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Even after ‘arbitration’ victory, Scientology still snowing the court in Garcia appeal

[Luis Garcia and his attorney Ted Babbitt on the Aftermath]

Scientology’s final word in the complex appeal and cross-appeal of the Luis and Rocio Garcia fraud lawsuit was filed this week, and now the matter is in the hands of the U.S. Eleventh Circuit.

We have the document for you and we’ll be interested in what you have to say about it. But we just want to warn you that Scientology is off in the weeds arguing about jurisdictional details that have nothing to do with what has made this case so important and interesting.

Namely, that Tampa federal judge James Whittemore ruled that because the Garcias had signed “religious” membership contracts that had them promising to take any grievances to Scientology internal “religious arbitration,” then his hands were tied and he couldn’t even consider the Garcias’ claims that they had been lied to and defrauded out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. As a federal court judge, Whittemore ruled, he simply couldn’t consider the justice of the internal rules of something that called itself a church.

Whittemore put the lawsuit on hold and forced the Garcias to submit to Scientology religious arbitration, which took place in Los Angeles in October 2017, and which the Garcias described as a kangaroo court. (They turned down the arbitrating panel’s finding that they should be paid $18,000 of the hundreds of thousands they were asking for.)

In their appeal, the Garcias are asking a higher court to find that Whittemore erred, and to overrule his decision and restore their lawsuit. Scientology may call itself a church, but signing a contract shouldn’t keep a former member from getting their day in court if the church caused them real harm, the Garcias argue. (And as we’ve seen recently, Scientology is trying to use this precedent against other litigants, trying to force them into religious arbitration over grievances as serious as rape and kidnapping.)


Scientology disagrees and wants the appellate court to uphold Whittemore’s decision, but they have their own gripe with Whittemore, and that’s why this latest filing is so strange.

Scientology is cross-appealing and wants the court to rule that Whittemore should have thrown the Garcia lawsuit out even before he forced them into religious arbitration. And it’s based on a complex argument about jurisdiction that essentially comes down to Scientology, once again, trying to snow American courts about how it’s set up and how Scientology is run.

Ask any former Scientologist who spent any time in the vast hierarchy’s upper reaches, and they’ll tell you there’s simply no question: All of Scientology’s many far-flung entities, most of which are very secretive, all exist to serve at the pleasure of leader David Miscavige. An obsessive micromanager who rules all of Scientology as a ruthless dictator, Miscavige is fully in charge. But when the heat is on Scientology, it always pretends the opposite, that Miscavige is a distant, “ecclesiastical leader,” and doesn’t have time to obsess over details. And as for those entities, they have independent boards in various locations.

We remember when the Garcias first filed their lawsuit in January 2013 and they, like so many other former church members who have filed litigation against Scientology, took pains to inform the court that Scientology’s alphabet soup of subsidiaries is a setup that is specifically intended to throw law enforcement off the scent and to confuse judges and prosecutors.

In this cross-appeal, Scientology is once again pretending that the various entities that the Garcias accuse of ripping them off were independent and had nothing to do with each other, and some jurisdictional issues about which ones were based in Florida and which were based in California should have been fatal to the Garcia lawsuit to begin with, and they argue that Judge Whittemore erred by allowing the Garcias to sidestep those issues unlawfully.

To draw an analogy, this is like a football team, in the fourth quarter of a close game, throwing the red flag because it wants a play in the first quarter to be reviewed and overturned. It’s a dick move.

But that’s our reading. Give it a look yourself and let us know what stands out to you. We don’t know if the justices of the Eleventh Circuit will take up this jurisdictional stuff with much interest, but we are very much looking forward to a ruling on the issue of whether Judge Whittemore was right to say he couldn’t examine Scientology’s contracts because of their “religious” nature.

Here’s the document…


Garcia v. Scientology Appea… by Tony Ortega on Scribd


Continuing our year in review: The stories of March 2019


March began with grim news: Adam Holland, a former Canadian Sea Org member who had come forward to protest Scientology in 2009, took his own life. He was only 30. We later published a heartbreaking letter he had written about his mother, a loyal Underground Bunker reader who had died after their reunion.

