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Scientology is denied an emergency hearing, but here is its ‘arbitration’ motion

[David Miscavige is trying to force Valerie Haney into ‘religious arbitration’]

Yesterday morning, our man Jeffrey Augustine was on the scene as Scientology was denied its request for an emergency (“ex parte”) hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court.

Judge Richard J. Burdge Jr. denied Scientology’s request to drop everything (on the day before Christmas Eve, no less) and consider its motion to force Valerie Haney into “religious arbitration.” The judge ruled that the motion could be considered at a normally-scheduled hearing on January 30.

Jeffrey tells us there were a couple of Scientology attorneys at the courtroom, but they went away empty handed.

“As I was online yesterday morning checking traffic before I left, I realized that I had grown so accustomed to going to criminal court for Scientology matters that I had to remind myself this was a civil case in a different courthouse,” Jeffrey told us. We completely understand his confusion.

Valerie Haney filed her civil lawsuit this summer (read the amended complaint here), alleging that after serving Scientology leader David Miscavige for years as his personal steward, she was then held against her will at Scientology’s secretive Gold Base near Hemet, California because she knew too much about his personal life. She eventually escaped the base by hiding out in the trunk of a car driven by an actor visiting the base, a wild scenario that was described on the first regular episode of the third season of Leah Remini’s A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath.


After she escaped, Valerie became Remini’s assistant, and filmed the episode. And as a result, she alleges, Scientology subjected her to a ferocious “Fair Game” campaign of harassment and intimidation, which included smearing her online. She’s suing various Scientology corporate entities including the Church of Scientology International (CSI) and the Religious Technology Center (RTC, Scientology’s nominally controlling entity), as well as its leader, Miscavige.

As their first response, all of the defendants challenged the service of the lawsuit, calling it “fraudulent” and, except for Miscavige, asking for sanctions. That is still to be heard by the court. But in the meantime, Scientology suddenly asked for the emergency hearing, saying that it intended to file a motion to compel Valerie to stay the lawsuit and submit her grievances to “religious arbitration,” and then, 60 days later, to file an anti-SLAPP motion, which would accuse Valerie of trying to bully the church into silence with her lawsuit.

We now have the motion to compel arbitration filed by RTC on Friday.

Scientology is attempting to repeat the success it had with a very different lawsuit, filed in January 2013 in a Tampa federal court by a California couple who never worked for the church but were “public” Scientologists, Luis and Rocio Garcia, who alleged that they were defrauded when they were told lies by the church in order to convince them to hand over hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. Scientology successfully argued in that case that because the Garcias had signed numerous “religious” membership contracts, those contracts compelled them to take any grievances to Scientology’s internal “religious arbitration” — even though in the church’s 65-year history it had never held a single such arbitration, and even though former top officials like Mike Rinder testified that he’d helped create the contracts and called them a sham intended to keep members from obtaining refunds. Judge James Whittemore swept away those concerns, stayed the lawsuit, and forced the Garcias into Scientology religious arbitration, which took place in October 2017 in Los Angeles. The Garcias called it a kangaroo court and refused to accept the $18,000 the arbitration panel awarded them. They are now appealing Whittemore’s ruling.

With that win under its belt, Scientology is citing it as it attempts to force Haney into the same situation, even though her case is very different. (And as we reported earlier, Scientology has notified plaintiffs in another lawsuit, based on rape allegations against Scientologist actor Danny Masterson, that it will also attempt to force at least some of those plaintiffs into arbitration as well.)

In its motion (which you can see below), Scientology says that it has dug up various examples of contracts Valerie Haney signed as a Sea Org employee for both RTC and CSI, and that her work as a steward (serving Miscavige’s meals in his private rooms, for example), qualified her as a “minister” and so therefore protects her work for the church under the legal concept of the “ministerial exception.”

This is how Scientology gets around labor laws with employees who work around the clock for little or no pay, and for employing children under extreme conditions. Laura DeCrescenzo, in her recent lawsuit, testified that she’d worked 90-hour weeks for little or no pay when she was 12 years old. But Scientology pretends that every child doing menial labor at its compounds are “ministers” and so labor laws don’t apply.

Here’s a sample footnote from the motion, for example:

[Haney] acknowledged in her Staff Covenants with CSI that her ministerial service to the Sea Organization was pursuant to religious obligations, and not for traditional commercial or financial motives and that she considered herself a volunteer, not an employee and as such not entitled to minimum wage or overtime compensation.

But that’s just par for the course with Scientology: It says it can treat employees however it wants because they’re religious volunteers, not workers subject to labor law, and there’s nothing a court can do about it.

