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The Underground Bunker’s 2018 Scientology year-in-review starts today!

[If anyone symbolizes the best of 2018…]

It’s been another crazy year of news here at the Underground Bunker, and a decidedly mixed one. But when we thought about a single story that symbolized the year as strongly as Leah Remini’s show did for 2017, one really great, optimistic, sensational piece of good news from the past twelve months came to mind.

The victory of Laura DeCrescenzo.

If 2016 was a dumpster fire, and 2017 a wild ride with Leah Remini, 2018 was the year that one of the many lawsuits we have been following finally came to a stunning and happy conclusion. Laura D spent eight years trying simply to get to a trial over her allegations that she had been forced to have an abortion at only 17 years of age as a worker for Scientology’s Sea Org.

We followed nearly every twist and turn in that journey, covering the many ways that Scientology delayed and tried to dismantle Laura’s case, and were astounded at how slowly the courts responded, always allowing the church to push things off further and further. But then, this year, Scientology lost its last cynical appeal, and Laura’s attorney John Blumberg put a fire under things by serving Scientology leader David Miscavige with a notice to appear in court. In July, just days before a trial was finally scheduled to happen, Miscavige threw in the towel and wrote a huge check to make the case go away.

Of course it was disappointing that the trial didn’t happen, and that a jury didn’t get to hear evidence of the way Laura was treated as a Sea Org worker beginning at only 12 years of age. But, Mike Rinder subsequently explained in a brilliant post at his blog why this victory was still so important, trial or no trial…

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Laura DeCrescenzo inflicted serious and permanent damage on Scientology…We must never forget the legacy of this lawsuit — things that will never change and that will help anyone else in the future who might have been harmed by Scientology’s abusive practices: 1. The court found that Scientology could not benefit by reason of having brainwashed and tricked her to then claim she had been too slow in bringing her lawsuit…2. Laura obtained her pc folders. These contained proof of many of her claims. Scientology’s arguments about protecting their “priest/penitent” documents failed to persuade the Judge in the case, the California Appellate Court, the California Supreme Court and ultimately the US Supreme Court…3. Those Sea Org couples who have become pregnant in the last few years may or may not know that their ability to have a family and escape the Sea Org was in large part because of Laura’s courage and persistence.

So many other crazy things happened in 2018. But we hope people will remember it was the year a woman with the nerve to sue Scientology for eight years got the justice she deserved.

And how was 2018 for the Bunker? Another wild ride, with a stop in Chicago this summer, a new book out, and some changes here at the website recently that you’ve no doubt noticed. Yes, we optimized the site for mobile, and more changes are coming. But what hasn’t changed is the continuing support we get from our many great correspondents and tipsters, and our dogged researchers. And of course, our amazing commenting community that really makes this place unique.

So, as in past years, we’ll be going through a daily look-back at the stories that rocked the Bunker this year, covering a different month each day until December 31, when we combine November and December’s highlights. And at that point, we’ll reveal the overall most-read stories of the year, as well as our pick for our favorite 20 stories of the year. And then, at midnight on January 1, we’ll reveal Observer’s new poster for 2019’s HowdyCon as we plunge into another revolution around the sun here on Teegeeack.

Of course, we won’t stop reporting the news over the next ten days, but we hope you enjoy our look through the archives. So here we go. First up, the stories of January 2018.

 
Historian Chris Owen started off our new year with a fascinating dive into Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s disastrous relationships with his parents and his own children. If Scientology’s own worst policy today, disconnection, rips families apart, it can be traced to the founder’s own miserable record as a son and father.

A few days later, we celebrated the elevation of Scientology lawyer Kendrick Moxon to OT 8, the highest point on the “Bridge to Total Freedom.” And we wondered if his new powers to levitate, read minds, and travel as a disembodied entity wouldn’t give him an unfair advantage in court!

On January 8, we talked to Joy Villa’s ex about her real history before she zoomed to fame with her “MAGA” dress, including her arrest on domestic violence. That story helped us snag an interview later in the month with Joy’s former manager, Robbie Olson, who said that her loyalty to Scientology had ruined her very real chances to ascend the Trumpian heights of MAGA fame.

Over at Mike Rinder’s blog, his wife Christie Collbran told a fascinating tale about a private investigator who had been stalking them. And we revealed that we had our own surprise coming, also in relation to a private eye and the Rinders, coming later in the month.

On January 10 we decided to weigh in on a small controversy over the name of Scientology’s evil galactic overlord. There was some suggestion that the name “Xemu” was the “correct” one, but we showed that Hubbard had used “Xenu” both times he actually wrote it down, and “Xemu” once in a lecture, so it was best to keep in mind that one was not more “correct” than the other.

