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Scientology’s cruise ship and kids: Raped on the Freewinds at 12

[Joey Chait as a teenager on a Freewinds excursion]

When Joey Chait saw the news about Scientology’s cruise ship the Freewinds blow up, he knew it was time to come forward with something he’s never told anyone before, not even his own parents.

And Joey’s parents are actually very big deals in the world of Scientology. Joey’s father, Isadore Moses Chait, known as Izzy, is not only an OT 8, having reached the pinnacle of Scientology spiritual achievement, but he’s also long been known as a major figure in the Asian art world, with his Los Angeles gallery I.M. Chait — and he’s donated millions to the church.

Although Joey’s relationship with the church was rockier, he was completely dedicated to his father and had never had another job other than working at the gallery when he was caught selling an art object made from rhino horn in a government sting that we told you about earlier. As we explained then, a federal judge took into account how Joey had been influenced by his Scientology upbringing and his demanding father. (It seemed pretty plain that Izzy Chait himself had been the focus of the government probe, but he had suffered a heart attack and wasn’t a realistic figure for prosecution by this time.) Judge J. Paul Oetken sentenced Joey to a year in prison, not the 2 to 3 prosecutors were asking for. Joey has served his time and is now no longer associated with the gallery. He’s also engaged to be married to his boyfriend, and he’s been getting therapy to help him deal with his Scientology past.

One of the things he needs therapy about, he tells us, is what happened to him on the Freewinds in 1990.

Two years before, in June 1988, Scientology launched its new ship on its “Maiden Voyage,” and Joey’s parents, Izzy and Mary Ann, were part of the celebration. For years, dedicated church members like the Chaits had been waiting for L. Ron Hubbard’s ultimate auditing (past-life counseling) level, Operating Thetan Level Eight (OT 8), to be released. Hubbard himself had died in 1986, and now Scientology was finally going to make the secret new materials available, but only for those who could afford to come for a cruise on their new ship.


The passenger vessel had been built in 1968 in Finland and given the name MS Bohème. Scientology bought it in 1986 and spent two years refurbishing it on the island of Curacao. Now, as the MV Freewinds it was ready to take on passengers for their auditing adventure. Joey tells us he never asked his father about the controversy that surrounded that original version of OT 8. In it, Hubbard revealed that he was the antichrist, he denigrated Jesus as a “lover of young boys,” and also declared himself the reincarnation of Buddha. The materials proved so upsetting to some Scientologists, they were scrapped almost immediately and a “New OT 8” took its place. Ever since then, the primary mission of the Freewinds has been to deliver that New OT 8 experience, but it now also has packages for less experienced Scientologists to bolster attendance.

A year after that first voyage, in June 1989, Scientology invited its wealthy backers to celebrate the first anniversary of Maiden Voyage, a tradition that continues to this day. But this time, not only did Izzy and Mary Ann go, but they took their three sons with them.

“I went to the first ten anniversaries, and I haven’t been back since,” Joey tells us. “At that time, kids weren’t supposed to be on the ship. But my dad had given so much money, they bent the rules.”

Joey, like so many others we’ve talked to, explains how family dynamics are unique in Scientology. Parents tend to be so focused on their “Bridge” — moving up the levels of achievement created by Hubbard — that supervising children becomes an afterthought. In Scientology, we’re all ancient, immortal beings called “thetans” who have lived countless times here and in other parts of the galaxy. So a child is something of an illusion — it’s also an ancient thetan, but in a smaller package, and one with little actual connection to other family members, who are also thetans with no “biological” connection to each other. For that reason, Scientology kids tend to wander where they want, and are treated like adults.

Joey found that he had a lot of freedom on the ship to go where he wanted while his parents were going through their seminars and celebrations. And on his second trip, the second anniversary Maiden Voyage in 1990, he found himself being approached by a man of about 22 or 23 years old.

Joey was 12.

“I don’t remember how it led up to it, but one night after the International Event — and there was an event every night with a different senior executive — after the event, there was a black-tie afterparty, at the pool deck on the ship. It was really late and everyone went to bed. But this guy, I had seen him before at Scientology events and I knew who he was. I think my family was sort of friends with his family,” Joey says.

“As a 12-year-old, I kind of had a crush on him, and I think he could see that. He went up to the top level, the sun deck. It had beach chairs, a dart board, and ping pong tables. I followed him up there and we started talking. Somehow we ended up behind the ping pong table near a back corner, where he said he knew there weren’t any cameras. He started touching me in my private area. Then he sort of guided me to perform oral sex on him, which I did. And then he finished and it ended there. We didn’t speak about it for the rest of the trip.”

A year later, at the third anniversary Maiden Voyage celebration, in 1991, the Chaits returned. “The same thing happened again. I was a year older. We were back on the sun deck. I did the same thing to him. I think it might have happened a third year too. We had a little more of a conversation on the second or third time. ‘You know, you can’t tell anyone about this,’ he told me.”