And then it gets even more Orwellian. The contracts that Valerie signed included language that any conflict or grievance that she came up with, no matter when, could never be heard in a court of law but should instead be submitted to religious arbitration.

Scientology then anticipates the arguments that Valerie’s attorneys are going to make, that such a contract should be considered “unconscionable” because no one should sign away their rights to a day in court when they’ve been literally held against their will, subjected to surveillance and harassment, and smeared online in an attempt to destroy their reputation.

Ah, but there you would be wrong, Scientology says. The court simply is not in a position to decide if the contract is unfair or unconscionable because Scientology’s religious rights under the First Amendment prevent the court from even looking into that question.

The Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment, and similar provisions of the California Constitution, prohibit this Court from imposing civil concepts of due process when adjudicating disputes between a church and its members. Indeed, a church’s procedures for addressing such disputes is all but unreviewable.


And even if the court could look into the conscionability of the contracts, Valerie knew what she was doing when she served in the Sea Org and can’t cry about it now that she’s left…

Plaintiff chose repeatedly, over decades, to serve CSI and RTC and be governed by the ecclesiastical rules of her religion. And then, when she no longer wanted to serve, she left. While she may now express regret, the conscionability of the agreements she made to pursue her religious desire are measured at the time she made those commitments.

But that shouldn’t even come up, because the court is prohibited by the constitution to meddle with how a church treats its employees…

The First Amendment gives religions great freedom in how they chose to conduct ecclesiastical court proceedings. This Court may not impose civil procedures on ecclesiastical courts, or find ecclesiastical procedures “unconscionable,” because they do not mirror the procedures used in commercial arbitrations.

So, RTC attorney Matthew Hinks says, the court should knock down Valerie Haney’s lawsuit and force her to submit to the church’s panel of three Scientologists in good standing to decide whether she’s been harmed by their leader, David Miscavige, with all of the unseemly things the church has said about Valerie in an ongoing and vicious online campaign.

Justice, Scientology style.

Here’s the motion…

Haney v. Scientology: RTC m… by Tony Ortega on Scribd


Bernie Headley, 1952-2019

In case you missed the sad announcement yesterday evening, our friend and hero Bernie Headley died yesterday at 67. Please take a moment to look over his story, which we republished last night.


Bernie’s determination to fight cancer and stay alive in the hopes of being reunited with his daughter, who had disconnected from him in the usual Scientology way, inspired us to create the tribute to people missing loved ones because of that toxic policy which you see at the bottom of every post here at the Bunker.

Bernie was a remarkable and loving man.


Continuing our year in review: The stories of April 2019

April started off with some news about the man who had been shot and killed by police at Scientology’s Inglewood org in March. He turned out to be Brian Statler, 30, and we took a look at his social media footprint. But very few of our questions about the incident have been answered.

Chris Owen brought us a story we’d never heard before, about Scientology’s attempts to make inroads in, of all places, Papua New Guinea.

The next day we posted a broadside by Scientology champion Jeff Pomerantz, urging his fellow church members to “rehabilitate this dirt ball.” It proved very popular with our readers.

Early April saw the return of Scientology’s Writers of the Future gala, and this time we remarked on how people like science fiction writer Orson Scott Card help Scientology forward its aims by fronting for the event. In fact, he even posed for a photo with Emily Jones, who has become something of a symbol for Scientology disconnetion.

As part of our ‘Scientology Lit’ series we posted an excerpt from Paulette Cooper’s 1971 book, The Scandal of Scientology, and it included a stunning quote from L. Ron Hubbard about how to cover up allegations of a teenage Scientologist being raped. When some readers involved in the Danny Masterson case saw it, they told us it could become evidence in that prosecution. Paulette Cooper, still raising hell after almost 50 years!

On April 10, we revealed that a tipster had smuggled us Scientology’s secret playbook for world domination. It’s wild!

Graham Berry helped yet another person who was overwhelmed by Scientology’s extortionate financial policies. This time it was a man named Sean Henderson, and Graham shared with us the demand letter he sent the church.

It was also in April that Leah Remini sent us a photograph from her collection that shocked us: It showed her around the year 2004 with Shelly Miscavige and Barbara Ruiz, two women who were powerful officers in the Church of Scientology until they were made to disappear. When are people going to get sufficiently outraged by Scientology vanishing women for something to happen?

Chris Owen graced us with another deep dive, this time into Scientology’s commitment to operating like an intelligence agency.


The next day we had a fun historical document, Arte Maren’s official church spin on the 1977 FBI raid of the church.