The next day, we had a lot of fun with a 1963 Hubbard lecture that a reader brought to our attention. Wow, as tall tales go, this was quite a whopper: Hubbard claimed that OT powers included the ability to rip the atmosphere off a planet, and that it must have happened on earth, because that was the only way to explain the fresh mammoth steaks served in 1951 at the Explorers Club in New York. Happily, Jason Colavito had already thoroughly debunked that myth, and another Hubbard fantasy bit the dust.

On January 13, we marked the ten year anniversary since a video of Tom Cruise meant only for Scientologists was leaked to the Internet, becoming a sensation. Ah, the memories.

A few days later we announced that Jon Atack was releasing a new version of A Piece of Blue Sky with an added chapter, which he generously allowed us to post.

Some stories we wait a long time for here at the Bunker, and on January 22 we finally got to tell a story we had first heard about some six years before — the harrowing saga of Katrina Reyes, a Russian immigrant who lost her mother to the Sea Org.

Chris Owen then came back with another deep dive into Scientology history, a two-parter about the Portland crusade of 1985. (Part one, part two.) Oh, those were the days when Scientology could overwhelm a courthouse with a big public turnout.

On January 28, we had another really unsettling look at L. Ron Hubbard’s ideas about children, as told in a 1952 lecture. And then we finished up the month with the big story we had promised earlier — the testimony of Cierra Westerman, the first professional private investigator to come forward after working for the Church of Scientology.

Cierra had been recruited out of a Florida trade school to infiltrate the Anonymous movement for Scientology, and then was part of a massive operation in Clearwater targeting Mike Rinder and other recently defected church officials. She had lived near Rinder, watched his house, and had even taken and sifted through his garbage. She even had receipts. We’re so glad she decided to come forward, and to tell her story at the Underground Bunker.

 
MOST-READ STORIES OF JANUARY 2018:
1. Ten years ago, all hell broke loose for Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology
2. ‘It was my job to get Mike Rinder’s trash’ — A former Scientology spy begins to spill her guts
3. A private eye comes clean: ‘Scientology is a disgrace to the world’
4. Even in 2018, Scientology is still selling L. Ron Hubbard like he had the universe figured out

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5. Leah Remini and Mike Rinder cite Scientology interrogations as they support Paul Haggis

 
A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2017: Brandon Reisdorf was featured on Aftermath. The LAPD snubbed Leah Remini. Marc Headley revealed that he was “bedsheet Jesus.” Billionaire Scientologist Trish Duggan made the scene at Trump’s inaugural. And Bernie Headley inspired us to start our ‘disconnected’ list.

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2016: A local police chief gets played by Scientology, but later thinks better of it. Researcher R.M. Seibert gets the lowdown on how Scientology is using ‘religious’ visas to bring in foreign workers. Karen de la Carriere gets a nasty letter from a Scientology attorney.

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2015: Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, and we were there. Scientology had taken out full-page ads in major newspapers attacking Gibney before the film debuted. And it made predictable attacks afterwards. And in a new release of old documents, John McMaster, the world’s first true “Clear,” revealed that L. Ron Hubbard expected to come back as his daughter Diana’s child.

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2014: We posted the Tommy Davis deposition from the Monique Rathbun lawsuit. Scientology’s own attorney discussed David Miscavige’s “black heart” in open court. Barbara Cordova Oliver went missing. Jefferson Hawkins wrapped up his series on Scientology “ethics.”

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2013: Lawrence Wright’s epic book Going Clear debuted, as did John Sweeney’s book, Luis and Rocio Garcia filed their federal fraud lawsuit, and Atlantic magazine screwed up big time.

 
Five of our favorites from the most-upvoted comments of January 2018

January 2: Observer
Amazing article by Chris Owen. There is so much more to despise about Hubs in here. Anyone who views this amoral lunatic as a spiritual leader needs to wake up.

January 9: Mat Pesch
I know Dwayne Powell well. When Amy and I were living on Clearwater beach in 2009 we were constantly followed by Dwayne and a group of PIs. I was going to a couple auctions every week. It was real obvious Dwayne was trying to make friends with me at the auctions so I knew he we a PI. I played along and told him all about the abuses in Scientology, etc. I told him the house next to ours was rented by PIs. He couldn’t hide his surprise and quickly asked how I knew that. I said because they are so bored (they mainly smoked and drank) when I brought a bag of garbage out to my pail they already grabbed it before I could return with a second bag. Every time we drove or walked we had PIs follow us in an obvious way so as to try to intimidate us. Literally if we went for a walk we had a car slowly drive behind us a couple hundred yards. The times we left Clearwater to visit people in L.A. and Seattle we had the PIs waiting for us and doing the same thing. We had a pool at the place we were renting that Amy and I used every day. The morning after we did an interview at our place with a TV crew, there were two dead rats floating in our pool. Nice touch. There was also a time we were followed on a 45 minute drive to the trailer park in Florida where my parents live. The speed limit in the park is 15 miles an hour. When I was walking in the park the PI was speeding and came close to running me down. I filled a police report and I called the OSA office in Clearwater to tell them to get their boy under control and I left them the number of the police report. I had to leave the message on their answering machine because they were too hairless to talk to me directly, although they knew me personally.

