Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Graham Berry shares a Scientology secret with us that might explain everything

[Graham Berry shares some thoughts on Valerie Haney’s lawsuit]

We’re still getting our feet back under us after a festive holiday, but we thought we might take a look at the current status of the lawsuits facing the Church of Scientology as we start 2020.

In particular, we have a new document in the Valerie Haney lawsuit, and we asked for attorney Graham Berry’s thoughts on it.

He did even better than that and pointed out something to us that really knocked us for a loop.

But let’s review the situation. Valerie initially filed her lawsuit on June 18 and her amended complaint on September 30, alleging that she’d been held against her will at Scientology’s Gold Base in California and then, after escaping from the base in the trunk of a car and going public, was subjected to a frightening retaliation campaign that included an attempt to smear her reputation online. She’s suing several Church of Scientology entities and its leader David Miscavige, alleging kidnapping, stalking, slander, and other counts.

Scientology’s first response was to object to the way it was served notice of the lawsuit, claiming that the service was “fraudulent” and, except for Miscavige, asking for sanctions. But then the Church of Scientology International (CSI) and Religious Technology Center (RTC) filed motions to compel Haney to drop her suit and force her into “religious arbitration,” a strategy it was previously successful with in the case of a California couple, Luis and Rocio Garcia, who sued Scientology in 2013 in a Tampa federal court.


(Scientology has also indicated that it will seek to force at least some of the plaintiffs in another lawsuit, regarding allegations of violent rape by Scientologist actor Danny Masterson, into religious arbitration. Masterson himself asked for more time to respond, and his attorney has signaled that he will file a demurrer, an objection to the lawsuit not on its facts, but that it does not state a proper legal claim. Some lawyers characterize a demurrer as responding to allegations, in this case four women saying they were violently raped and then subjected to a campaign of harassment, as the defendant essentially telling the judge, “so what”?)

We told you previously about RTC’s motion to compel Valerie Haney to submit to arbitration. Now we have CSI’s, and they do have some interesting differences since they were written by different lawyers.

CSI’s motion was written by attorney William Forman, who has also been handling some Narconon lawsuits for Scientology. He’s asking for a January 29 court date to hear the motion to compel (RTC’s motion is scheduled for January 30).

Like RTC, CSI says Valerie signed multiple contracts (“written warranties,” Forman calls them) as a lifetime Sea Org member, and promised not to sue the church but submit herself to Scientology’s internal justice system if she had any grievances. And because this is a religious matter, the US courts have no jurisdiction in the internal dispute, CSI argues, citing the legal concept of “ministerial exception.” Because Valerie was a “minister” (even though she was actually a steward, serving David Miscavige in his private quarters), the church can ignore normal labor laws and things like minimum wage or overtime pay.

One thing we found very interesting in CSI’s motion is that it makes quite clear that the Sea Org billion-year contract is not merely symbolic, as Scientology tells reporters when it’s asked about it…

Sea Org members form the dedicated core of the Scientology religion and dedicate themselves to the Sea Org for a billion years. This term reflects both their dedication to their religion and their awareness of themselves as immortal spiritual beings who have lived countless lives and who will live again and again.

There you go, and it’s in a court document: Yes, Sea Org members really do sign billion-year contracts and are expected to fulfill them, and it’s not simply a symbolic gesture.

But Valerie Haney had second thoughts about working for David Miscavige, and Forman does his best to make it sound like the church is the aggrieved party after she decided to leave. Just listen to what a villain he makes Valerie out to be…

When Plaintiff resigned from the Sea Org in 2017, she signed a departure agreement, by which she again relinquished right to bring suit against the Church in civil courts and affirmed that disputes, whether existing or in the future, were subject to religious justice arbitration procedures. The Church gave her a check for $4,500 as consideration for the departure agreement. A week later, Plaintiff cashed it. Plaintiff then became a professional critic of Scientology, working as a paid assistant on an anti-Scientology cable show. She now sues the Church over the subject matter covered by her agreements with the Church — her 20-year service in the Sea Org. But Plaintiff’s repeated agreements prohibit her from proceeding with this lawsuit.

After working for the Sea Org for 20 years for essentially no pay, she cashed the $4,500 severance check they gave her, can you believe it? And then she went on an anti-Scientology cable show. The nerve!

Like all Scientology legal documents, the real audience here is David Miscavige, and we’ll be interested to see how this kind of over-the-top melodrama plays with an actual jurist, which in this case is Judge Richard J. Burdge Jr. of the Los Angeles Superior Court.

So far, the only indication we’ve had was Judge Burdge denying Scientology’s request to have the arbitration motions heard in an ex-parte, emergency hearing on December 23. The judge turned down Scientology’s request, saying he couldn’t see any reason for an emergency, and will hear the motions instead on Jan 29 and 30.

Another thing we learned in CSI’s motion was that it was Scientology attorney Gary Soter who had made sure Valerie signed a final agreement when she escaped from the base and then came back a few days later to “route out properly.” She then subsequently went to work for Leah Remini and began filming her episode of ‘Scientology and the Aftermath.’ That’s when Soter let her know she was in violation of the document he’d watched her sign…

Mr. Soter informed Plaintiff that she was violating the confidentiality and non-disparagement terms of her agreements….Plaintiff responded by falsely reporting to the State Bar that Mr. Soter had told her that he was her attorney….The State Bar closed the investigation after receiving Mr. Soter’s response.


This is the first we’ve heard that Valerie filed a Bar complaint against Soter. We can certainly understand why. We still vividly remember Scientology attorney Elliot Abelson taping himself having Debbie Cook sign a draconian agreement that she said in court testimony she would have signed no matter what it said just to get out of there. We really can’t blame Valerie for filing a complaint against Soter if he put her through a similar experience.

