position in the church,what Scientology says about Jesus and Christianity, Scientology’s obsession with masturbation, the Ideal Orgs, Narconon deaths, the vile secret buried in Dianetics, and the continuation of Scientology spying. Today we have another short spot that brings up something we’ve covered here before. We hope these vids will draw people back here to the Bunker to seek more information. So please help us get them out into the world!



Scientology’s celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs’ — now with comments!

[Stanley Clarke and the Budapest Ideal Org]

We’re building landing pages about two of David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, his celebrities and his ‘Ideal Orgs.’ We’re posting pages each day, and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them, in order to build a record and maintain a watch as Scientology continues its inexorable decline — and yes, we finally have comments working on these new pages! Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments about all of your favorite celebrites and failing Ideal Orgs

Previously, we posted pages for celebrities Anne Archer, Beck Hansen, Catherine Bell, Chick Corea, Elisabeth Moss, Erika Christensen, Ethan Suplee, Giovanni Ribisi, Greta Van Susteren, Jenna Elfman, John Travolta, Juliette Lewis, Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley, Laura Prepon, Marisol Nichols, Michael Peña, Nancy Cartwright, Tom Cruise, and Danny Masterson. And for the Ideal Orgs of Portland, Oregon; Sydney, Australia; San Diego, California; Denver, Colorado; Nashville, Tennessee; Perth, Australia; Tokyo, Japan; Sacramento, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Silicon Valley, California; Rome, Italy; Orlando, Florida; Moscow, Russia; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Seattle, Washington; Dallas, Texas; Melbourne, Australia; San Fernando Valley, California; Pasadena, California; and Bogotá, Colombia.

Today it’s Stanley Clarke and Budapest, Hungary!




Please join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,255 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,858 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 401 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 289 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,464 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,238 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,012 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,358 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,924 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,592 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,852 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,892 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,604 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,130 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,219 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,359 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,679 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,535 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,654 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,010 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,312 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,418 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,821 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,692 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,275 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,780 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,024 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,133 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on October 2, 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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