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Truths about Nxivm leader Keith Raniere that his loyalists still refuse to face

[Keith Raniere, genius]

Dianne Lipson covered the Nxivm federal trial for us last year with detailed reports from the courtroom. In part, we wanted to watch the Nxivm prosecution closely to give us a sense for what it was like in case Scientology ever, someday, gets a close look by the government. And now that Keith Raniere has been sentenced, we wanted to get Dianne’s thoughts about it.

I was not able to be in court Tuesday to see Keith Raniere sentenced to 120 years in prison. Like many Nxivm observers, I knew this outcome could happen, but it’s still hard to process a sentence that is longer than a life. Federal prisoners are required to serve 85 percent of their sentence. Effectively, Raniere’s sentence is no less than 102 years.

In an interview with Frank Parlato, Raniere’s lawyer Mark Agnifilo said, “Cami’s gonna be it. She’s gonna take the house down.” He added, “I don’t want to get too much into the reason why, you know, I advise Keith, but I mean, assuming Cami is going to come to court, and she’s going to say, ‘This is what happened. I was 15. And he took pictures of me,’ I said [to Keith], ‘This is the worst possible time for us to bring up a tampering [motion]. You know, the allegation [of tampering] is right after Cami said, ‘It’s seared in my brain. He took pictures of me, I’ll never forget it’.”

As Agnifilo predicted, Cami did bring the house down. In court, Cami confirmed she was a 15-year-old virgin when the then-45-year-old Raniere raped her. This puts the lie to a claim by Nxivm loyalists that the nude photos of Camila found in a hard drive in Raniere’s study were tampered with. Camila stated, “He took naked pictures of me — the experience of being photographed is seared in my memory,’’

Survivors of high-control groups describe their experience as similar to battered wife syndrome. Camila got a double whammy of that because of their relationship, if you can call it that. I am taking a look back at the extreme and sadistic mental manipulation Keith put Camila through, even apart from her involvement in DOS, the master-slave women’s group that Keith secretly headed. Meanwhile, all the time that he was manipulating and controlling Camila, Keith had a harem of other women at his beck and call.

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Emails and text messages presented at the trial attest to the stages of Keith and Camila’s interaction. At first, Camila seems to unreservedly love Keith.

A message in 2009 from Camila to Keith reads, “Hello, my sweet lollipop. I really enjoyed your form tonight. You never cease to amaze me. It seems as if the more I love you, the more I admire you and am curious to get to know you. I like what I see in you. You have a brilliant mind and I think you know it, yet you possess a certain humility that I think everyone should aspire to. I admire what you do in the world and the strength that you do it with. I think you are an inspiration to everyone. I admire you as a character and deeply love you as my lollipop. Smiley face. Kisses, hugs and sniffles. VC.” [VC stands for “Virgin Camila,” Keith’s nickname for her.]

Raniere replied, “Lollipops love to be licked by very obedient slaves.”

A subsequent email suggests a young woman eager to please her boyfriend. “Want to get in a fight with me? I’m totally fine with you winning and I promise I won’t complain if you end up pinning me to the floor or the wall; hee-hee. I think I’m going to try to save these feelings, cravings — yes, they are the same thing — for some other occasion, if you know what I mean, wink face. Or maybe I just need a good spanking, I don’t know. What you think, Master? What does this good old VC mean? Okay, I’m getting way too into it. Let’s move on. I want to help you get healthy again. Today, and always, on the VC menu we offer walks, healthy juice, delicious pussy, lovely conversations full of XXX topics. I strongly suggest the pussy. It is light on the beaver and fresh out of jailbait grounds. Hopefully, you will have something nice to think about for the next hours and maybe days. Enjoy. Love, Slavey Slave.”

By 2010, Camila grows concerned about the direction the relationship was taking, especially the secrecy mandated by Keith. “Hey, hon, I’ve been thinking about us a lot. I prefer to talk to you in person, but I have no idea when you are going to call next and how long you are going to be able to stay on the phone. I’ve grown a little concerned about us. Your inconsistency would be alright, but now it is making me uncertain of all the things you’ve told me, and only me. . . I have nothing to show for this relationship, no proof, except what you have told me. . . . I am starting to feel like it is not healthy. Everything is on your terms.”

In a later email Camila writes, “I am hoping for a little more communication, if possible. It bothers me that you treat other acquaintances better or more personally than me. Just a thought.”