We then heard from another man, Anthony Reid, who told us that the abuse he was put through from the Church of Scientology made him suicidal. It’s almost as if this organization that claims to have answers about mental health doesn’t know what it’s talking about.

On March 11 we described a fascinating document found by researcher R.M. Seibert, describing a settlement that Scientology was trying to foist on the US government in 1986. But the government didn’t fall into that trap, thanks largely to an associate deputy attorney general who today is, strangely enough, president of the New York Yankees. Seriously!

In Florida, Scientology held its annual birthday party for founder L. Ron Hubbard, and in photos of the event posted by the church itself, we found evidence that Tom Cruise and John Travolta had been front row center, something we haven’t seen for many years.

On March 18, Sunny Pereira told us her account of when Lisa Marie Presley brought Michael Jackson down to the Hollywood Celebrity Centre. Juicy!

Historian Chris Owen was back with a gritty look at the elements that came together to create Scientology’s Snow White Program of the 1970s.

Scientology held its LRH Birthday event in Los Angeles (where they show video of the actual shindig in Clearwater), and we managed to have a correspondent on the scene.

We obtained and published a copy of the Clearwater Police Department investigation of a bizarre attempt to sabotage an episode of Leah Remini’s series.

On March 23, we featured an excerpt from the new memoir Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley by artist Carol Es.

The next day, we had our scoop of the month: A testimonial by Tom Cruise’s daughter Isabella extolling the benefits of Scientology auditor training that was sent out to members of the London org. It was proof of what we’ve been saying for years, that Tom’s two older children, Isabella and Connor, are fully dedicated to Scientology, regardless of what some tabloids are selling to the contrary.

The Aftermath Foundation uncorked its beauty of a fundraiser when it revealed that it was selling Mike Rinder bobbleheads. What a clever way to respond to Scientology, which had created a Rinder bobblehead in one of its smear videos.

Then, a bizarre tragedy: A man drove up in a white Bentley to Scientology’s Inglewood org, and then reportedly threatened people with a samurai sword until police fatally shot him. But nearly a year later, we’re still waiting for the police to put out even the most basic information about this case, including the reason the man went to the org, why he was driving a new white Bentley, and what the man was so upset about.

Scientology’s desire for a large Narconon drug rehab in Maryland was finally denied, but we have a feeling they’ll be building a smaller facility or in some way get around the rules.

And one of our correspondents, a photographer in Los Angeles, provided us with a telling look at a day in the life of a Valley Org body router. With the org itself a dead zone, the older gentleman looking for raw meat was handing out fliers outside a popular local coffee shop.


A LOOK BACK AT MARCH 2018: Scientology TV finally debuted, and featured David Miscavige in a short monologue. That same night, Leah Remini asked ‘Where’s Shelly?’ on the Aftermath. Arnie Lerma shot his wife in the face and then turned the gun on himself. And we learned that Kirstie Alley had achieved OT 8.

A LOOK BACK AT MARCH 2017: Scientologist actor Danny Masterson was under investigation for multiple rapes. Joy Villa mulled a run for Congress. We caught Marty Rathbun helping his old nemesis, the Church of Scientology, in a court case. We traced Marty’s dramatic arc from Scientology critic to Scientology attack dog. Leah Remini turned out to have helped finance the Scientology/NOI dance. Kuba Ka charmed us in a lengthy interview. And Reza Aslan laid an egg.

A LOOK BACK AT MARCH 2016: Attorney Ken Dandar dodges a million-dollar bullet. Tabatha Fauteux’s boyfriend tells us what really happened in her death while training for Scientology’s Narconon network. Belgium blows its prosecution of the church. And the saga of former Scientology helper cop, Skip Young.

A LOOK BACK AT MARCH 2015: Federal Judge James Whittemore hamstrung the Garcia fraud lawsuit with a stunning ruling, we dug up even more evidence that L. Ron Hubbard used the threat of “R2-45” to intimidate former church members, Paul Haggis gave us his thoughts as Alex Gibney’s Going Clear debuted on HBO, and we got to hear Sylvia DeWall being declared an SP while it was happening,

A LOOK BACK AT MARCH 2014: John Travolta mangled Idina Menzel’s name at the Oscars. We interviewed Russell Miller as his book Bare-Faced Messiah came back in print after 27 years. Jillian Schlesinger told us her gripping story of escape from the Sea Org.

