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The Valerie Haney interview: Scientology smear tactics, and where Shelly Miscavige is

Valerie Haney provided a stunning opening to Leah Remini’s third season in its premiere episode Tuesday night. After working in Scientology’s Sea Org for 22 years, she had escaped the church’s international management compound, Int Base east of Los Angeles, by hiding out in the trunk of an actor’s car as he drove back to LA.

Her escape was especially problematic for Scientology not only because it was so recent and because Valerie could provide a new layer of confirmation of what others had said about the base, but also because of her position, working so closely with church leader David Miscavige and his wife, Shelly, who disappeared from Int Base in 2005.

Talking to Valerie last night by telephone, we told her that our readers were left with a lot of questions after Tuesday night’s show, which recounted her daring escape as well as the harassment she’s been going through since the church discovered that she was working with Leah on the program.

Our first question was, is she doing all right in the face of that harassment?


She was fine, she said, and added that nothing the church could do would slow her down. It didn’t surprise her, for example, that the church was using her brother, Jeff Haney, to try and smear her in a video that was being spread around on social media.

Scientology had actually been using her brother to try to get to her for months, she says.

“We grew up in Clearwater. We were there together from when I was 6 to 11 or 12. Jeff was with me in the Cadet Org at Flag. We were really great — we never fought. He was my older brother and he protected me.” (Jeff today is 42, Valerie 39.)

“If I was mad about something, he would tell me to shut up so I wouldn’t get in trouble. ‘Don’t say you miss mom and dad,’ he would tell me. We were close. But then he left for Los Angeles to join the Sea Org. I didn’t hear from him for about four years, until I joined the Sea Org at 15.”

They had both joined Scientology’s inner elite, with Jeff in Los Angeles and Valerie in Florida, both working extremely long hours. But then her brother left the Sea Org to pursue a relationship with a young woman who died just weeks later in an auto collision. “He told me all about that,” she says. But then, for years he didn’t seek her out while she was working around the clock in the Sea Org.

“We would go years without speaking. He wasn’t at my wedding, when I was 18. I think I saw him a total of—while I was in the Sea Org and he was out—maybe four times in a 22-year span,” she says. “A Sea Org member doesn’t really have a family. We didn’t send each other Christmas or birthday cards. It was very normal to us.”

In 2015, Valerie made a trip to Clearwater to see her mother, and she also saw Jeff. “I told him Int Base was fucked, and that I hated it. I can’t live like this anymore, I said. And he was like, I get it, it’s fucked. Whatever you do I’ll support you.”

In November 2016, Valerie made her incredible escape in the trunk of a car, and then she made her way to her father’s house in Oregon.

“The church called Jeff, and he called me and said ‘You can’t do this. You can’t blow. You need to route out properly.’ Then my dad said I have to do the right thing. And so I went to route out—because my dad had said it, not my brother.”

In Scientology, when someone “blows” or escapes from their posting, they are tracked down and told they need to return and “route out” under a formal set of procedures. For many, the routing out procedure is really just a way for the church to get them back in.

“They wanted me to go back to Int Base, but I told them there was no way I was stepping foot on that psychotic property again,” Valerie says. She did her routing out in Los Angeles.

When she got out of the Sea Org, she heard from her mother, who had moved from Clearwater to Tennessee.

“‘I’m so glad you’re OK,’ she told me. She said she had read about ‘The Hole’ and had seen every episode of Leah’s show.”

But in Tennessee her mother was living next door to Jeff. “He was in Flag getting his marching orders. I warned my mom about what might happen when he got back.”


Valerie noticed that it was getting more difficult to get her mother on the phone.

“Let me fly you out here for a weekend, I told her.” Valerie bought her mother a flight and sent her the ticket.

“Sure, she said. Then about 20 minutes later, she called again, saying, actually I’m here with Jeff and it’s important for my family and I’m not going to be seeing you.”

Valerie’s mother disconnected? After saying she’d seen every episode of Leah’s show?

“A month ago. It’s insane to me still,” Valerie says.

“It’s so insane. I was buying plane tickets for my mother to come see me, and now I can’t see her. That’s not me splitting up the family.”

But in Scientology’s version, voiced by Jeff Haney in the new video, Valerie is ripping apart the family because of her choice to work for Remini. Jeff and his wife Nancy also say they were made to feel like outcasts because at a family Christmas gathering last year Valerie and her two younger half-sisters judged them because of their appearance, apparently a reference to their weight.


[Scientology’s attack video seems weirdly random]

Valerie denies that account, saying that she was very welcoming to her brother and sister-in-law, but if there was awkwardness, it was because her father disapproved that Jeff had been unemployed so long.

