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[Valerie Haney]

[BREAKING:] Jeffrey Augustine reports that Judge Richard Burdge Jr. has ruled in favor of Scientology, granting its motion to force Valerie Haney into ‘religious arbitration.’ The lawsuit is on ice, and the judge asked them to come back to report in April 2021.

Reports from Jeffrey Augustine in the courtroom…

— Motion to compel arbitration granted. Case stayed until completion of arbitration. This is the tentative ruling. Argument to follow.

— Haney team arguing against tentative ruling.

— Judge not buying the brainwashing argument. Haney’s team arguing undue influence and the inherently biased nature of Scientology arbitration.


— Scientology arguing contracts are binding for past, present, and future.

— Scientology attorney arguing that Val’s Sea Org membership is central.

— Judge: man with gun never made Val sign any contact.

— Judge rules that the tentative is final ruling. Val is going to arbitration. Parties will check back with court in April 2021.

Wow, we’re stunned.

Once again, a US judge has ruled that Scientology can do whatever it wants to former members — in this case allegations of kidnapping, stalking, and slander — as long as they signed contracts while they were members promising not to sue.

Obviously, this doesn’t bode well for the similar motions being heard in March in relation to the Danny Masterson lawsuit.

What a result.

[The story we posted this morning before the hearing…]

Today, three major lawsuits that were filed last year against the Church of Scientology will get their first big legal test at Los Angeles Superior Court, and our man Jeffrey Augustine will be there.

On June 18, Valerie Haney sued Scientology’s leader David Miscavige and two of the movement’s legal entities, the Church of Scientology International (CSI) and the Religious Technology Center (RTC). She alleges that as a Sea Org employee she worked as an indentured servant for more than 20 years, enduring countless degradations, and after serving as Miscavige’s personal steward was then unable to leave secretive Int Base in California because she knew too much about his private life. She ultimately had to escape by hiding in the trunk of a car. Since coming forward about her story on Leah Remini’s television show, she’s been subjected to a fierce and frightening campaign of “Fair Game” surveillance and harassment by the church, including smears about her sex life on websites operated by the church. She’s suing for kidnapping, stalking, slander and several labor law violations.

In December, CSI and RTC responded by filing an ex parte motion asking Judge Richard Burdge Jr. to hold an emergency hearing on the day before Christmas Eve to consider their motions to compel Valerie to take her grievances to “religious arbitration” and drop her lawsuit. Judge Burdge said he didn’t see any reason for an emergency and ruled that he’d hear the motions on January 29 and 30. Later the two sides agreed to combine CSI and RTC’s motions into a single hearing on January 30, which is today.


Judge Richard Burdge Jr.

CSI and RTC are also attempting to force into religious arbitration four of the five plaintiffs in a second lawsuit that was filed in Los Angeles by the same legal team. The national media is watching that lawsuit more closely because one of the defendants is Scientologist actor Danny Masterson — four of the plaintiffs are women who went to the LAPD in 2016 with allegations that the actor had violently raped them in incidents between 2001 and 2004, and they’re suing because they say Scientology has subjected them to a harassment campaign since coming forward. (The third lawsuit was filed in Miami by a woman who says she was sexually abused as a child while working for Scientology in Venezuela and Florida. Scientology has not indicated yet whether it will also move to have her case forced into religious arbitration.)

Valerie’s hearing is the first test of this powerful national legal team which includes former prosecutors, one of whom put Bill Cosby in prison. And how Judge Burdge rules on the question of religious arbitration will be watched closely by both sides as a similar hearing for the Masterson case will be held on March 27 in the courtroom of Judge Steven Kleifield, also at Los Angeles Superior Court.

Scientology is hoping it can repeat the success it had in a 2013 lawsuit filed by Luis and Rocio Garcia, a California couple who filed a federal lawsuit in Tampa alleging that they had been defrauded by Scientology when it lied to them in order to get them to turn over large donations. A couple of years into that lawsuit Scientology argued that because the Garcias had signed multiple “religious contracts” promising to take all grievances to Scientology’s internal arbitration, then US courts have no jurisdiction over what are essentially religious matters. Tampa federal judge James Whittemore agreed, and stayed the lawsuit. The Garcias are appealing his decision.

So now, after that victory, Scientology didn’t wait and filed motions to compel arbitration against Haney and the Masterson accusers rather quickly, and have argued essentially what they did in the Garcia case — that because Valerie signed religious contracts promising not to take the church to court, her lawsuit should be stayed and she should take her complaints to Scientology’s own internal brand of justice.

Valerie’s legal team answered with what appeared to us to be several strong counterarguments. A church’s religious rights didn’t extend to harming people with kidnapping or stalking, for example, and Scientology’s online smears happened a few years after she’d left the employment of the church.

Those arguments got a boost this week from an expert in religious arbitration, Pepperdine University professor Michael Helfand. Writing at Eugene Volokh’s blog, the Volokh Conspiracy, Helfand noted that Scientology’s arbitration arguments have a couple of vulnerable points.