That’s a tricky situation when you’re a Scientologist. As so many former members tell us, there is no privacy in Scientology, and members regularly go through brutal interrogations known as “sec checks,” and sexual secrets are their primary focus. Both Joey and the older man knew this was going to be an issue.

“I was starting my training. I was doing Student Hat. He said, ‘When you start your auditing you have to make sure you don’t say anything about this. It would be bad for your family and bad for my family.’ I was pretty much in love with him, and I would have done whatever he asked me to,” Joey says. “I never said anything. For me it didn’t feel like it was wrong because I loved the guy. I thought we were having a full on relationship. I thought of him as my boyfriend.”

Joey says that in following years, he occasionally saw the man in the halls at the Flag Land Base or other locations. When he was about 15 (which is about the age you see in the photo at the top of the page), Joey reached out.

“I wrote him a letter. He wrote me back a letter, saying ‘I still love you, don’t tell anyone.'” Joey says the experience left him confused, frustrated, and feeling a heavy dose of guilt.

“For a very long time, I thought it was my fault. And I think that my Scientology training, my training as an auditor and in ethics reinforced that. You learn that you’re responsible for everything that ever happens to you. And even though you’re a child, you know what LRH says, that it’s not an excuse, a child is an adult in a small body. So if someone had found out about it, I would have happily taken responsibility for it,” he says. “Now, I realize that’s bullshit. I was a child and he was an adult.”

Joey says that in therapy, he’s learning to see the incident in a new light. “I’m starting to come to terms with how much of an effect that put on me. It’s very damaging. I think a lot of people who grew up as Scientologists feel that way, that their childhoods were taken away from them. And I think that incident really shaped who I am today.”

We asked him for his feelings now about the Freewinds. “It’s a floating space ship. There are plenty of kids there now. And we had no adult supervision because the adults were on course. We pretty much did what we wanted. There’s no accountability. I think the Freewinds is another level of a safe haven for criminals and pedophiles. And I think what a lot of people don’t realize, the auditing technology promotes that kind of molestation. You have the auditor asking young kids about their ‘overts’ [bad deeds] and getting details about how they masturbated. Like when I was 15 or 16 and auditing an adult, which is required per L. Ron Hubbard, these older guys were telling me their deepest darkest perverted overts,” he says. (We’ve written previously about this bizarre practice in Scientology, to have young teenagers interrogate older members about their sexual acts and thoughts. Former members assure us that this practice continues today.)

“I remember there was this one guy I was auditing, he was about 30, and he admitted that he molested his five-year-old niece. I had to ask him where he touched her, how did he touch her, because that’s how I was trained. And then I had to forgive him, because that’s what the tech says to do.”

Does he think that kind of auditing, with teenagers pulling sexual secrets out of adults, is still going on? “Oh, for sure,” he says.

“In the early 1990s, they started a ‘Teen Week’ on the Freewinds. I went to the first one. All kinds of stuff was going on. Kids brought marijuana to the ship. Kids were having sex. There just weren’t enough adults to supervise us. It was a mess. And I think the potential for that is still there.”


[Joey Chait on a glass-bottom boat excursion with other Freewinds passengers, circa 1993]


HowdyCon 2019 in Los Angeles

THURSDAY NIGHT OPPORTUNITY: 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. But we also want to point out that Cathy Schenkelberg’s “Squeeze My Cans” will be running at the Hollywood Fringe, and we encourage HowdyCon attendees to see her show on Thursday night, June 20. Tickets and more dates available here.

Friday night June 21 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. Note: You need to ask for the “family reunion” special rate.



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

[The Big Three: Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley]

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] Scientology celeb Joy Villa takes down her ‘testing the waters’ for Congress web pages
[TWO years ago] Even in Mexico, Scientology bullies people with hired muscle — but for now strikes out
[THREE years ago] Scientology’s hypnotic suggestion: What’s true for you is what’s true for L. Ron Hubbard
[FOUR years ago] Guest post: 20 reasons the Church of Scientology is a cult and a fraud
[FIVE years ago] Scientology’s plans for the KCET studios in Los Angeles finally taking shape?
[SEVEN years ago] The Five Most Dream-Like Sequences in the John Travolta Sex-Assault Lawsuit
[NINE years ago] Tom Cruise Was Secretly Videotaped So Scientology Leader David Miscavige Could Regale Party Guests?


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,439 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,568 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,072 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,552 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 612 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 503 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,810 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,678 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,452 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,226 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,572 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,138 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,058 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,225 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,806 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,067 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,106 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,818 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,344 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,433 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,573 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,893 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,749 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,868 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,224 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,526 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,632 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,034 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,906 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,489 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,984 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,238 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,347 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 7, 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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