We told Valerie that the attack seemed so random and bizarre — Valerie Haney is the most explosive defection in years, and she had intimate knowledge about David Miscavige and about Shelly Miscavige, why was it important how her brother and sister-in-law felt about a Christmas visit?

It was a sign that Miscavige really has little to throw at her after she witnessed things he’d really rather the public not hear about.

On the show Tuesday night, Valerie explained that she had to make a dramatic escape from the base because every time she made a request to leave, it was turned down, in part because she had worked so closely with David Miscavige.


As a steward to Shelly and Dave, she had been with them almost constantly, and in their private quarters where she was usually the only other person around. The implication of Tuesday’s show was that she simply knew too many embarrassing private details about Dave to ever leave the base.

So we asked her, what is it, exactly, that Dave doesn’t want us to know?

“That he drank. Every night. It kind of got worse as the Hole was forming in 2004. And I knew how much he drank. I gave him his meals, I made his bed. I woke him up in the morning. I knew everything about their private lives.

“Like that they maybe had sex once a year, if that. I worked for them for three years, and I recognized twice that they had had sex. And Shelly was just fucked up about it. I was a very sexual person and I would have sex with my husband every night and then tell her — I mean, we were girlfriends,” Valerie says. And Shelly shared with her the frustrations of her marriage.

“Shelly hated it, because he was not affectionate to her. Even in closed quarters he wasn’t showing her affection. I’m in the living room and I’m the only one standing there with them, and it’s Christmas, and there’s no warm embrace, there’s no kiss.

“She had a separate room. They had a bedroom, but she had a dressing room where she could unwind and smoke. and she would talk with me, about Dave. Sometimes for hours. She was jealous of Laurisse [Laurisse Henley-Smith, Miscavige’s ‘personal communicator,’ also known as “Lou”]. She would ask me, ‘Are they fucking? Can you find out?’ But they weren’t. It would be impossible for me not to know.”

“The other thing Dave doesn’t want you to know: His extravagance and his finances. And his schedule — how much differently he spent his day than everyone around him,” Valerie says.

“Let me tell you about his normal day. He would wake up at 11 am. He would go into his room that was an office and do ‘traffic.’ That was all of the submissions that had come in overnight, people asking for his approval on things — he had to have approval on everything because he was a micromanager. At 12 to 12:30 he’d have breakfast. Shelly had her own office, but she always wanted to eat with him. But he would talk to Lou the whole time. I would bring the food for all three of them. And if Lou didn’t have something for her meal he would scream at me because Lou wasn’t happy. But he didn’t give a fuck about Shelly’s meal.”

What was his typical breakfast? “Poached eggs and toast or an English muffin. Coffee. Sometimes an omelet. If he was doing his diet, then five egg whites and one yolk. Turkey bacon and half a slice of bread. It had to be perfect or it was hell. I did lower conditions on eggs, and I got sec-checked because his breakfast was wrong once.”

After the meal he would go to the huge and elaborate structure — “Building 50” — that had been constructed just for Miscavige and the Religious Technology Center. “He’d either have a meeting and scream at people, or he would go into his lounge and watch sports. Or walk around and smoke. He was very lackadaisical about it, while every other Sea Org member on the base was tearing around, walking fast, and taking 15-minute meal breaks.”


[A drone’s eye view of Building 50]

At lunch, it was always the same three that had been together for breakfast — Shelly, Dave, and Laurisse. But for dinner, sometimes they would invite a fourth, like Jenny Linson or Angie Blankenship.


If they were in trouble, they’d still be invited, but Valerie would be asked to prepare a surprise for them.

“He would say, ‘Bring them coffee but put cayenne pepper in it.’ So I would do that.”

After dinner, there were more meetings. “They would talk about how fucked up the people were. And then he would watch TV. He loved that Jennifer Garner show, Alias. He watched it all the time. On the weekend, he had to go to the theater to see the latest releases.” It didn’t seem to bother him that he spent a lot of time watching sports or films when the people around him were running from place to place on a neverending emergency schedule, never with time to watch TV or movies.

“Then at about midnight he would go to his lounge and have scotch with Lou. Shelly didn’t like him drinking, and she tried to keep me from giving him alcohol. To hide it. This would be like nightly. He would drink scotch, smoke, and talk to Laurisse. I was there, so I know they didn’t fuck. I was in the room.”

“It was the dichotomy that always struck me. He ran a tight ship and you needed to be a tough motherfucker. ‘What the fuck have you been doing? Sec check him and find out what the fuck he’s been doing!’ But his day was so lackadaisical. Shelly told me, ‘I feel like I’m a totally unproductive person.’ She said, ‘This is a joke, we’re not doing anything.'”

We told Valerie that Dave’s typical day actually sounded kind of boring.