Keith makes a trademark response to this plaintive request from a lover who feels neglected, “I am under surveillance and parabolic microphone pick up everything whispered to me. Can you get a walkie-talkie and use extension 96. Opposite of? I will likely have some time today. Love.” Later Keith responded to a similar email from Camila by writing, “Hi honey, today is likely to be a very difficult day for it appears there are increased efforts to destroy my image, et cetera. I was just thinking of you as an oasis. Love and gadgets.” This was not unusual. Keith like to present himself to his followers as a brilliant and revolutionary thinker who had attracted powerful enemies among the establishment.

Keith took control of young Camila’s life. He stashed her into an apartment to isolate her from her family. She couldn’t get a haircut, or even shave her nether regions, without asking his permission. As he did with all his harem of women, Keith demanded that Camila keep to an extreme low-calorie diet. He wanted the 5′-5” Camila to weigh around 100 lbs. From an exchange in 2014:

Keith: How much do you weigh?
Camila: I don’t know. I think 120.
Keith: Why did you gain? You were 113?
Camila: Lack of exercise during intensives.
Keith: You then need to eat less…The extra weight hurts my heart physically when I am with you.

Again, this was not unusual. Keith asserted to the women in his harem that their extra weight had some sort of harmful metaphysical effect on him. The eating disorder that Camila developed was also an affront to him. In an exchange about Camila’s bulimia:

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Keith: Do you understand the importance of life of having a conscious?
Camila: Yes.
Keith: Do you understand conscious is having the capacity for great pain for bad decisions?
Camila: Yes.
Keith: Do you understand in order to have that you must consider others in your decisions?
Camila: Yes.
Keith: Like tonight, you did not consider how much your B {bulimia] would hurt me?
Camila: No.
Keith: That’s no conscious. Do you want to have no conscious?
Camila: Question mark.
Keith: You had no conscious tonight when you made the decision to B [bulimia].

Even when Camila had thoughts of suicide because of Keith’s isolation and control of her, Keith made it about himself.

Camila: You do know why I tried to kill myself, right?
Keith: Why?

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Camila: You said you are dead to me.
Keith: Yes, but even after that whole thing you didn’t choose me.

But at times Camila was no shrinking violet. She expressed her feelings by saying, “I’m angry that you disguised things as logical and righteous when sometimes they are just emotional and human. I’m angry that you crippled me for so many years and now use that handicap against me. I am angry that you made me believe in fairy tales and the blueprints when it is all a lie. I am angry that you moved your entire life and planned my life without my consent, and that all those things were your choice, but blame me for them when I didn’t even know what you were doing. I’m angry that because of you, I have no close relationships because I always had to lie to them about this other part of my life. I am angry that because of you I am such a good liar. [to preserve the secret of their sexual intimacy] . . . I am angry at you because you couldn’t see how being with me at such a young age was probably taking away from my life and opportunities. And I am just plain sad to learn that love is not that poetic something that is so deep and indescribable but, in fact, a trade. For so many years I forgot about the darkness. I thought the world was bright and beautiful and I’m angry that in the last few months I’ve contemplated suicide countless times and everything is done.”

The day came when Camila had sexual contact with another man. She had committed the cardinal sin: she had enjoyed it. Keith’s reaction was extreme.

Keith: That’s the worst news of all. His sperm and DNA should be disgusting and invasive. You should have want to do anything to love mine, to try to save what is left of a connection. Do you like his fluid more than mine?
Camila: Right now, neither.
Keith: Did you ever prefer his taste, et cetera, over mine?
Camila: Why do you want me to answer that?
Keith: Please don’t question me like this anymore. I can’t tell you the reasons. Please answer.
Camila: If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have chosen to be with him.
Keith: You chose to be with him because you liked the taste of his semen better? ? ???
Camila: No.
Keith: Then what do you mean?
Camila: But if I disliked it, I would have avoided it.

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Keith: I asked specifically about taste. Did you specifically mention to him you liked it??
Camila: I can’t remember.
Keith: I need you to.
Camila: Probably.
Keith: What did you like?
Camila: Seriously? I’m hesitant to share this with you.
Keith: I need everything. This is explicitly in the letter I wrote. For me to do anything more with you I need to know you want to tell me all.
. . .
Keith: I am examining perception. I know his penis is 6.75 fully erect and mine is 7.5, so I am looking at how you are slanting things.
Camila: What the fuck? How do you know that?
Keith: Likewise with intensity. You forget our passionate times and compare our day-to-day and in the last year I’ve been heartbroken and could barely function.
Camila: Why does this matter?
Keith: Maybe some day I’ll tell you, but guys know these things about each other.
. . .
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Keith: His is definitely not the width or length of mine. How are you going to fix this lie?
Camila: You haven’t been at your fullest in a long time. It isn’t a lie. [Here Camila reminds the much older Keith that he has been experiencing erectile dysfunction.]