First, in scope. Scientology is attempting to use contracts that the former Scientologists signed while they were still in the organization, and arguing that they still cover activity that is happening years after they left, such as Valerie’s harassment after she started working with Leah Remini. In the Masterson lawsuit, three of the women were Scientologists when they allege they were raped between 2001 and 2004, and yet Scientology says those agreements should still be in effect regarding allegations of harassment stemming from those assaults many years later.

“This seems like a tough sell, but is ultimately a question of contract interpretation,” Helfand wrote.

Helfand also suggested that Scientology’s motions are vulnerable because they insist that the arbitrators need to be members of the church in good standing, which clearly stacks the deck against former members like the Garcias — a point the Garcias themselves stressed in their case, to no avail.

Helfand said he thinks Judge Whittemore was wrong to decide against the Garcias on that point, and he suggested that Scientology’s requirement about arbitrators should disqualify its motion. “Granting the Church of Scientology final say over which arbitrators satisfied the ‘in good standing’ requirement is particularly problematic,” he wrote.

(Judge Whittemore not only disagreed with this, he helped the church find three arbitrators who were church members in good standing. We’re very interested to see what the Eleventh Circuit thinks about that.)

Given those criticisms, and what seem like strong arguments from Valerie’s team, we’re feeling somewhat confident that she’ll prevail today and that we won’t have a repeat of the Garcia case as Judge Burdge denies the motions by CSI and RTC and allows the lawsuit to continue. Of course, he might not issue a ruling today, and even if he does grant RTC and CSI’s motions, that still leaves the lawsuit against David Miscavige himself. So, several different possible outcomes today, and we’ll be looking forward to reports from Jeffrey on the scene. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 8:30 am Pacific time.

Much less important than the issue before the court today, but still rather interesting, is a side show that’s developed because producer Lisa Bartley at ABC-7, the local ABC television affiliate in Los Angeles, asked for and was granted permission by Judge Burdge to shoot footage of today’s hearing.

Lisa has a long history of excellent work covering Scientology. We met her in San Antonio where she covered the immensely important day of Debbie Cook’s testimony that convinced Scientology to drop its lawsuit against her. She was also in the courtroom shooting footage at a recent Medi-Cal insurance fraud hearing for Hanan and Rizza Islam, the only local media to cover that case that we’ve been reporting so vigorously for four years.


Yesterday, Scientology’s CSI and RTC filed an angry objection to Judge Burdge, claiming that he had approved Bartley’s request in violation of court rules which should have given Scientology a chance to speak against its approval, and that Bartley turned in her request a day late.

Also, they managed to slime Bartley, Valerie Haney, and Leah Remini in their opposition, claiming that ABC-7 covering the hearing was actually some kind of conspiracy between Valerie Haney and Lisa Bartley and it was related to Leah Remini’s show. Also, that any footage shown from the hearing might incite violence against the church:

The Church received hundreds of threats of violence or death as a result of the airing of the Remini television series, on which plaintiff was both an on-camera participant and credited as a crew member as Remini’s paid assistant. There have been numerous incidents of vandalism of Church property. One member of its religious order was murdered. There have been prosecutions of individuals threatening the life of the Church leader directly linked to Leah Remini, who plaintiff is the paid Assistant. A television broadcast of this hearing creates a foreseeable risk of future hate crimes.

Oh brother. Scientology already has enough of a challenge today trying to win its arbitration motions. Is it smart to risk angering the judge for telling him off that he shouldn’t have approved a simple request for cameras in the courtroom when it’s most likely going to be an impenetrable legal discourse between opposing attorneys and not very exciting television?

BONUS: As Jeffrey’s reports come in, we’ll be playing Scientology Lawyer Bingo, wondering which of the many high-priced attorneys show up today. A partial list that we will be curious to hear about:

William Forman for CSI and Matthew Hinks for RTC (they wrote the arbitration motions for their clients, so they’ll definitely be there)

Monique Yingling
Gary Soter
Kendrick Moxon
Eric Lieberman
Bert Deixler
David Scheper and Margaret Dayton (CSI)
Robert Mangels and Iman Wilson (RTC)

Jeffrey Riffer (Miscavige)
Andrew Brettler (Masterson)


[A Scientology lawyer scrum at a 2013 hearing in Texas]

UPDATE: Here’s the quote Valerie gave Mike Rinder after today’s decision: “A judge asking me to engage in a religious arbitration with a religion I escaped from and am no longer part of is a far cry from anything I had expected from a rational court. I’m not going away. I am not going to be shut down or shut up. The battle has just begun. All this does it harden my resolve to bring an end to the abuses.”