And the day after that we had the pleasure of announcing that Chris Owen’s book ‘Ron the War Hero’ had been rewritten and was getting a proper launch from Silvertail Books.

On April 23, we interviewed Sunny Pereira about one of her strangest and most wonderful Scientology experiences: When Brad Pitt brought his ailing pet iguana in for some treatment at the Hollywood Celebrity Centre.

The 20th anniversary of Denim Day (supporting sexual assault victims) in Los Angeles produced a wild scene: Scientology operative Taryn Teutsch and Danny Masterson’s accusers got into a confrontation, and we had video.

And we ended the month by noting that Elisabeth Moss had once again snowed a publication about her Scientology involvement. So we asked a couple of former church members, what would you like to see reporters ask the actress?

A LOOK BACK AT APRIL 2018: Chris Owen found that L. Ron Hubbard tried to buy Malawi. Leah Remini was subjected to a Scientology “noisy investigation.” We chatted with the convicted felon who says he’s the returned L. Ron Hubbard. Tommy Davis showed up with a new look. Kim Poff was finally able to give us an interview about getting fired by Oklahoma for blowing the whistle on Narconon. Rocker Cedric Bixler-Zavala told us about the harassment his wife Chrissie Carnell Bixler was going through after coming forward as a victim of Scientologist actor Danny Masterson.

A LOOK BACK AT APRIL 2017: Scientologist actor Erika Christensen raised eyebrows for playing a Christian convert on film. We dug up a reference to ‘Mount Xenu’ in a Hubbard lecture. Dee Findlay schooled the Clearwater city council. A 1973 documentary featuring Nan McLean resurfaced.

A LOOK BACK AT APRIL 2016: David Miscavige was filmed opening an Ideal Org in Atlanta. Phil and Willie Jones put up a billboard in Los Angeles about Scientology disconnection. We revealed that Giovanni Ribisi’s daughter Lucia Ribisi had ditched Scientology. The Gregg Hagglund story — seeing a Fair Game operation from both ends. How David Miscavige ripped apart his own family, and how Lisa Marie Presley became (at least for a short time) his biggest nightmare. David Miscavige threatened to sue his own Dad, and we were live on the scene as Laura DeCrescenzo’s lawsuit survived a second motion for summary judgment. Was this the greatest single month for news in the history of the Bunker? It was certainly up there.

A LOOK BACK AT APRIL 2015: We broke down the elements that made SNL’s parody, ‘Neurotology,’ so great. We brought you full audio tapes of police interviews with the Scientology private eyes who stalked Ron Miscavige. And we dug up the true history of Tom Cruise and Mimi Rogers.

A LOOK BACK AT APRIL 2014: We checked with his tailor to find out David Miscavige’s actual height. Tax documents spelled out Scientology’s amazing cash value. And an insider provided us documents showing that Narconon Arrowhead is running on fumes.

A LOOK BACK AT APRIL 2013: Live-blogging Rock Center‘s Narconon expose, behind the scenes at Int Base with “Love in the Time of Miscavige,” and Narconon in Georgia raided.

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


April 5: Phil Jones
I get a little sad inside whenever I see photos of the kids, knowing we may never see them again. Scientology claims they have no policy of disconnection. This is why I always refer to it as a ‘practice’ of disconnection. It doesn’t matter if they have a policy on it or not as they certainly practice it with abandon. In all likelihood there are probably very few of those still in Scientology who don’t have some friend or loved one who they’ve had to disconnect from. Scientology’s incredibly widespread practice of disconnection shows their inherent cruelty and lack of value of family. Willie and I recently moved back to Canada. We now live in the same town, just a few miles from where my Scientologist brother and sister live. I’ve driven by the house. I can’t go on the property. My sister would likely call the police for me just being there.

April 12: Mat Pesch
As gross as the criminal actions taken against Sean Henderson are, they are just the tiny, tiny tip of a much larger criminal scene within Scientology that has existed for decades. Some of the scams are large like the Freewinds selling hundreds of people OT 9 & 10, taking in tens of millions of dollars, when it never existed and still doesn’t exist 30 years later. Old ladies have been pressured for days, at hours at a time and even slapped in the face, to get them to sign over a LARGE inheritance. I saw a family get straight up, ripped off, of $150,000. I’ve seen credit card records in the “church” used to randomly run cards without the card owners knowledge. I’ve seen extreme pressure and lies used to take huge amounts of money from people as the NORM. That is Scientology. It is the BIG, BAD, BULLY that corners others into a corner and lies, intimidates, and pressures others to give up their savings and credit card limits. Scientology has the lawyers, religious protection and muscle to get away with it. The police don’t want to hear “church” problems, victims don’t have the resources to fight back and are convinced they are responsible and have no recourse. It’s great to see that Graham Berry is helping some of the victims but the situation is so HUGE that it will take someone like the FBI to step in, if this is ever to be given the attention it needs.

