Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Scientology slimes ‘Aftermath’ guest with its favorite tactic: The P.O.W. video

[Heather Ruggeri]

Just before last night’s Scientology and the Aftermath episode aired on A&E, the Church of Scientology posted a letter by spokeswoman Karin Pouw to the website it uses for attacking the show.

Pouw’s letter took some fairly weak jabs at the episode’s featured guests — Mark and Stephanie Fladd, who lost a house after Mark paid $35,000 for a “Clear” package that he didn’t complete; Tyler Adams, who lost an eye working in Scientology’s Sea Org; Heather Ruggeri, whose mother had an inheritance sucked away through Scientology’s vampiric fundraising pressure; and Carol Nyburg, whose job it was to apply that kind of extortionate pressure.

The letter may have been weak, but Scientology also included one of its slimiest strategies: what we usually call a “P.O.W. video,” recorded by a Scientology member who looks like they are talking with about as much genuine volition as a prisoner of war under the gun.

In this case, it was Heather Ruggeri who won last night’s smear lottery. The video featured her sister, Jennifer Butler, a Sea Org employee who is an Ethics officer at Scientology’s secretive Int Base near Hemet, California.



Here’s the full transcript of what Jennifer said:

My mom was very excited about this contribution that she made in her and my dad’s name. We spoke about it and she very excitedly told me that she had done this. I was very happy for her and Heather is taking this and making it seem as if my mom is some poor helpless person who doesn’t know what she’s doing, as if Ann is some victim. And it’s just not true. And my mom did this completely on her own bat. She did it as she wanted to do it. It was her money. She spent it as she wanted to, and Heather is now spinning this out of proportion and dishonestly. You don’t make a contribution to St. Jude’s Hospital or the Susan G. Komen Foundation and ask for it back. This is just dishonest. Heather is blowing this out of proportion and being dishonest about it, extorting money or attempting to, and really just being, she’s a liar.

My sister Heather went to go live with my grandmother. I hadn’t seen her, Heather, for weeks, months and I all of a sudden find out that she is living with my grandmother. And she only lived with my grandmother for a few months, but during this time she was dishonest. She was lazy, she was immature. She wouldn’t get productive, get a good job, become productive in life. And instead she was only concerned about getting a boyfriend and making a baby. That’s the only thing she was concerned about. Furthermore she actually was dating a cousin, which it’s just — in my family, this is no way. And in most families I don’t think that’s OK. So you know it’s just it’s sort of incestuous, and really just yecch, and so you just don’t do that. So after this my grandmother had had it. It’s so far from the morality and the morals which she taught her own children. She had had enough and she kicked Heather out of the house. She told me this and she just said you know her priorities were wrong. Heather then, after this happened, wrote to me, and instead of telling me the truth of what occurred and how Heather was living her life, she tried to tell me that, hey, your grandmother doesn’t love you. And this couldn’t be further from the truth. I have been so close to my grandmother since I was very little and I was close to her when I was growing up and I was close to her right to the end before she passed away. So Heather was further just lying and more trying to create a schism within my family and trying to break up my relationship with my grandmother. I think that Heather went on to a show to make money, and she is only doing an interview just to get money, and she’s trying to extort money out of people so that instead of working for it.

We spoke last night after the episode aired with Heather and her mother, Ann Lenarcic. They were both saddened to see Jennifer used this way by the church.

“It is an awful feeling,” Heather said. “And on top of it, she didn’t get one single fact correct.

“She says that I was living with her grandmother, which is my stepfather’s mother, and being not productive. And just trying to have a boyfriend and have a baby. That is so far from the truth it’s unbelievable. I was working a retail job, trying to get enough money so I could get my own place. Yeah, I had a boyfriend. But saying that was my cousin? That is such pure bullshit.”

Heather and her mother explained to us that Heather’s husband is not a blood relation at all: His aunt is married to Ann’s cousin.

“Jennifer is in the Sea Org. She wasn’t around. She doesn’t know anything about this at all,” Heather pointed out. “It’s disgusting.”

Lazy? One month after Heather left the Sea Org, she had a paying job. “I was determined to make some money to have our own place,” she said. “My stepfather’s mother graciously took us in.”

And kicked out? “I moved out because I had an opportunity to go live with my boyfriend and pay rent in our own place,” Heather added. She’s now married and has a daughter, as we saw on last night’s episode.

During last night’s show, Heather talked about how her mother Ann had been convinced to turn over an inheritance to the church — and the reason Heather was there telling Leah the story instead of Ann herself was that Ann still hoped that she could reason with the church to help her get some of her money back.

But after seeing the video of her daughter Jennifer, Ann agreed to talk to us last night, saying that it was clear her original strategy wasn’t going to work.

“I am outraged,” Ann told us.


“Before I left the Sea Org in 2008, I was the Finance Director of the Eastern US. I know very well what lengths the IAS goes to,” she told us, and she let us know that today (Wednesday) she was turning 72 years old.

“It’s not an easy matter for me to have to deal with. But I’m going to have to work for many more years. I don’t have Social Security.”

As Heather explained on the show last night, after Ann came into an inheritance after her mother died, she was put under intense pressure by the church to turn it over to Scientology. Also, because she was so cut off from the outside world as a Sea Org member, she didn’t realize that cashing in her inheritance and giving it to Scientology cost her penalties she only learned about when she left the organization.