UPDATE: We just received this statement from Leah Remini…

Scientology hopes that today’s ridiculous ruling sends a message to the countless victims of Scientology, that they don’t matter, and it intends to convey to anyone thinking of exposing Scientology’s criminal behavior that they would also be subjected to a similar ruling — that they won’t win, that they will be further victimized by being forced into Scientology’s ‘religious arbitration’ to be judged by their abusers or those who subscribe to the same abusive practices.

But it doesn’t do anything of the sort.

It only strengthens the fact that we just have continue to fight to expose them.

However, I will comment on Judge Burdge.

His careless and callous judgement says a lot about him. Maybe he is not that bright, maybe he’s bored, maybe he doesn’t care about those who look to him for justice, maybe he is spineless. Maybe he is all of those things. It is my opinion that he is all of these things, but what do I know? I didn’t go to Yale.

But any crude and basic Google investigation into Scientology’s “arbitration” would find that it is a sham created by Scientologists to protect Scientology and Scientologists solely. It is not a body made up of an unbiased committee, but rather a committee of Scientologists who are taught to believe anyone speaking out against their abusive practices are criminals and should be utterly destroyed.


I only hope that his decision sparks those who believe in justice, make their voices heard here. And I do believe there are judges who don’t simply want to have these cases off of his or her plate, but rather believe it’s the victim who deserves their day in their court, and not to protect the bully, the abuser, the rapists, the child molesters just because they have the money and seem like a Goliath as with Scientology.

Well. Rest assured, I know Valerie and I know a lot of Scientology victims. And we know Scientology. The one thing they count on is people giving up.

They don’t know us too well.

This is what they count on, L.Ron Hubbard even states in his policies that the goal isn’t to win but rather to exhaust the individual into giving up.

A message to you all who are fighting this fight: DO NOT for one friggin’ second think of giving up. Remember why you started to disagree with the abuse you were receiving and giving as a Scientologist. Remember why you started going against Scientology policy and started to look for the truth. Remember why you said, enough is enough. Remember that it took a fighter to leave all that you were brainwashed to think and do. Remember how truly strong of you it was to leave and all that you loved. To those in the fight who were never in, you entered into the ring because you saw a corrupt organization disguising itself as a church, you had no dog in the fight but to do the right thing. Do not give up. We need you.

Remember in you does the fighter remain.

We now, having left this cult, have the truth on our side and we will persevere, and we will get there.

— Leah Remini


Source Code

“Had the most fiendish idea the other day. I’m going to write a science fiction story (I still do, you know). I got a wonderful idea of writing about a government scientist who goes mad, you see, and the security is so terrific that nobody can find out what he’s doing, see? Not even his own boss, because the security is so terrific, you know? And when he orders materials he can’t tell anybody in the materiel department what it’s for because, of course, it’s so secret. You see, his security is very great. And he goes ahead and he builds up this thing which makes space solid. See, space becomes totally solid. See? And then puts it over the light lines to all the government offices everywhere. And of course, all the space in all government offices, complete with personnel, gets totally solid. And the last person that’s left is J. Edgar Spoofer. And he tries to explain it to this guy, that this guy doesn’t have the right to go ahead and do this in any direction and that he’s going to arrest him. But the guy tells J. Edgar Spoofer, ‘But look, you’re supposed to safeguard security in the government. And it says right here that my work is under total security and all actions I perform are under total security, so therefore, you’re violating your own order.’ So J. Edgar Spoofer steps back and lets the entirety of the Department of Justice and his office get totally solid. And everybody lived happily ever after.” — L. Ron Hubbard, January 30, 1957


Overheard in the FreeZone

“LRH might have been part of Brit agendas, but his agenda sided with the white South Africans for the benefit of the blacks. His tape predicted and explained what is happening and is the key for correction not only on South Africa but also in the Middle East.”


Random Howdy

“If any kid ever needed a hickory switch it was L Ron Hubbard.”


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] Scientology targets Disney with anti-‘Aftermath’ rally, attendees number in the tens
[TWO years ago] A private eye comes clean: ‘Scientology is a disgrace to the world’
[THREE years ago] Putting back a family ripped apart by Scientology can be easier said than done
[FOUR years ago] L. Ron Hubbard’s magic chalk, and other Scientology miracles at the ’07 Birthday Event
[FIVE years ago] Another Secret Lives leak: L. Ron Hubbard enjoyed humiliating people under hypnosis
[SIX years ago] Jefferson Hawkins finishes off our series on Scientology ethics with a reprieve
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s Atlanta Drug Rehab Crumbling: Executive Director Mary Rieser Out
[EIGHT years ago] Death of a Scientologist: Why Annie Broeker, Famous in the Church, Had to Die in Secret


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 1,833 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,337 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,857 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 877 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 768 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,075 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,943 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,717 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,491 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,837 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,403 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,322 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,490 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,071 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,332 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,370 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,083 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,608 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,135 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,698 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,838 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,158 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,014 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,133 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,488 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,791 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,897 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,299 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,171 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,754 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,249 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,503 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,612 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 30, 2020 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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