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He freed key documents from Scientology’s rehabs, and now he can talk about it

[David Venemon]

Scientology’s Narconon drug rehab network has been through a lot of change in the last ten years, and we believe that a major reason for that is the dedicated work by many different researchers, journalists, websites, and whistleblowers who have worked diligently to expose Narconon’s deceptive nature.

At one time, we believe, David Miscavige actually believed that Scientology’s Narconon could become a major force in the rehab field. He had banked on it by building a huge 250-bed clinic in Oklahoma, and was increasingly pressing his rehabs to push not only for more patients, but also for more influence with local governments in the hopes of eventually creating a conduit of state and federal money coming into the facilities.

But a combination of highly publicized patient deaths starting in 2008, a raft of lawsuits, and dedicated work by whistleblowers forced Miscavige to scale back. In 2015, he announced to his followers that Narconon would be pursuing a different tack, and we’ve watched as it turned away from the Oklahoma model and has opened new, smaller boutiques, some in foreign countries, in order to keep them from being regulated.

One of the unsung heroes in this history is a man named David Venemon who worked at a couple of Narconon clinics, became disillusioned, and then smuggled out some key information to researcher Mary McConnell and the website “Reaching for the Tipping Point.” The Underground Bunker was also a beneficiary, as we were able to write stories, for example, about the scripts that Narconon recruiters use because of the documents Venemon got to McConnell.

Just recently, Venemon began speaking publicly about his role at Facebook, and we told him we were really interested in what he went through. Here’s the conversation we had.


David: Where to start. I was first prescribed Adderall when I was just about to go into the last year of middle school, so 8th grade. I quickly became addicted and abused it until I was about 26. One day I came home and my family staged an intervention, all through Narconon Southern California, I think that’s what it was called then. My sister did most of the research and my entire family really liked how the program was presented to them. They chose to send me to Rainbow Canyon Retreat, the center in Caliente, Nevada, because I enjoy the outdoors and all that stuff. They also felt that a center in a city was a bad idea. The intervention went well and the next thing I know I’m on a plane for Las Vegas and then a 2.5 hour drive to the center. That was 2008.

The Bunker: Did any of your family have any involvement with Scientology at that point? Were they aware that Narconon was Scientology?

David: No, not at all. At that point, as most families, they just wanted to send me somewhere.

The Bunker: You at least had a supportive family, even if they didn’t know what they were getting you into.

David: I grew up in a military family and everything. Leave it to Beaver America.

The Bunker: So when did they start to realize that they’d sent you to a Scientology facility?

David: My first day off detox, when they allowed me to call my family, I told them that L. Ron Hubbard was everywhere. My mom got upset but said she was desperate. When I was done with my program that October they paid another $10,000 for me to stay and do the internship.

The Bunker: Take us through the experience.

David: At first my experience was OK. Since I was addicted to Adderall, of course I thought I could still get it. I remember we got to the lodge after 10 pm and I had no idea where I was. The Scientology stuff — the light objectives and locationals — “seemed” to help but it was strange. It wasn’t until I got to the course room that I saw Hubbard’s name on anything. But as I moved through the program I started noticing that some of the books are set up from the beginning to get you in the mind frame of working there. Like you owe them something. So much shady stuff went on. Then they told me my parents had already paid for the internship and didn’t want me to go home. I felt like I had to stay there. I liked working there at first, but then you start seeing the stuff they hide from the students and families. Then I went to work in California at the Fresh Start headquarters, and that was the final straw.

The Bunker: Where was that headquarters in California?

David: It was first on the top floor of a mall, I think it was Burbank or Glendale. Then we moved across the street on an entire floor that they spent a few months renovating. I don’t remember the exact address but we were walking distance from The Way to Happiness headquarters. I was in a video of testimonials they filmed there. Larry Trahant, his wife Carol, they all had their offices there. Cat Savage and Mary Watts. There was even a guy named Chuck who worked as a volunteer in the course room who said he actually worked with Hubbard coming up with the detox rundown. He told stories of running in wetsuits in the desert. I didn’t know any way to verify his stories.

The Bunker: So tell us more about Trahant.