When Ann did leave the Sea Org, she went to a cousin’s house in San Francisco, and it took the church a couple of months to locate her.

“My daughter Jennifer finally got hold of me, bawling her eyes out, telling me that I ruined her life. Then finally she told me she had to disconnect from me. The last time I talked to my daughter was in May 2008. I have not spoken to her since.”

She says that Jennifer, in the video, completely mischaracterizes her decision to turn the money over to the church. She wasn’t happy about it at all.

“I’m very hurt that she said the things she did, because they’re so not true. She wasn’t there when it happened, so she’s making up her story,” Ann said.

“She was reading something, clearly,” Heather said about Jennifer’s performance on the video, and her mother agreed.

As for Jennifer’s final lines, that Heather only went on Aftermath for some kind of payout, Heather said, “I made zero money appearing on the show. And I had to take time off of work to appear on the show, which cost me money.”

There’s nothing on Scientology’s video to indicate that Jennifer has signed a billion-year contract to be part of the Sea Org, works around the clock 365 days a year, and of course would say anything that the church wanted her to.

Jennifer is simply being a good soldier, lying about her mother and sliming her sister because that’s what she’s been asked to do.

And Scientology putting her through this pathetic exercise only reinforces everything Leah is saying about this thing that calls itself a church.


Why so salty?

Meanwhile, over at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook group, Craig Kanning shared this gem with us yesterday.

Craig’s caption: “While we were all sharing time with friends, family and loved ones on Christmas Eve, Nicholas Lannoye with the Chaplain’s office was wondering why I’m salty with Scientology. Nick, get a life. Move on from me. I left in 2003.”



Sydney escape witnessed

This comment was placed on a Facebook posting of an article about the recent stabbing in Sydney. We thought it was worth bringing to your attention…

This Scientology stuff is all very strange. Recently I was at Sydney airport and in the Virgin Airlines queue behind me was a woman and a man. The man was obsessively pleading with the woman. He was holding a mobile phone in his hand. I immediately thought its some sort of lover’s tiff and she’s leaving him on a jet plane. She said not one word back to him and was steadfast. She kept very focused and determined not to give in to his demands. She looked very stressed and upset. He started to call someone on the phone whilst continuing to talk down to her. It was very concerning. I looked at the black jacket he was wearing. It had a badge on it which said “Sydney Scientology”. I put two and two together. She got through the security check and so did the man, who continued to follow her. I was right up beside them by this time and I asked the woman if she was ok? She put on a brave face and said she was. The man was quickly joined by a woman in a two piece suit and a tall man, both of whom also holding mobile phones in their hands and pointed towards the woman – as if wanting to record something. I could hear some of what they were saying. It was talk of abandoning the church or similar words. At the security check the man produced a small black electronic object from his pocket and walked over to a nearby wall and placed it on the floor, he left it there and then came back. When I saw this I immediately approached a security officer nearby and told him what I just saw. Scary stuff. The people pursued the woman through the Virgin gate lounges. They looked smart enough to avoid causing a scene, but their very behaviour was a scene. They wouldn’t back off. They were completely intimidating to her and I knew they were not police or working undercover for some agency. To her credit the woman kept strong, she did not usher not one single word in response to their pounding questions and intimidation of her. I wanted to yell at them to “go and get a fu**** life and leave the woman alone!” I lost them at this point but when I saw them again, the woman was now in the company of a man whom if I were to guess, I’d say it was her father, holding her arm tight and walking quickly beside her being very supportive. They were determined to get out of there as efficiently as possible. I lost the Scientology jacket-wearing man and the others at this point. I didn’t see where the woman went to. I sincerely hope she’s ok and have thought about her from time to time. I concluded that Scientology people seem to all look the same – always smartly dressed but with free will and liberty drained from their faces. Scary stuff. (I actually hope the Scientology jacket man sees this post so he can answer for what I witnessed that morning, it was appalling).


Start making your plans!


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

[Elisabeth Moss, Michael Peña, and Laura Prepon]

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!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] ‘It was my job to get Mike Rinder’s trash’ — A former Scientology spy begins to spill her guts
[TWO years ago] L. Ron Hubbard’s writing about women that Scientology DOES want you to see!
[THREE years ago] ‘Archetypical newshound’ Paulette Cooper described in ‘thrilling account’ — Kirkus
[FOUR years ago] Full Forrest Ackerman interview from 1997 ‘Secret Lives’ film released for first time
[FIVE years ago] Jeff Hawkins: How Scientology’s ‘Third Party Law’ explains anything they want it to
[SIX years ago] Excerpts of Lawrence Wright’s Book on Scientology are Predictably Awesome
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology: Secrets of the Super Power Building


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,324 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,455 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,957 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,437 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 500 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 388 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,695 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,563 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,337 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,111 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,457 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,023 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 6,943 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,110 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,691 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,951 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,991 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,703 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,229 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,318 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,458 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,778 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,634 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,753 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,109 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,411 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,517 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,920 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,791 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,374 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,869 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,123 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,232 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 9, 2019 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 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. Our book about Paulette, 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, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | 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, or 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email