“Exactly! But then there were expensive trips to the ship. To Disney World. Or diving excursions, which the Sea Org paid for. I mean, the finances were incredible. The whole Tom Cruise 2004 birthday on the Freewinds. The Sea Org paid for all of that. They flew in chefs from Nobu. They flew chefs in from Tom’s favorite Paris restaurant. They ordered in lobsters. It was so extravagant.”

Valerie says she got along well with Cruise and “had no problem” with him. “He was nicer than Dave,” she says.

We told her that John Brousseau told us, “Tom Cruise worships David Miscavige like a god.”

“They worshiped each other,” she says.

What did Shelly tell you, we asked, about the job she was in charge of in 2004, auditioning women to be Cruise’s next girlfriend?

“She thought it was ridiculous. She was just doing what Dave asked her to do. But it absolutely happened.”

Valerie tells us that the relationship between Dave and Shelly deteriorated, and began to get really bad in the summer of 2004. That’s when Miscavige spent huge amounts on a lavish birthday party for Tom Cruise on the Freewinds. Tom had been away from Scientology for several years while he was with Nicole Kidman, but after their 2001 split, Miscavige had made getting Cruise back into the fold the church’s number one goal. By 2004, Cruise was completely gung-ho, and Dave wanted to reward him for it.

Each June, there was a celebration aboard the Freewinds to celebrate its “Maiden Voyage” under Scientology’s ownership in 1988. This time, the Maiden Voyage celebrations would also include a major blowout to celebrate Cruise’s 42nd birthday on July 3.


“Shelly was getting sick of Dave’s lack of response to her, and of his arrogance and the way he was mistreating other people,” Valerie says. But Shelly was also perturbed by Miscavige’s all-consuming “bromance” with Cruise that summer. “Is it just me?” Shelly asked her, wondering if she was the only one put off by Miscavige’s obsession with Cruise.

But then things got worse: “On the Freewinds, he denigrated Shelly in front of the other executives. She was crying in her room.”

The next year, 2005, things got worse and worse. “Shelly was pissed off all the time. Dave was raging at everyone day after day, except for Laurisse. And he had nothing for Shelly. So she was crying every night. She snapped at him a couple of times — ‘Oh, you’re going with Laurisse?’ like that.”

Dave and Shelly had reached a breaking point that summer, but it was Valerie and the other workers in their proximity who felt the effects of it first.

“Everyone connected to Shelly was busted. I was removed and got put on decks — hard labor, digging ditches. And Shelly was separated from Dave. They were no longer together. He was in Los Angeles, she was still at Int Base.”

Our other sources have told us how unusual that was. Dave and Shelly were known for going everywhere together. But suddenly, Dave was gone.

“They were sec-checking me. ‘Has Shelly said anything?’ they asked. They were investigating me and another girl — I think they were gathering information before they were going to investigate Shelly herself.”

Shelly then did two things that apparently sealed her fate. First, she filled some job openings on something known as the “Org Board.” Valerie fills in the detail that one of the reasons Shelly did this while Dave was away was that she wanted to put people in certain positions to minimize their exposure to Miscavige, hoping to lessen some of the tension on the base.

But when Dave returned from LA and saw that she had filled in the org board, he had a titanic meltdown. (We have multiple eyewitnesses to this.) He went back to Los Angeles, and Shelly spent about a week being interrogated.

We told Valerie that during that week, one eyewitness told us that Shelly managed to take a car off the base and drove to Los Angeles, trying to make one last effort to salvage her marriage.

“Yes, that happened,” Valerie says. “Shelly grabbed a car and drove to LA. She drove down and then she came right back.”

Then Shelly had one final act at the base.

“She had to move their stuff out of where they were berthing. There was this huge move going on for a renovation. I was asking if I could help, but I wasn’t allowed to. I was trying to weasel my way in getting close enough to talk to her, but I couldn’t see her.”

As others have told us, Dave and Shelly’s private rooms were in a building known as one of the “Villas,” and plans to renovate it were being held up because Miscavige hadn’t moved his stuff out to temporary rooms. So Shelly had it done. Again, it appeared that she was simply trying to be helpful.


“Dave found out about it, that she had touched his stuff, and the very next day she was gone,” Valerie says.

“I saw her walk to the car, get in on the passenger side, and then drive away. It was two and a half months after I’d been busted.”

She never saw Shelly again.

(Valerie agrees with our other eyewitnesses that Shelly’s disappearance happened in late summer 2005, not 2006 as she said on Tuesday night’s episode.)

We asked her how people talked about it after Shelly never showed up again at Int Base.

“They would say, she must have betrayed him. She must have done something. She’s treasonous. Dave must have had good reason.” But mostly, people didn’t dare talk about it at all.

