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Steve Cannane vindicated as Australian judge denounces ‘Deep Sleep Therapy’ doctors

In a thorough and lengthy thrashing, Justice Jayne Jagot of the Australian federal court dismissed a case of defamation brought against journalist Steve Cannane and his book about the history of Scientology in Australia, Fair Game.

Scientology is only a shell of what it once was in that country, but in one chapter of his book, Cannane explained that if Scientology had a high water mark Down Under, it may have been when its anti-psychiatry agenda led to uncovering a nightmare going on in a psychiatric hospital where patients were being kept in a perpetual state of semi-consciousness known as “Deep Sleep.”

The practice, which briefly found a number of adherents among doctors in the 1970s and 1980s, proved to be extremely dangerous and caused numerous deaths. And after Scientology helped expose the situation a royal commission thoroughly investigated these doctors and denounced the practice.

Thirty years later Cannane related the story, drawing from the official documents of the royal commission. But Australia doesn’t have the same legal protections for journalists as we enjoy in the First Amendment here in the United States. When two of the former doctors sued Cannane claiming that they had been defamed by the book, the Australian court found that Cannane and his publisher would have to go through a trial and prove all over again what the royal commission had found in the early 1990s.


It was a ludicrous notion and such a trial would never have happened here in the US. But we watched as the former doctors (now very elderly) testified, and experts lined up to explain how reckless they had been.

(And we’d like to thank the Australian court for allowing us to observe the proceedings via an online link, something that American courts are struggling with in the pandemic.)

In a 273-page ruling (yes, it’s massive, and we have the whole thing for you below), Justice Jagot thoroughly thrashes the former doctors for not only participating in such a dangerous and lethal practice, but then trying to change history and hang it on Steve Cannane.

She dismissed the lawsuit and awarded Cannane and his publisher court costs. It was a thorough victory, but hard won after weeks of court testimony.

“I am thrilled by the decision,” Cannane tells us. “What I wrote was the truth and Justice Jagot acknowledged that in her damning judgment. My publisher HarperCollins defended me all the way. A publisher brave enough to take on a book about Scientology and then defend it in the courts in a multi-million dollar case that stretched out over three years deserves enormous credit. Our legal team were amazing. Gill and Herron have never shown any remorse for their role at Chelmsford Hospital. In this legal case they made out they were the victims. They weren’t,” he says.

“I wanted to acknowledge the true victims of this sorry saga. The 24 people who died as a result of dangerous experimental treatments, their families and friends and all the other people who were harmed there. A number of victims gave evidence on my behalf. They were so brave. They had to relive the awful traumatic experiences they went through again on the witness stand. They told me they didn’t want Gill and Herron to get away with it again. They didn’t.”

Here’s the ruling…

HerronVHarperCollins.pdf by Tony Ortega on Scribd


Source Code

“I remember trying to pick a little girl up out of a bombed carriage one time, about 1685, and I had quite a lose because I didn’t succeed in making her get on her feet, she was half blown to bits. And mechanisms didn’t work, and so forth, and tried to pick her up and dust her off, you know, as a thetan. And it didn’t work and it gave me a big lose and I got all confused and upset about the thing and then that was an overt not to have done it, you get the idea? But I was guilty of an overt in the first place, I eventually realized and found out, in that I was riding as the, as a bodyguard on this particular carriage, see, and I didn’t do it, you know. Something bad went wrong, see, something bad happened. Well, that’s guilty of an overt act right then. Don’t expect to control a situation that you’ve caused to that degree. Got the idea?” — L. Ron Hubbard, November 25, 1959



Avast, Ye Mateys

“CLASS X: We have now graduated two Class X Internes. This is a good win and breaks the log jam. It takes quite a while to make a Class X in view of the intervening courses such as SHSBC, Class VIII, Class IX, to which are currently added a long Interneship of Class VII. There has been a very slow making of auditors in the field. The New York Org has just telexed that it has made its first Class IV in a year and a half…We are putting a new regulation into HCOs that 50 percent of all its recruits must go to Tech. In other words, for every two recruits, one of them must be put into full time training. Recent HCOs have had a tendency to neglect the establishment of Tech and Qual Divisions with qualified personnel.” — The Commodore, November 25, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“I don’t think it is fair to blame Ron for what the Church of Scientology turned into or for any of its actions either. The only people who are doing that are people who either do not really understand Scientology, have a strong misanthropic streak, are covering up their own overts, or possibly some simply have a compulsion to be in the limelight no matter what cost to anyone. I never expected Ron to be perfect in the first place. He never said he was, and in fact he said that he wasn’t. His many accomplishments, however, pass for perfection for many people, including me. His life work is unprecedented in all of history to my recollection. So no, blaming Ron for anything that occurred back then has nothing to do with anything I said or think.”


Past is Prologue

1999: The St. Petersburg Times reported that Medical Examiner Joan Wood will re-examine some of the evidence in the death of Lisa McPherson. “Lawyers for the Church of Scientology have given Wood new evidence that, they say, casts doubt on Wood’s original opinion: that McPherson was severely dehydrated when she died while in the care of Scientology staffers. Scientology’s evidence includes sworn statements from laboratory employees involved in the original testing of McPherson’s eye fluid, a clear, jelly-like substance used by medical examiners to assess a body’s condition at death. It includes other scientific information that, according to the church, shows McPherson’s death had nothing to do with dehydration.”



Random Howdy

“I’ve always wanted to move to Australia. I could hang out at the pub all day with Nick Cave and the Cosmic Psychos, get a dingo, collect funnel web spiders and tiger snakes and swim with white pointers and salties. Send me a ticket and a few thousand dollars to tie up lose ends and I’ll be right over.”


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 Jan 6.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay’s sentencing delayed for ‘Fatico’ hearing on Jan 19.
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 writ of mandate denied Oct 22 by Cal 2nd Appellate District. Petition for review by state supreme court filed Oct 30.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Dec 18, re-hearing on motions to compel arbitration; Jan 29, Masterson’s request to stay discovery pending the criminal case
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Nov 18: Feshbachs indicated they will enter into consent judgment to pay the debt.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Second amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.

Concluded litigation:
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs.
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.


SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks

The Australian Seven News network cancelled a 10-part investigation of Scientology and its history of dirty tricks. Read the transcripts of the episodes and judge for yourself why Tom Cruise and Tommy Davis might not have wanted viewers to see this hard-hitting series by journalist Bryan Seymour.


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.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and coming November 1 to Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. 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 a weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] Leah Remini calls Beck’s sudden Scientology defection a ‘pussy move’
[TWO years ago] Kirstie Alley calls on her fellow Scientologists to pounce on another disaster
[THREE years ago] After a landmark court case, Scientology watchers should be celebrating, not sniping
[FOUR years ago] That time when Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard didn’t invent surfing in California
[FIVE years ago] Lisa McPherson and the doctors: Hamstrung by the ‘spiritual’ needs of a thetan
[SIX years ago] Scientology Armageddon: Now Sears — yes, Sears — is piling on the embattled church
[EIGHT years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology Braces for the Holidays!
[NINE years ago] Scientology vs. Pollution, a Lisbon Cocktail Party, and More: Sailing on the Apollo Nov. 20-26


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 2,131 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,635 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,155 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,175 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,066 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,373 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,241 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,015 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,819 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,135 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,701 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,620 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,788 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,369 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,630 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,668 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,381 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,906 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 261 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,436 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,987 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,136 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,456 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,311 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,430 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,786 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,089 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,195 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,597 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,469 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,052 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,547 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,801 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,910 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on November 24, 2020 at 17:00

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, 15 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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