A LOOK BACK AT MARCH 2013: We had fun with SMERSH Madness. We leaked Sea Org life histories. Narconon Arrowhead CEO Gary Smith lost his professional certification.

Five of our favorites from the most-upvoted comments of March 2019

March 4: Geoff Levin
Anthony [Reid], I went through very, very similar experiences. Fortunately my depression and 24/7 suicidal thoughts went away after I saw that it was Scientology that was the problem, not me. This is a heartbreaking story that I experienced, including being bedridden, reclusive, agoraphobic and suicidal. I was in Scientology for almost 50 years. And a total true believer. What helped me was learning the truth about Scientology in detail. My initial information came through Tony. And I am ever grateful that I stumbled upon him when he was at the Village Voice. And I think there are so many exes who can relate to your situation. When I was in my depression I felt I would NEVER get better. That’s false IMO. For me deprogramming was a huge part of it. I am rooting for you. There a many wonderful exes and never-in supporters. Know you are not alone.

March 6: Phil Jones
The Anthony Reid and Adam Holland stories hit pretty close to home for me. I drove past my sister’s house this morning, wanting to stop in and say hello. My brother lives there as well. I knew I couldn’t go on the property or in all likelihood my sister would call the police on me for just being there. Both my brother and my sister are hard core into Scientology and fully disconnected from me. I haven’t seen or heard from either of them for some years now. This is what Scientology does.

March 15: Panopea Abrupta

The principal reason for all the big names and celebrities coming out [for the LRH Birthday event] is because they are ALL aware of the resounding impact of three seasons of Leah Remini and Mike Rinder on A&E. Scientology and the Aftermath has put the sabre-tooth tiger among the vultures. I feel it in my bones. They may not have the guts to watch it. They may try to go “Rah Rah Rah” and pretend it’s not there. But the evidence will penetrate even the most impermeable of vacuum-packed clam shells. Stats crashes must have been horrendous.

March 18: mockingbird
I think David Miscavige dreamed of tying Scientology as a brand to Michael Jackson’s brand. If he was successful at getting people to think that Michael Jackson’s success and style were representative of Scientology that would have been invaluable to Scientology. David Miscavige could have promoted Scientology to entirely new publics and possibly boomed Scientology to never before seen levels of size. It is likely he was willing to role the dice on the allegations against Michael Jackson and see how that played out. If the charges disappeared or were brushed under the rug, maybe with a settlement including no admission of guilt and a nondisclosure agreement, then Michael Jackson could have been used. If the scandal grew too much then Michael Jackson could have been cast aside. Fortunately like Elvis Presley before him Michael Jackson rejected Scientology.

March 22: Mighty Korgo of Teegeeack
Leah Remini is doing more harm to Scientology then anyone in the cult’s sad history. She is like Smersh, the Bank of England, Interpol, and Xenu all rolled into one BUT REAL! Scientology was once bad-ass, kicking around a young Paulette Cooper. Today, they are pitiful. Shudder into Silence my big, hairy butt. A hero is not someone who gets hurt. It is someone who (knowingly and at will!) places themselves in harm’s way for the greater good. When the special displays are put up in Clearwater of the people who brought Scientology to their knees her photo will be next to the entrance way. My deepest thanks.


Leaked document of the day

From the Mace-Kingsley Ranch documents release comes this item.

Your 15-year-old is hanging with the wrong kids and is caught smoking and drinking? Ship them off to a desert Scientology hellhole. It’s the only solution.


EO Mace Kingsley Ranch 9 February 1996
Administrative Director

Renaissance Academy La Canada

[Name redacted]

[Redacted] who is now 15 years old, enrolled in Renaissance Academy in September of 1995. After testing it was found that she had a 4th grade math level and a 6th grade reading level. She was put on a remedial program and tutoring was suggested.

The first indication of anything awry was on October 22nd. [Redacted] went out with 3 other girls from Renaissance academy. They ended up getting drunk on Vodka and Wine Coolers and one of the 3 girls was rushed to the Emergency Room for alcohol poisoning due to the outrageous consumption of alcohol. [Redacted] was suspended from the school for about 2 weeks at that time. She re-did her PV&I course, did lower conditions on her 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dynamics and did an O/W write-up. She came back to school after all of this ready to do Liability on the 3rd. She did this, was accepted back into the group and continued on.