David: Trahant was an interesting guy. Before we became Narconon Fresh Start I had not really heard of him. His office had all kinds of Church of Scientology certificates on the wall. He was the executive director, and his wife Carol did public relations stuff. He was a totally used car salesman. He could sell ice to Eskimos.

The Bunker: How did you come to arrive in California?


David: I had been working at the center in Caliente, Nevada for a long time. I was starting to grow frustrated and wanted to do more. Also, living in the middle of nowhere was brutal. I figured I would be with Narconon for a few more years and wanted to make money. Registrars make a 10 percent commission of the cost of the program. They were looking for people to go to California and work in the Registrar’s office. So I asked if I could go. We did training in a staff course room, we had meetings and a lot of drills. After about two months they put me on the phone. There was a script that was written by Chris Bauge that we had to follow. I tried to be as honest as I could be. If people asked, I told them that Narconon did use the tech by Hubbard.

The Bunker: What else did you tell people who called?

David: The story was that we worked in a general call center and we would transfer them to someone who worked for Narconon, the main registrars. We were only allowed to do full calls on people who didn’t have good money resources or weren’t in a good part of the country, based on zip codes and area codes. For example, if my parents called from a 480 area code, which is Scottsdale, Arizona, it went right to one of the best regges.

The Bunker: And did the work suit you?

David: I didn’t like the job, the lying or anything. I had gotten a few people into the program, but none of them ever really went well. One day I was on the phone with a single mother who had a minimum wage job, no family, no resources. She didn’t own a house or car, but her son was addicted to drugs and was having a lot of other problems. I followed the script the best that I could, but she didn’t have any way to pay $30,000 for a program. So I gave her info for free state and local programs. I think she was from somewhere in the South.

The Bunker: In other words, you did the right thing.

David: Well, I knew Narconon recorded and monitored all phone calls. You couldn’t see when someone was listening to you, but other people could who were on the call board. I didn’t know that my call was being monitored by Mary Watts, who was the Qual Supervisor. I was asked to come to Chris Bauge’s office. I walked in and he was there along with Mary, and he ripped me a new one. He said that I had not done enough, and that basically I had given this kid a death sentence. Narconon, our program, was the only thing that could save him or anyone. But again, there was NO way this mom could do that. She just wanted help for her son short of him going to jail. I was very upset. I actually went down to the parking garage and cried. I called my mom and she wanted me to come home, but I was still not thinking clearly. However, something snapped at that moment.

The Bunker: You were just a call-taker on the periphery. How did you manage to get access to such important files after you became disillusioned?

David: The computer that I used had all kinds of things. None of us newbies were given new computers to use, they had all belonged previously to another deputy executive director. It still had everything on it: KRs, Ethics conditions, CSWs, stuff from the church — so much stuff.

The Bunker: Jackpot.

David: At our our morning meetings we would talk about the groups out there that were against us. The website “Reaching for the Tipping Point” was one of them. I remember thinking that Narconon just had to be stopped, we weren’t helping anyone. The success rates are lies, so many lies. So I reached out to them, and I was put in touch with Mary McConnell. I copied everything, uploaded them and sent them to her. She told me that she would go through everything and sit on it for a bit. I also sent her copies of the training books we used. The scripts, I mean.

The Bunker: Those scripts were killer.

David: I know, right? I would talk to her on and off. Then I got sick and told them I couldn’t do it anymore. They sent me to Warner Springs for months. I did an ethics cycle and got back on staff lines. Eventually I made my way back to Nevada. But I took that picture of Trahant’s plaque in the meeting room in California.

The Bunker: That photo of the plaque was huge. It showed the direct tie between Narconon and Scientology recruitment.



David: When I was back in Nevada, they were talking about how someone was leaking stuff. Mary told me that she had released everything. I was scared at first but again, time passed. We would always talk about it at the meetings. I would pretend to be shocked that someone could have done that.

The Bunker: Then what happened?

David: I was working with graduates again and I got a call from Gerry Marshall. He wanted me to put together a spreadsheet and fly out to California to present it. The centers always padded the success rates. We all did. No one wanted an ethics cycle or to get in trouble or have Ian Confer come out. So I put together a good spreadsheet and flew out there. But I knew in my gut what it was about. While I was waiting at the airport I called and asked our receptionist if she knew anything. She told me that phones had been ringing all day. They knew that I had leaked some photos. I told her I had, and she said she was proud of me but to be careful.