After Shelly was gone, Miscavige spent even more time with his personal communicator, Laurisse. “She was with him every single second — that wasn’t the case before.”

Did Valerie suspect that something was going on between them at that point?

“Yes, but I can’t prove anything,” she says.


[After Shelly: Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise, David Miscavige, and Laurisse Henley-Smith at a motorcycle race]

Another of the blockbuster revelations from Tuesday night’s episode was Valerie confirming that “The Hole” still existed at Int Base when she left in 2016.

It was the Tampa Bay Times that revealed the existence of The Hole in its 2009 special report “The Truth Rundown.” The Hole was a prison for his top executives that Miscavige first created in early 2004. By 2006 it was housed in a set of rooms that had bars on the windows and doors, with dozens of high-level executives confined day and night, only let out in the morning for a shower, fed slop from the mess hall leftovers, and forced to do degrading mind games during the day.


But after the massive amount of media about The Hole after 2009, Miscavige had been forced to make changes. We told Valerie that we had heard Miscavige had taken the prisoners out of the double-wide trailers and allowed them to sleep in “Berthing” — regular apartments — at night, but that they were still segregated and spent the day at “Qual,” a building with a sort of steeple that you can see from Gilman Springs Road.

“That’s all exactly correct,” Valerie says. At one point, the number of prisoners in The Hole got up to about 120, but it was down to only about 30 when she left in late 2016.

And the population of Int Base itself has long been in decline, from about 850 at its height to just some 300 when Valerie left.

Miscavige himself hadn’t been to Int Base since 2013, she says.

And Shelly? Valerie agrees that she’s still at the CST headquarters near Lake Arrowhead. And it would be very difficult for her to leave now.

“She’s been in Scientology her whole life. If she left now, she would have absolutely nothing.”

We have written extensively since 2012 about Shelly’s disappearance, and there have been magazine stories and even television shows about it. So people often ask us if we believe Miscavige would have Shelly moved to another location after all that media attention about her.

We told Valerie that according to our other sources, we think that’s unlikely. She agreed.

“I don’t think there’s any other place where Dave can control her like at that place. It’s super secret, and the CST workers take that seriously.”

Last year, on Leah’s show, John Brousseau said that Miscavige will keep Shelly in hiding until she dies, and that she’s definitely a prisoner.

“I think JB is right. I think that she is going to die there. It’s very unfortunate because she’s actually a lovely lady.”

We told her some former Sea Org members claim that she actually has a plum assignment, at a nice mountain compound and away from Dave.

“I don’t think she has a nice situation. She’s completely secluded from the world where when she was with him at least she got to go out and experience life. She loves going out and getting dressed up and wearing her pretty clothes, and was always very fashionable. And she doesn’t get to do that anymore, which was kind of the highlight of her moments in her life.”

[A map showing the relative positions of Scientology’s Los Angeles headquarters — “PAC Base,” for “Pacific Area Command” or “Big Blue” for its color — and about 90 miles east the secretive Int Base, where “The Hole” is located. Shelly vanished from Int Base in late summer 2005, and since then she’s been housed at another, smaller compound in the mountains near Lake Arrowhead, the headquarters compound of CST, the Church of Spiritual Technology, where L. Ron Hubbard’s works are archived for storing underground in vaults in California and New Mexico.]


Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[Kelly Preston, Beck, and Anne Archer]

We’re building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs.’ 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.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Today’s Scientology front: World Institute of Scientology Enterprises (WISE)!



Now on sale: Twice the Miss Lovely!

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. What a pleasure it is for us to work with her on this after we wrote about her ordeal as a victim of Scientology’s “Fair Game” campaigns in our 2015 book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, which is also on sale in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions.



[ONE year ago] The new list of Scientology donors is out early this year — and the biggest whale is missing!
[TWO years ago] Amy Scobee: ‘Even on her deathbed, my mom was fighting Scientology and disconnection’
[THREE years ago] Where it all began for us: Rick Ross, David Koresh, and the Church of Scientology
[FOUR years ago] Scientology Sunday Funnies: An oily and super powered edition of our weekly feature!
[FIVE years ago] Scientology Celebrates its Legal Defense Slush Fund, and What a Party!
[SIX years ago] Miscavige Gets His Wish: Marty Rathbun Pulling Up Stakes?


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,284 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,917 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,397 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 460 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 348 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,655 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,523 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,297 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,071 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,417 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,983 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 6,903 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,070 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,651 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,911 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,951 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,663 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,189 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,278 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,418 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,738 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,594 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,713 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,069 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,371 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,477 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,880 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,751 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,334 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,839 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,083 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,192 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on November 30, 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates

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

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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