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When Scientology’s ‘disconnection’ is forever, and other developments

[Denise Byrne and Adam Holland]

We have some follow-ups to recent stories that we collected for you today. Up first, we told you on Friday about the suicide of former Sea Org member Adam Holland. After leaving Scientology, his father Paul Holland cut of all ties from him in the Scientology way, and it devastated the young man, who tried to raise awareness about Scientology’s abuses in Canada.

Adam contacted us last year to tell us that he’d finally managed to write something about the 2013 death of his mother, Denise Byrne, who was a loyal Underground Bunker reader. We said on Friday that what Adam posted was no longer online and we hoped someone could track it down for us. Sure enough, one of our readers did have a copy of it, and it’s just as we remembered it. So here’s Adam’s remembrance of his mother, written last year, and only several months before he took his own life.

Goodbye, Mom
It has been five years since she passed away, and I have not properly begun to grieve her passing. The amount of turbulence and misfortune I have faced in the time since escaping Scientology has been unbelievable. I don’t even know how I have survived.

I just re-watched a memorial video that was produced by a friend of hers on Facebook. I was actually just looking for some of the clips of my protest activism, since I was introducing an on-line friend to my experience leaving the Scientology corporation.


So many thoughts rushed to my mind…

…How our relationship had grown so much stronger than all my childhood years living with my dad after the separation and divorce in the 90’s.

…How she did everything she could with such limited resources to help me, providing a simple desk where I could put my computer and keep some of my valuables while I only had enough to rent a single room, and had to keep moving to new places because of one sort of ruckus or another.

…And how if I never escaped, I would not have been able to spend those last three years visiting her… and I would likely have not even attended her funeral, given that it’s hard to leave the Los Angeles branch.

Instead of being entrapped in the corporation, absent from my mom’s life entirely, as happens when you’re caught up in the mind control, I was able to get to know important things about her. In those three short years, I found out she had hidden her disdain for Scientology for years, pretending to be a believer who was just inactive. She was so afraid that I’d be ordered to disconnect from her if they found out.

When I was declared, and my dad was given no choice but to kick me out of the house, she was there for me. I am forever grateful.

I began to visit her much more often, especially after my depression got to the point where I couldn’t work. Gradually, she told me everything. It turns out that she hated that I had been recruited into the Sea Org and she felt powerless to do anything about it, other than conceal her objection. My dad was a stronger influence in my life at the time and she didn’t think she’d be able to convince me to leave the cult without him getting in the way.

So, despite everything, it ended up that I was able to be there for my mom’s funeral. Not only that, but I was the executor of her estate, for which the final and most sacred task was travelling alone to her home town on the other end of the country, and to disperse her ashes in a meaningful place.

If I had escaped the cult decades after her death, I’d never forgive myself for not attending her funeral because of some stupid thing like low statistics or a “critical” project that was too important to take time off.

My dad still has all the family photos. I should have taken a bunch with me when I was packing my belongings, but I didn’t think about that while my world was crashing down around me. Fortunately, I do have one picture of me and Mom, taken while we attended an art show at a charity she was involved with.

A Terrible Habit

Every time a stranger comes up to me and asks for a cigarette, instead of ignoring them or saying ‘no’, I tell them that smoking killed my mother. I say it every time and I will continue to say it so long as there are people who would ask me to contribute to the same horrible fate as my mom.

When I was a kid she always told me and my sister to never, never start smoking. She had tried so many times to quit but she couldn’t beat it. If I can help convince one person to quit, I know she’d be proud of me.



FBI drops in on wealthy Scientologist’s company

Last month, Jeffrey Augustine told us about David Gentile, a wealthy Scientologist whose investment company, GPB Capital Holdings, had raised $1.8 billion on high-risk investments into car dealerships and waste management. And increasingly, the company was coming under the scrutiny of the financial press.

Yesterday, that press attention got a lot hotter when Investment News reported that the FBI paid an unannounced visit to GPB last week: “The FBI entered the firm’s Manhattan offices on Thursday, along with officials from the New York City Business Integrity Commission.”

According to the BIC’s website, its mission is “to eliminate organized crime and other forms of corruption and criminality from the public wholesale markets, the trade waste and shipboard gambling industries.”

Gentile sent out a letter to his investors, telling them that the company has been going through a process of strengthening its oversight practices. “On February 28, 2019, authorities came to GPB Capital’s New York offices and collected material. We believe the visit, while unscheduled, was a continuation of this process and we will remain cooperative with any inquiries.”

Meanwhile, Jeffrey tells us that in a lawsuit between GPB and a former director of the company, the former director recently filed a counterclaim and accused GPB of being a “Ponzi scheme.” Yikes.


Anthony Reid gives thanks

Monday’s story produced a remarkable outpouring from our readers, so we asked the subject of the post, Anthony Reid, what it meant to him…

After seeing all the comments, I know in a way I’m preaching to the choir, but hopefully some of your followers will send my story out to others. I wouldn’t wish my state of life on my worst enemy. (Or, OK, maybe I would in the case of Kathy True or David Miscavige.)

I’ve sent a couple of relatives who are still in the church an email telling them what happened to me, and it was great to have a website they could go to that shows the abuse I’ve been through.

It was a great feeling of relief to finally get my story out. Thank you so much for letting me tell my story.

— Anthony Reid


HowdyCon 2019 in Los Angeles

This year’s HowdyCon is in Los Angeles. People tend to come in starting on Thursday, and that evening we will have a casual get-together at a watering hole. We have something in mind, but for now we’re not giving out information about it.

Friday night we will be having an event in a theater (like we did on Saturday night last year in Chicago). There will not be a charge to attend this event, but if you want to attend, you need to RSVP with your proprietor at tonyo94 AT gmail.

On Saturday, we are joining forces with Janis Gillham Grady, who is having a reunion in honor of the late Bill Franks. Originally, we thought this event might take place in Riverside, but instead it’s in the Los Angeles area. If you wish to attend the reunion, you will need to RSVP with Janis (janisgrady AT gmail), and there will be a small contribution she’s asking for in order to help cover her costs.

HOTEL: Janis tells us she’s worked out a deal with Hampton Inn and Suites, at 7501 North Glenoaks Blvd, Burbank, (818) 768-1106. We have a $159 nightly rate for June 19 to 22.



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] What Scientology TV should be about — but won’t dare to put on the air
[TWO years ago] Scientology caught in a lie to federal court — but will the judge care?
[THREE years ago] Scientology snags a TV news host, and other social media finds around the world
[FOUR years ago] Scientology posts the (nearly) full deposition of reclusive ‘Justice Chief’ Mike Ellis
[FIVE years ago] Scientology gets the ‘America’s Book of Secrets’ treatment soon!
[SIX years ago] Scientology’s New Strategy: Attack of the Clones!
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology, Deposed? Debbie Cook Goes on the Offensive


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,380 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,511 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,013 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,493 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 556 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 444 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,751 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,619 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,393 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,167 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,513 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,079 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 6,999 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,166 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,747 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,007 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,047 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,759 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,285 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,374 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,514 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,834 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,690 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,809 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,165 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,467 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,573 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,975 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,847 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,430 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,925 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,179 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,288 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 6, 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 | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


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