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


VIDEO: See Danny Masterson’s initial court appearance on rape charges

You’ve seen descriptions of Danny Masterson’s first appearance in court on rape charges, but here’s a chance to see what it was like for yourself as we present the video recording of the hearing that took place Friday in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, the most interesting stuff wasn’t caught on tape: Masterson’s large entourage clogging up the hallway outside, for example, causing the court to scramble and delay the hearing a couple of hours so deputies could figure out how to accommodate attendees from both sides while maintaining social distancing.

And also missing is the rant from Masterson’s defense attorney, famed litigator Tom Mesereau, who denounced the case as politically motivated and asked Judge Miguel Espinoza to keep cameras out of the courtroom.

Mesereau claimed that he was just trying to prevent a “circus-like atmosphere” being created by the press, which was rich, coming from the party that had brought a couple dozen onlookers and throwing the court into a quandary.


Anyway, Espinoza refused Meserau’s request and the cameras began rolling.

(What you also won’t see in the footage is a corner of the room that cameras purposely avoided, where two of the three women who accuse Masterson of raping them were sitting with Leah Remini and her assistant Valerie Haney. Leah was chosen as the support person for victim Chrissie Carnell Bixler, whose husband rocker Cedric Bixler-Zavala was home taking care of their twins.)


[Judge Miguel Espinoza]

The That ’70s Show actor and Scientology celebrity is facing 45 years to life for allegedly raping three different women in incidents in 2001 and 2003. (See Friday’s curtain-raiser for a breakdown of the individual allegations.)

Friday’s hearing was scheduled for Masterson’s arraignment, when he would enter a plea of not guilty. But he took the uncommon step of filing a demurrer at this stage, trying to get the charges against him dismissed even before he enters a plea.

While demurrers are somewhat common in civil litigation, they are rarer in criminal cases, and particularly at this early stage. Why? Well, one reason is that they are expensive and most criminal defendants can’t afford them. On Saturday, we published Masterson’s 10-page demurrer in full, and it’s a document that clearly took Mesereau and his co-counsel, Sharon Appelbaum, considerable time to put together. How much did that cost Danny?

Consider that in another case we’re watching, when Valerie Haney filed a motion asking a judge to reconsider a ruling, Scientology’s two attorneys claimed that producing a 30-page opposition to Haney’s motion had cost the church $160,000. And neither of those attorneys, William Forman or Matthew Hinks, have the national stature of a Tom Mesereau.

You’ll see in the video that Judge Espinoza sets a briefing schedule for the demurrer, which will have the two sides back in court on October 19. He also explains to Masterson what he’s prohibited from doing under a protective order that was granted to the women accusing him. As part of that order, Judge Espinoza gave Masterson, an avid gun collector, 24 hours to turn in all of his firearms and ammunition to law enforcement. (We’re told this is unusual because Masterson hasn’t been convicted of anything yet.)

Masterson’s side also wanted a protective order — aimed at the press. But you’ll see prosecutor Reinhold Mueller argue that the proposed order submitted by Masterson’s attorneys was “grossly overbroad,” as it tried to prevent any evidence from making its way to the public. Also, he pointed out that the motion was premature because it made some assumptions about evidence in the case, when prosecutors had only turned over descriptions of their evidence to the other side that morning.

Espinoza rejected Masterson’s proposed protective order, reaffirmed Danny’s $3.3 million bond, and then adjourned.

Here’s the briefing schedule he gave the two sides as they prepare to do battle over the demurrer: Mueller has until Oct 2 to submit the government’s opposition, Masterson then has to reply by Oct 9, and Mueller can submit a sur-reply by Oct 15.

In the demurrer, Masterson is arguing that the rape allegations from 2001 to 2003 are past the statute of limitations, and grouping them together under California’s “One Strike Law” to have him facing 45 to life in prison doesn’t extend the statute of limitations when there are no aggravating factors. But as Mueller pointed out, when Masterson submitted his demurrer, his side hadn’t seen the evidence that the prosecution has, which it only revealed Friday morning. And from our own reporting we know about very significant aggravating factors — Victim B will testify that Masterson brandished a firearm as he raped her, for example, and a witness we’ve interviewed said he saw Masterson and a friend coercively carrying Victim B upstairs after she tried to escape.


But who knows. Maybe Danny’s pricey and early roll of the dice will pay off. We’ll find out soon enough.

Here’s the video. We’re looking forward to your observations of Danny’s day in court.



March 3, 2017: LAPD probing Scientology and Danny Masterson for multiple rapes, cover-up
March 8, 2017: Danny Masterson: Victim C gets support from a veteran actress
March 11, 2017: Scientology made Danny Masterson’s Victim B search past lives to explain being raped
May 9, 2017: Masterson hires Michael Jackson criminal defense attorney Tom Mesereau in rape probe
Nov 2, 2017: Read the threatening letter Danny Masterson’s attorney Marty Singer sent a victim’s husband
Nov 26, 2017: EXCLUSIVE: Scientology interrogated Danny Masterson and accuser, didn’t notify LAPD
Apr 27, 2018: Strange days for a woman accusing Danny Masterson of rape — and for her rocker husband