Keith threatens to send Camila back to Mexico, which she begs him not to do, as she has no life there. He demands sacrifices of her, such as leaving the nanny job she loved. Since Camila had damaged her purity, he demands she find him another virgin, to be his successor. But he worries that he is not up to the challenge.

Keith: There are potential successors but they are so young. This creates several problems. Will I live long enough? Will they stay pure? Will they connect so deeply with me being so much older? Will I have the strength to put in the years once connected? Even if all that works, will any be viable? If so, will they remain true?

Camila reassures Keith as she now knows she must.

Keith: Three of the four candidates are so young in many ways. It will take years until they mature and then I will be even older and weaker. Doubtful I will be much of a candidate for them.
Camila: You would be, honey. Any of those girls would be lucky to have you.

In a later exchange:

Keith: How many attractive, not socially defective virgins would give their life to someone like me at my age?
Camila: Ummm, all of them? You are handsome, sexy, strong, gentle, loving, funny, talented, have a beautiful smile, eyes, loving touch. What woman wouldn’t want that? You know for a fact that they all want you.
Keith: Even an inexperienced 18-year-old?
Camila: Even an inexperienced 15-year-old.

In order not to be torn away from the only life she knows, Camila struggles to please Keith and wipe away the sin of her sexual contact with another man: As this exchange from December 2015 attests:

Keith: His DNA touched you and went inside you and was assimilated. Also, he has memories of your interactions and you have memories. All of those things need to be eliminated. If that could be, then maybe I would have the connection that was lost the very first time.

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Camila: How do I do that? I’ll do anything. I’ll eat shit. I’ll do anything.
Keith: I have told you, if you find another successor that is best for us, but time is running short.

Neither of them realized that time really was running short. In 2017, Frank Parlato revealed the branding of women in DOS, the secret women-only group within Nxivm that was secretly run by a man, Keith Raniere. The Mexican members left Albany amid the scandal and returned to their home country. Camila’s sister Daniela testified that Camila was offered an unusually large salary to continue working for Nxivm loyalists in Mexico as a nanny. Daniela testified that it looked like this promised salary never actually materialized. I believe it is not known when Camila finally defected from the group. But her victim statement shows she is still dealing with the lasting effects of Keith’s cruel manipulation. From the NY Post article linked above, “He robbed me of my youth. He used my innocence to do whatever he wanted with me. It has taken a long time for me to begin to process the trauma he caused.”

It seems counter-intuitive, but sometimes survivors of abuse process their trauma by bringing similar situations into their lives. Describing a syndrome that is all too common among survivors of abuse, Camila said, “Today, I still have trouble identifying the line between a normal relationship and an abusive one.’’

When I heard that Keith had been sentenced to 120 years, I was stunned. If I had been a victim of Keith, certainly I would be happy about it. But there is a reason why, in our system, crime victims don’t get to set the punishment. Murderers don’t get as long a sentence as Keith got. Judge Garaufis stated that Keith failed to demonstrate remorse and maintains that he’s done nothing wrong. I understand the judge’s reasoning on this. An unrepentant criminal is a danger to society. Yet somehow the length of the sentence doesn’t sit well with me. It feels like overkill.

The other question is where Keith will serve his sentence. There is speculation that Keith will be sent to a supermax prison in order to prevent him from running Nxivm, or what’s left of it, from the inside. He could still do damage. At MDC, Keith has been caught more than once with contraband cell phones.

Conditions inside a supermax prison are truly inhumane. “ADX itself has … become almost entirely a ‘lock-down’ facility in which prisoners are locked in solitary cells for all but a few hours a week,” Amnesty International said in a 2014 report titled “Entombed: Isolation in the U.S. federal prison system.” Prisoners at the facility wail for hours, self-harm, go insane.