Ten days after being back in the school, [redacted] and 4 other R.A. students were caught smoking on a field trip. They were at a movie with the Upper School when they “needed” a cigarette. They walked out the side door of the theatre, smoked and then re-entered the theatre. All wrote KR’s on anyone that they knew of that had been smoking, including any earlier times concerning themselves that were unknown to the school.

On January 2, 1996, the first day back from the Christmas break, it was discovered by other students that [redacted] and 4 other students had been drinking alcohol on Dec 30th. One of the kids passed out and had to be wheeled around in a shopping cart. One of the other kids went into Hughes Supermarket and stole a “Lunchable” and the Police were called. The parents were called, and an agreement between the kids and the parents was made that they wouldn’t inform the school. They would handle the situation themselves due to the threat of the students being expelled from the school.

All of the students involved were called into the office, the incident was addressed individually. [Redacted] was informed that she was being expelled from the school as well as all of the other students involved in this incident. The Parents then came and individually picked the students up from the school.

This is true


Source Code

“Every language has a basic word for ‘accept’ and a basic word for ‘reject’ which allows for no argument. Whereas they do have differences on such a thing as ‘associate.’ Look what Freud did with ‘associate.’ I’m being awfully hard on the old man this morning. There’s no reason to be hard on the guy, he actually was the entering wedge into psychotherapy. But I’m young and cocky and I didn’t have to write ‘Psychoanalysis: Terminable and Interminable.’ I didn’t have to write that. I will never have to write something, now, I know very well, called ‘Dianetics: Terminable or Interminable.’ Apathy, apathy. Imagine a guy beating the drum, beating the drum all those years, having to sit down and write that essay. This was one of the last essays he wrote. He knew he had failed before he died, which is the saddest thing that can happen to any man.” — L. Ron Hubbard, December 23, 1954


Overheard in the FreeZone

“I think us Scios need to look after our bodies and live longer as there’s a bit of a problem with div 6 in the Scientology world and until we have a healthy influx on new bodies into Scientology regularly, until the div 6 problem has been handled, we are going to have to make sure the bodies we’ve got are around for as long as possible. Like til you’re 120, no joke, and I actually expect more than that. This is vital for Scientology ATM. So to do this there are great supplements available, I take: Astaxanathin, Niacin, Reishi tea (so happy I can drink a supplement, so good), Alex Jones’s DNA Force, White Powder Gold and Resveratrol. Just a bit of this stuff everyday forever will stop the body from ageing….Our bodies have been designed to age and die, they’ve been programmed to by SPs, well we can get around this. Intelligent, awake people need to live as long as possible. This is no negotiable unless you want to get a new body sometime soon which might be right for you, but for the rest of us, we aint gonna die and we are gonna make Scientology a game for many more.”


Random Howdy

“One of the few things I appreciate about the cult is their retro-ness.”


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

[Alanna Masterson, Terry Jastrow, and Marisol Nichols]

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’s smear machine hurting your reputation? For $1,500 they can help with that.
[TWO years ago] A look back at the month when all hell broke loose for Scientology and Danny Masterson
[THREE years ago] LAPD needs two more weeks to respond to Leah Remini about missing wife of Scientology leader
[FOUR years ago] Scientology’s 2015 in review: In March, HBO went Clear while we eavesdropped on Flag
[FIVE years ago] Scientology hit with 25th lawsuit by Las Vegas attorney as he goes after Florida rehab
[SIX years ago] Scientology’s mecca wants you to come to Florida and run circles around a pole
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s 2012 in Review: Debbie Cook Makes Us Remember the Alamo
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology on the High Seas: Yuletide Cheer, Including Dickens Adapted with Evil Psychs
[TWENTY years ago] Double Crossed (The Graham Berry story)


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,796 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,300 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,820 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 840 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 731 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,038 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,906 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,680 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,454 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,800 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,366 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,285 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,453 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,034 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,295 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,333 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,046 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,571 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,098 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,661 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,801 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,121 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,977 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,096 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,451 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,754 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,860 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,262 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,134 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,717 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,212 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,466 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,575 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on December 23, 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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