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What California’s controversial new confessions bill means for Scientology

We’ve heard from a number of readers who were curious about how a controversial new bill working its way through the California legislature might affect the Church of Scientology.

California Senate Bill 360 would require Catholic priests to report other priests who admit to child sexual assault in confession. The bill’s sponsors say this is a direct result of years of controversy over child rape in the Catholic church, and that priests should have to report to authorities just as doctors or school employees when they learn that a child is being harmed.

But the bill, which passed a Senate vote of 30-2 and now goes to California’s Assembly, is generating loud opposition from Catholic officials who say it would destroy the sanctity of the confession, something priests have been willing to go to prison to protect. (Violating the new law would only be a misdemeanor.)

It’s an interesting debate, whether the protection of vulnerable and abused children outweighs the religious rights of priests to protect the secrecy of the confessional, and it’s one we’ll be interested to see play out. But we wanted to address the question of how this might affect Scientology, which claims that its confessional sessions — auditing and “security checks” — should enjoy the same kind of “priest-penitent” protection that Catholics do.


We wanted to remind our readers, or inform our newer visitors, that this matter was already decided several years ago, and not to Scientology’s satisfaction.

If you remember, a former Sea Org worker named Laura DeCrescenzo filed a lawsuit against Scientology in 2009, claiming that she had been abused by the church from the time she joined the Sea Org at 12, was forced to have an abortion at only 17, and had to drink bleach in a suicide attempt in order to escape the Sea Org’s notorious “Rehabilitation Project Force” prison detail and ultimately left the Sea Org itself.

Scientology fought her lawsuit with its characteristic scorched-earth tactics and delaying strategies, until finally, just before trial was scheduled last year, nine years after she first filed her suit, Laura won a huge settlement from the church.

Along the way, one of the things she did to help her chances was demand that the church turn over all of her personal folders. Scientology is deeply bureacratic and is practically fetishistic about building up files and dossiers on its members, much of which is hand-written and not computerized. Laura knew that there would be volumes and volumes of material in her files to back up her case, and the court agreed that she was entitled to have them.

But Scientology objected, claiming that the content of her files was the equivalent of “priest-penitent” material, as if her auditors and interrogators were like Catholic priests, and anything shared in those sessions was sacrosanct, like the secrets whispered in a confessional.

Scientology fought the court order to turn over Laura’s files not only in state appeals court, but also with petitions to the California State Supreme Court and even the US Supreme Court, to no avail. Scientology was eventually forced to turn over all of Laura’s files, amounting to 18,000 pages of material.

Why did Scientology lose that fight? Because its claim that auditing files are confidential is a farce.

This was spelled out quite clearly in court documents. In a Catholic confessional, a priest hears the confession of a parishioner (which can be another priest) one on one, and only verbally — no notes are taken, no record is kept.

In Scientology, not only are detailed notes taken and reports written about what a member says in a confessional session, those notes will be reviewed by “case supervisors” and other officials as a matter of course. In Laura’s case, the church had to admit that 259 people had reviewed her files. 259!

(As a side note, there’s a belief among Scientologists that a simple phrase said at the beginning of a security check, “I’m not auditing you,” means that the sec check waives the confidentiality of a regular auditing session. Actually, as Laura’s case proved, none of the sessions of any kind had been confidential in the organization, and when it came to her court order, Scientology was forced to turn over every one of Laura’s files, whether they were auditing, sec checking, or other files. The phrase at the beginning made no difference at all.)

There is no confidentiality in Scientology. There is no “priest-penitent” privilege when it comes to Scientology’s files. And that precedent has been firmly set by the California State Court of Appeals.

There’s already no legal reason why Scientology officials should not be reporting cases of child molestation that they learn about in auditing or security checking sessions. The reason that Scientology officials don’t report such crimes isn’t about legality. It’s about fear.

Founder L. Ron Hubbard built into Scientology the bedrock principle that Scientology has its own set of ethics, its own set of principles, and that it is a betrayal to follow the laws and principles of “wogs” — his word for non-Scientologists, which he adopted from racist British slang.

One of the worst “high crimes” you can commit in Scientology is to rat out a fellow Scientologist to wog authorities. Suing a fellow member or reporting them to the police can result in your own expulsion in Scientology’s version of the death penalty — being declared “suppressive,” so that every Scientologist, including members of your own family, have to cut off all ties to your or risk being expelled themselves.

Here’s how Mike Rinder put it in a devastating piece he wrote recently about how child sexual abuse does not get reported to the authorities in Scientology by design:

Scientology convinces its followers that turning in any Scientologist to “Wog Law”, or “wog solutions” would only make the person worse. The only hope for a child molester, rapist or pedophile is to be cured by Scientology auditing (counseling). And certainly not to fall into the hands of the criminal justice system which is controlled by psychiatry and is thus bent on destroying people. Second: Even the terminology is different. The words sexual abuse, abuse, rape and pedophile are not taught or used in Scientology…[Also,] it is a considered a terrible crime against humanity to do anything that brings ill repute to Scientology. Scientologists believe that ONLY Scientology can save mankind…Scientologists believe that the well being of Scientology trumps all other factors and concerns, even the well-being of children.

This is what keeps Scientologists from reporting child sex crimes and other crimes to authorities, and we don’t see the change in the California law altering that situation, because Scientology already flouts wog law on a regular basis.

Until law enforcement begins to show that it gives a crap about that, Scientology will continue to get away with subverting justice.


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!

[Catherine Bell, Chick Corea, and Nancy Cartwright]

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] Karen Pressley on the madness of Sea Org life: ‘I no longer belonged to my dreams’
[TWO years ago] L. Ron Hubbard was no Bill Shakespeare, but here’s some of his early playwriting anyway
[THREE years ago] What you didn’t see on ‘I Am Cait’: Kate Bornstein and Caitlyn Jenner at Scientology HQ
[FOUR years ago] Scientology denied: Karen de la Carriere stops a takedown attempt on videos at her channel
[FIVE years ago] The David Miscavige summons, and other dire news for Scientology’s drug rehab network
[SIX years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology Has Your Back!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,458 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,587 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,091 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,611 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 631 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 522 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,829 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,697 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,471 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,245 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,591 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,157 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,077 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,244 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,825 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,086 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,125 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,837 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,363 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,452 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,592 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,912 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,768 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,887 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,243 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,545 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,651 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,053 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,925 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,508 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,003 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,257 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,366 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 26, 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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