Keith is a monster, no doubt about it. But quoting Friedrich Nietzsche, “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

— Dianne Lipson

 
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SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks, the series axed by Seven News

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In July the Australian Seven News network cancelled at the last minute a ten-part nightly news in-depth investigation of the Church of Scientology and its history of dirty tricks operations. All ten episodes were leaked to the Internet, and we (temporarily) posted embeds of the video segments and then collected all ten links in one place. Judge for yourself why Tom Cruise and Tommy Davis might not have wanted viewers to see this hard-hitting series by journalist Bryan Seymour.

 
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SCIENTOLOGY: FAIR GAME

After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.

 
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Source Code

“The fellow who has voices talking to him inside of his head is much better off than the fellow who has voices talking to him from way outside his head. Odd that psychiatry classifies people quite in reverse. People who have voices talking to them from the outside are sane and those who have voices talking to them from inside of their head are very often classified as insane. As a matter of fact, I read a paragraph in one of their innumerable, contradictory books which had to do with just that. It said that one could always tell whether or not a person was psychotic, because the spoken voices – the speaking voices and so forth – were invariably inside the person’s head if the person were psychotic. Couldn’t they face the idea that these voices very often come from outside?” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 29, 1953

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“Lawrence Wright is a regular ol’ average human being. He considers he is ‘Lawrence Wright,’ that body, with one life, in that body, living on a lone planet that spontaneously brought about that one life, in that one body, from a sea of ammonia, sometime in the last billion years or so, evolving along until one day, carbon and oxygen and hydrogen and a bunch of chemicals gave rise to his ‘consciousness’ as ‘Lawrence Wright.’ One day that will die and that’s the end. He’s convinced – or at least he’s pretty sure. In order to grasp Scientology, Lawrence would have to attain an awareness level that would somehow approach, at least to some degree, being able to conceive a Static. Scientology is unreal to Lawrence Wright. That’s why he can’t describe it, write about it or comment on it in any meaningful way. He cannot conceive a Static. Lacking this level of awareness, this cognition or degree of understanding, the subject eludes his grasp.”

 

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Past is Prologue

2000: Source magazine recently printed a statement by celebrity Jenna Elfman on her completion of OT Preparations. “I am SUCH a product of OT Preparations. I don’t have any attention on my case now. I’m in present time on my case. I went and got myself a new Clear bracelet, it so rehabilitated my State of Clear. No more thought, nothing. Very, very certain. And all I see now is future! I’m ready for OT I. Wow, me. I can get that data. I couldn’t have it before. Didn’t know I couldn’t have it. But I was not in present time to even think that I would be going on to OT I. Now, I’m here full time. I go on course from 9:30 in the morning until 10:15 at night. When I’m drilling, Ron is with me. I really am hearing his communication, his intention, his think on it. And I really feel how much he wants us to go free.”

 
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Random Howdy

“You kids need to look around before you start posting comments willy-nilly.”

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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Masterson’s demurrer denied Oct 19, arraignment delayed to November 2.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay’s sentencing set for October 29 in White Plains, NY delayed to January.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Next pretrial conference set for Jan 12 in Los Angeles

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.’ Petition for a writ of mandate denied Oct 22 by Cal 2nd Appellate District.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Nov 6 (motions to compel arbitration)
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Oct 19: Feshbachs still considering further appellate relief.
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.

Concluded litigation:
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.
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.

 
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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?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] Scientology threw its annual IAS party on L. Ron Hubbard Way, and once again we had a mole
[TWO years ago] Ahoy, matey: We have Scientology’s new Sea Org application!
[THREE years ago] In Canada, Scientology does not get the welcome it might have been expecting
[FOUR years ago] Amassing the real history of Scientology has been a long and dramatic relay race
[FIVE years ago] Hey, tabloids: Tom Cruise once again attends Scientology gala as its poster boy
[SIX years ago] Scientology’s ‘Mecca’ awaits: More tantalizing glimpses of Hubbardian Heaven on Earth
[SEVEN years ago] Claire Headley Gets Us Ready to Go Solo: More Prep for Scientology OT!
[EIGHT years ago] List of People Who Have Left Scientology and Spoken Out Reaches 2,000 Names
[NINE years ago] Scientology Dumpster-Dive: Commenters of the Week!

 
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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 2,104 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,608 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,128 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,148 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,039 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,346 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,214 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,988 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,792 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,108 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,674 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,593 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,761 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,342 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,603 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,641 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,354 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,879 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,409 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,969 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,109 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,429 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,284 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,403 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,759 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,062 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,168 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,570 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,442 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,025 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,520 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,774 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,883 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on October 29, 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

 

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