July 8, 2018: Masterson witness fears for safety as investigation drags on and on
Nov 30, 2018: LEAH REMINI: Los Angeles DA Jackie Lacey, do your job already
Jan 22, 2020: Cedric Bixler-Zavala blames Scientology for poisoned dog he had to put down yesterday
Feb 3, 2020: Here’s Scientology actor Danny Masterson’s legal response to his rape accusers
Feb 10, 2020: Another dog poisoned: Bobette Riales says harassment worse since suing Scientology
Feb 26, 2020: SEVENTH victim comes forward to LAPD accusing Scientology actor Danny Masterson
Feb 29, 2020: Amended complaint filed against Danny Masterson with new stalking allegations
March 14, 2020: Danny Masterson’s victims speak out in sworn documents in lawsuit against Scientology
May 4, 2020: Masterson: Drop me from Scientology lawsuit if the ‘Jane Does’ won’t name themselves
June 19, 2020: Records show that Danny Masterson is a woeful Scientologist — would he turn on the church?
June 23: 2020: The key thing about Danny Masterson’s ‘DJ Donkey Punch’ nick is why he stopped using it
Sept 18, 2020: Scientology celeb Danny Masterson to be arraigned today for raping three women
Sept 19, 2020: Read Danny Masterson’s ‘demurrer’ he’s hoping will get his criminal charges dismissed


Leah Remini podcast: The fair gaming of Steve Cannane

Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue to focus on people who have been the target of Scientology’s slimy Fair Game campaigns with an episode this week dedicated to Australian journalist Steve Cannane, seen here in a photo with your proprietor at our HowdyCon celebration in Denver three years ago.

If you were fortunate enough to be with us, you will remember that we asked Cannane to speak at our Saturday event, and he used the occasion to respond to the sliming he’d just received from Marty Rathbun, who was once again doing Scientology’s dirty work with a set of slick videos he put out beginning that year. Rathbun took shots at Cannane’s definitive book on Scientology in Australia, titled Fair Game, ironically enough.

Steve is still taking shots over his excellent book. We’ve told you recently about the strange defamation trial he went through in Sydney, a lawsuit that would never happen in the U.S., as Cannane was asked to prove allegations in a royal commission he quoted from that had taken place 30 years earlier. Testimony in the trial has concluded, and Cannane is awaiting a verdict.

Have a listen as Leah and Mike talk with yet another person who has paid the price for telling the truth about Scientology.



Source Code

“One day I was doing some processing on a Theta Clear and I had just lit a cigarette. And the Theta Clear was running this and running that, and trying to straighten himself out on this and change postulates on that and so forth, and all of a sudden the body sort of went rigid for an instant. And the Theta Clear must have been up in the corner or something of the sort, and the ashtray was out of my reach on a concrete floor, very slippery floor. And the ashtray was out of my reach and I had my cigarette and I was about to light it and I was looking around for an ashtray. And the ashtray came over, bzzt!, and I dropped a match in it. The thetan was just being polite, that was all, and had never thought twice about it. And I said, ‘Thank you,’ and the person became very confused. Because this person wasn’t up at the level where they were supposed to see or supposed to be or supposed to do things like that yet, you see?” — L. Ron Hubbard, September 22, 1952



Overheard in the FreeZone

“Scientology’s name has been injured badly by the church. We need to reverse that. Also, with all of the corona restrictions all over the world, almost no one is progressing up the bridge. This has harmed the Free Zone like never before, especially with actions done by the church. Scientology WILL grow outside of the church, but it depends on how much volunteer time we are all going to put into it. L. Ron Hubbard managed to hold all those years because of people that have decided to devote a lot of hours a day for his technology and for it to work, so why aren’t we doing the same?”


Random Howdy

“Scilon is a play on ‘Cylons,’ the robotic invaders in Battlestar Galactica. It is particularly appropriate because Hubbard was a science fiction writer, and the top-seekrit ‘OT levels’ are based on the belief that we are infected with ‘body thetans,’ the confused, immortal souls of space aliens who became disoriented 75 million years ago when the evil space warlord Xenu brought them to Earth (or Teegeeack, as it was known then), dropped them into volcanoes and blew them up with nuclear weapons. ‘The Scilons tried to talk me into taking a Free Personality Test.'”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Demurrer filed by Masterson, arraignment delayed to October 19.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay’s sentencing is set for October 5 in White Plains, NY. Jeffrey’s is set for October 24.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Next pretrial conference set for Jan 12 in Los Angeles
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Motion for reconsideration denied on August 11
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Sept 29 (CSI/RTC demurrer against Riales, Masterson demurrer), Oct 26 (motions to compel arbitration)
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Update required in federal lawsuit on Oct 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Second amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, awaiting verdict.


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] Scientology is making plans for a Narconon drug rehab in the land of the rising sun
[TWO years ago] Get a look inside Nathan Rich’s unique book about his Scientology upbringing
[THREE years ago] Scientology’s tiger: How L. Ron Hubbard created a language trap
[FOUR years ago] ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ goes on sale as an audiobook on September 29
[FIVE years ago] Visualizing Scientology’s latest ‘Going Clear’ public relations disaster
[SIX years ago] New videos leaked from Scientology, including a sobering call for help from Nashville
[SEVEN years ago] The Scientology Guide to Craigslist
[NINE years ago] Scientology Overseas: More Bad News in Australia, Israel, and the UK


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 2,068 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,572 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,092 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,112 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,003 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,310 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,178 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,952 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,756 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,072 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,638 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,557 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,725 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,306 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,567 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,605 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,318 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,843 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,373 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,933 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,073 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,393 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,248 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,367 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,723 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,026 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,132 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,534 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,406 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,989 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,484 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,738 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,847 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 22, 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, 1995-2019 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2019), 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