The Bunker: How had they figured it out?

David: The photo of the plaque. You can see my reflection in it. They had figured out who it was.

The Bunker: And so Trahant confronted you in California?

David: I went into the meeting with him. And I could tell not everyone must have known what I did because some of them were excited to see me there. But then I was taken to Larry’s office, and that’s where he told me that I would probably die because I committed this overt. To this day I don’t know if they really ever knew how much I had given Mary.

The Bunker: Sounds like a hell of a guy. Did you take it as a threat?

David: No, not really. He said that by doing such a huge wrong, all my “dynamics” had gone out and I would die. It didn’t sound pleasant but not like a threat.

The Bunker: And since then, have they harassed you?

David: Once I was involved in that lawsuit with attorney Ryan Hamilton, they actually had people following me to and from work and then waiting outside my parents if I went somewhere. They followed me all the way to a friend’s house in South Scottsdale. Then in the morning they went back down there to look for me. I found what hotel they were at. It was just down the road from my parents.


The Bunker: How long did that go on?

David: It lasted for about three days. Friday, Saturday, and a Sunday.

The Bunker: Creepy.

David: Yeah. Plus it worried my mom to death and really upset my friend. I kept hoping they would have followed me while working, but it was just from work and then they left. When I got off work they would be there.

The Bunker: Well, we’re really glad you’ve come forward now to get some recognition for what you did. Those things you brought to the public really mattered.

David: Thanks. It means a lot to hear that.


Bonus items from our tipsters

Meanwhile, in Canada…



Source Code

“Everybody is a southpaw earlier on the track, and they’ve shifted over in desperation to the right hand. Well, this southpaw in space opera came about — para-Scientology — came about where the individual carried his gun on the left-hand side of the body and drew it and used it with the left hand (the blaster and so forth). And you’ll find that people are very, very unwilling to use their left hands. They just don’t want to — don’t want to use that left hand and — because it kills people. Just as simple as that. And when people get killed their emotional kickback and so forth, is telegraphed through on the back blast and it makes one feel bad and one goes on down Tone Scale on a — on the overt act-motivator mechanism.” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 17, 1953


Overheard in the FreeZone

“The Time psy-ops are numerous and depend for their full force on implants which are intended more than anything else to disrupt a beings sense of Time. They are how a being’s reality is destabilized so that further implanting can even take hold at all. The dark occultists (the whole track implanters) have always known this and they have always used this. They are definitely using it now, and this century’s movies and books are far more geared to disrupt your innate sense of Time itself, than you may realize.”


Random Howdy

“I’m still amazed considering the subject of this forum when I read folks wondering about the efficacy of homeopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic medicine etc. People, assume everything’s a scam or magical thinking and work it back from there.”


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

[Jenna Elfman, Giovanni Ribisi, and Greta Van Susteren]

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 tried to ruin her. Now, Sylvia DeWall has a message for her former friends and family.
[TWO years ago] On tonight’s ‘Leah Remini,’ reality star Mimi Faust takes on Scientology’s harm to family
[THREE years ago] Scientology finally uses trillions of years of wisdom for something useful: The perfect burger
[FOUR years ago] When Scientology makes you a villain, you understand that it rules its members by fear
[FIVE years ago] Scientology leader David Miscavige gets in just under the wire in NAFC lawsuit
[SIX years ago] Starting Today: Jefferson Hawkins Helps Us Get Our Scientology Ethics In!
[SEVEN years ago] Texas Blues: David Miscavige Forsakes The Largest State in the Lower 48
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Mailbag: We Hear it from Church Members


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,600 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,729 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,233 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,753 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 773 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 664 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,971 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,839 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,613 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,387 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,733 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,299 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,218 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,386 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,967 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,228 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,267 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,979 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,505 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,031 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,594 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,734 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,054 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,910 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,029 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,384 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,687 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,793 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,195 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,067 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,650 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,145 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,399 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,508 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on October 17, 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, 14 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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