January 11: Michael Leonard Tilse
Scientologists become extremely credulous. They really think that these off the cuff fabulous yarns are true. That Hubbard had full and accurate recall of all his lives going back trillions and quadrillions of years, and he was telling you things you can trust. I believed it. When someone challenged me about Scientology I would relate Hubbard’s conspiracy theories about psychs and pain drug hypnosis as proof, fully believing I was telling true facts. I completely believed the bit about the Explorers Club eating Mammoth meat. It never occurred to me to check these “facts.” Even when I had some notion that Hubbard’s tales didn’t really fit with the accepted common knowledge, I attributed to Hubbard a vast amount of ‘inside knowledge.’ When you have invested money and time and emotional commitment, your friends are Scientologists, you think with all the drivel he pumped out, you work for Scientologists or the organization, it just doesn’t occur to you to have a question about it. Or if you do, you think it will all be revealed later, on the OT levels, or some other upper level confidential training. Without some crisis, that had to be resolved by looking beyond Scientology, I might never have left. I would still live in clouds of hazy conspiracy theories and imaginary beings and becoming a god myself. And if I ever seriously thought of looking outside for answers, I knew full well I would lose my place in line.

January 13: ScamProof
I’m ten years away from my own personal Scientology nightmare. That was when they completely brainwashed my husband in the most calculating manner and managed to strip him of $250,000 by taking all of his cash and “helping” him to elevate his credit card limits. He was in his early 60s at the time. We divorced but remained friends and by about 2010 he finally saw the light that this was a scam. He was devastated and never really recovered financially or emotionally. He died of cancer this past June. I took him back into my home and cared for him until he passed away. While he was battling cancer, he told me that Scientology was his biggest regret in life and he begged for my forgiveness in how he treated me when they were using their tactics to part him from his money – and me. I still receive their horrible junk mail at my house and it’s a constant and disturbing reminder of the awful things they did. Anyway, I’m making a long story very short here because really all I want to do is thank you Tony for continuing with the work of exposing this dangerous and ruthless organization. I only occasionally read one of your blog posts now because I needed to move past the Scientology thing. Whenever I do read a post, I am very grateful that you keep up the good work. Thank you.

January 27: Noesis
Weirdly, I had never heard of Anonymous as a still-in Scientologist, was not impacted by their early exploits and they had zero influence on me at all….until my primary Reg (a famous individual at FLAG) became concerned about me when I asked them an off-the-record question about something in the church that was bothering me. Their immediate response was “You’ve been listening to that crap from Anonymous – haven’t you!!!” I responded that I didn’t even know what that was (which was true.) But about 24 hours later I DID know what Anonymous was and that off-hand comment from XXX was absolutely pivotal in my exit from the church. Thanks XXX! Sorry you are still trapped. Lol.

 
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Wyoming discrimination case — the complaint

Every few months, we hear about a lawsuit alleging that an employer was trying to force Scientology on their employees. This time, the case is in Wyoming, of all places. Julie Rohrbacher is suing Teton Therapy, owned by Jeff McMenamy, for creating a hostile work environment because she didn’t want to go along with the heavy Scientology indoctrination going on.

We thought you’d want to read the court document itself…

Rohrbacher v. Teton Therapy by on Scribd

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

[Kelly Preston, Beck, and Anne Archer]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. 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!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

 
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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.

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2017 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[TWO years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2016 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[THREE years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2015 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[FOUR years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2014 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[FIVE years ago] Jon Atack: For Scientologists, thinking outside the church can feel like breaking a taboo
[SIX years ago] VIDEO: Tiziano Lugli’s “Shit Scientologists Say,” Featuring Prominent Ex-Church Members

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,305 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,436 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,938 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,418 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 481 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 369 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,676 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,544 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,318 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,092 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,438 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,004 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 6,924 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,091 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,672 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,932 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,972 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,684 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,210 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,299 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,439 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,759 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,615 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,734 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,090 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,392 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,498 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,901 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,772 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,355 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,850 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,104 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,213 days.

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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on December 21, 2018 at 08:00

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 Underground 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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