As for Valerie’s allegations that she’s been smeared and stalked by the church since she began to speak out about her escape, CSI argues that the contracts she signed in the Sea Org still govern because the dispute arises out of her employment.

It does not matter that some of Plaintiff’s causes of action arose after she left the Church. She agreed to arbitrate “future” disputes with the Church, and is bound by that agreement.

Also, many of our readers have raised questions about the parallel with the Garcia case because the Garcias sued over financial fraud — Valerie is suing over kidnapping, stalking, and slander. How could arbitration be appropriate for such a case?

But Scientology argues that the case for forcing Valerie into religious arbitration is actually “much stronger” than it is for the Garcias because Valerie was a Sea Org member and not merely a “parishioner.”

In other words, Scientology figures it owns Valerie for the next billion years and there’s nothing the courts can do about it.

We asked attorney Graham Berry for his thoughts on the document, and he zeroed in on Gary Soter’s participation (which Soter spells out in a declaration that CSI filed with its motion).

“Soter’s declaration apparently deals with the pre- and post-escape contracts that Haney signed,” Graham tells us. “In my opinion the scope of the ‘ministerial exception’ and inviolate religious arbitration provisions is too wide.”

Scientology, he says, is getting away with having its workers sign away their rights without having enough information about what’s going on.

“There needs to be full disclosure, the advance supply of copies of the contracts to be signed, the opportunity for outside advice, and informed written consent when the new parishioner, staffer, or Sea Org recruit joins the Scientology pseudo-conglomerate,” Graham says.

Then, he pointed out something interesting about Forman’s firm, Scheper Kim & Harris, which is defending CSI.

“One member of the law firm is of interest: Richard Drooyan. He has a stellar resume,” Graham points out.


[Richard Drooyan]


And Graham has some history with him, it turns out.

You may remember that Graham Berry represented a psychiatrist named Uwe Geertz who was sued for libel by Scientology as part of its legal offensive following Time magazine’s epochal 1991 Richard Behar cover story that called Scientology “The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power.” It’s a long story, and we’ve gone into parts of it before, particularly about Geertz’s client, Steve Fishman, who was also sued by Scientology.

Eventually, Scientology dismissed those lawsuits, and Graham and his client emerged victorious. But along the way, they had amassed an incredible amount of material about Scientology and its bad behavior. So, once the case was over, Graham says he took that material to the Chief of the Criminal Division of the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Richard Drooyan.

“I provided him with a file box of interesting declarations and other documents implicating Scientology in a wide range of alleged criminal activity,” Graham tells us.

“Nothing came of it. He later informed me that the Department of Justice did not have the resources to take on the Church of Scientology.”

The Justice Department, unable and unwilling to take on Scientology? That would explain a lot.

After Graham told us this last week, we emailed Drooyan.

We reported to him what Graham had said, asking for his reaction. And we told him that we were hoping to speak to him as a former Department of Justice prosecutor on his “feelings about being part of a firm that is now defending the Church of Scientology International in a case alleging kidnapping and slander.”

We’ll let you know if he gets back to us.

Here’s CSI’s motion to compel arbitration…

Haney v. Scientology: CSI&#… by Tony Ortega on Scribd



Source Code

“As I used to be president of the American Fiction Guild author’s league up in New York, when I was a kid — that’s right, I was a kid — it was very funny to me, I used to laugh myself silly, all of the confession stories written in America are written by unmarried ladies who have reached 40 or 50. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being an unmarried lady reaching 40 or 50. This is perfectly fine. But how come all these confession stories? Yeah, that’s interesting. Because it was out of the current lifetime’s field of experience. I realize now they were writing about past lives, that they were picking it up Whole Track and just putting it in modern dress. But they didn’t know what they were writing about, basically, in this lifetime.” — L. Ron Hubbard, January 2, 1960


Overheard in the FreeZone

“The evil intention of Pelosi and her Democrat followers is there to be as-is and vanished by the Indie OTs and scientologists/ex-scientologists.”


Random Howdy

“Alex Jones and L. Ron both became millionaires by selling people crazy. The $64,000 question is whether it was (A) a cynical scam (B) they’re both insane (C) all of the above.”


Start making your plans…

Head over to the convention website and meet us in St. Louis!


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] One dead in stabbing at Scientology’s Australian ‘Advanced Org,’ 16-year-old taken into custody
[TWO years ago] Scientology’s original case of ‘disconnection’ — L. Ron Hubbard and his doting mom and dad
[THREE years ago] David Miscavige has plenty of new Scientology buildings set to open in 2017
[FOUR years ago] Scientology’s 2016: CNN plans to give L. Ron Hubbard his best press in decades
[FIVE years ago] LEAKED RENDERINGS: What Scientology’s (post-KCET) new media center will look like
[SIX years ago] THE TOMMY DAVIS DEPOSITION: Scientology asks judge to reconsider forcing Miscavige deposition
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology Brings Hope to Africa!
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology in 2012: Mark Bunker and Mike Rinder Give Us a Preview of Enturbulation To Come


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 1,805 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,309 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,829 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 849 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 740 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,047 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,915 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,689 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,463 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,809 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,375 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,294 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,462 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,043 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,304 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,342 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,055 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,580 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,107 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,670 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,810 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,130 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,986 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,105 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,460 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,763 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,869 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,271 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,143 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,726 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,221 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,475 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,584 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 2, 2020 at 00:00

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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email