April 18: Geoff Levin
I was around during that period and the church’s spin on the FBI raid was so low key us Scientologists knew very little about what actually happened. Hubbard was constantly painting the picture of a world filled with SPs who wanted to bring him and Scientology down. Hubbard convinced us that the worlds “only” salvation was a cleared planet. And we all bought it. So spying on the evil IRS made total sense to us. Arte Maren’s spin on being whistle blowers has some truth to it as there was government abuse going on. However there was nothing altruistic about his front group. It was only there to deflect focus on the church’s criminal activity’s and further Hubbard’s dream of a world run by Scientology. And as always, crimes could be committed if it was for the “greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics”. Meaning good for Scientology. As Tony said, nothing has changed with the organization. As a result Miscavige is the captain of a sinking ship. Every day it springs another leak.

April 19: Michael Leonard Tilse
I announced my departure from the cult of Scientology on April 19, 2003. 16 years ago. I remember that in my research I had come across Chris Owen’s information about Hubbard’s WWII war record, along with an epic analysis of his wildly inflated stories of his trips to Asia. All key to lifting the Hubbard fog.

April 26: Mark Foster
I’ll never forget one of my earliest “what the fuck?” moments in Scientology: I was coming out of a course and getting ready to leave and one of the old die-hards asked me how I was doing and I told her that I was tired. She YELLED at me, telling me that I was a THETAN AND THETANS DON’T GET TIRED!!! Spooked me the fuck out back then, but I kept going back, chasing that euphoria… Now, that comment makes me laugh! That’s one hell of a cult, I tell ya!


Leaked document of the day

From the Valley Org documents release comes this item.

As the Scientology World Turns: There’s nothing really significant about this “Knowledge Report” except for the searing look into the snitching culture of Scientology, and the way these advanced Scientologists gripe.


Valley KR (Redacted) by Tony Ortega on Scribd


Source Code

“You’ll find that there’s a hollow spot in back of the body. And if you will let one of those hollow spots — at least, there’s at least one — if you’ll let it say ‘hello’ backwards, you know, have a spot in back of the body say ‘hello’ backwards, you will discover some of the more interesting spaces. You get why that is? A thetan has always come in on the body on the back, you see, and nobody has ever said ‘hello’ to him. There’s quite often a machine pulled in there, which is one of the more interesting things you run into with this process. Big, big juicy machine with valves, tubes, endless belts and every other thing.” — L. Ron Hubbard, December 24, 1954


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Disconnection is an individual’s choice. Yes, Ethics might encourage someone to do it, but at the end of the day it’s the persons who do it, who are to accept responsibility for it and not blame the church with the ‘following orders’ excuse. I don’t blame the church when my friends in the church disconnected from me. I blame them and their inability to confront the truth, and also just that they were happy with the church and I’m cool with that, it was their personal decision to disconnect from me, not the church’s. But I just don’t like it when people blame big organizations for actions they do. For example, it wasn’t Hitler’s fault for the holocaust, it was the SS soldiers who did it. They believed in the cause, they wanted to do it, they thought what they were doing was right, they should take responsibility for it and should be blamed for it.”


Random Howdy

“‘If all Scientologists were John Travolta clones, Scientology would be a good deal.’ I’m not sure the Massage Association of America would agree with you on that one, Jimmy.”


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] We got a correspondent into Scientology’s New Year’s Event Saturday in Los Angeles
[TWO years ago] Year in review: In April, Dee Findlay delivered a truth bomb to Scientology in its spiritual mecca
[THREE years ago] A Christmas Eve treat: Our man Down Under on Scientology’s antipodean troubles in 2016
[FOUR years ago] Release the hounds! Scientology suddenly getting more aggressive with media: Report
[FIVE years ago] As Luka Magnotta is convicted, questions about his Scientology involvement remain
[SIX years ago] The Underground Bunker Year-in-Review starts today: A January for the ages!
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s 2012 in Review: Springtime for Miscavige
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Succession: Commenters of the Week!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,797 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,301 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,821 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 841 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 732 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,039 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,907 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,681 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,455 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,801 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,367 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,286 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,454 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,035 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,296 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,334 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,047 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,572 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,099 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,662 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,802 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,122 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,978 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,097 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,452 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,755 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,861 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,263 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,135 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,718 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,213 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,467 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,576 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on December 24, 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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