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Scientology’s 2020: Another year is in the books at the Underground Bunker!

 
Of course we’re happy to see the last of 2020, a year that none of us will forget. But along with the bad, there has been some good.

The Underground Bunker, for example, has never had more readers. In fact, readership exploded in December, and we sure hope that some of these many new folks stick around.

What they’ll find if they do is not only that we do our best to find you the most important Scientology news day in and day out, but our community here is pretty special too. What a pleasure it is to watch the interaction in the comments section here, where knowledgeable folks — some of them people who spent decades in Scientology and at its highest levels of administration — interact and have a good time.

One product of that community has been our yearly gatherings, our HowdyCons, and we were very sorry to put off this year’s scheduled gathering in St. Louis because of the pandemic. With vaccines now becoming available, we’re hoping that life returns to normal soon. But it’s still too soon to make plans about a HowdyCon in 2021, so we won’t be revealing a new poster at midnight, which has been our tradition in recent years.

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Instead, we’ll join you in the comments for a midnight toast as we look forward to what we hope will be a much better year for all of us.

Now, continuing with our year in review, here are the highlights of November and December…

As November began, Danny Masterson’s arraignment was delayed again, and now is scheduled for January 6.

Luke Catton, former Narconon Arrowhead president, revealed that he’s still being Fair Gamed some seven years after he became a whistleblower.

Longtime Bunker reader PickAnotherID, a 20-year military veteran with expertise in military records and decorations, produced a series for us with the most thorough investigation of L. Ron Hubbard’s “stolen valor” that we’ve ever seen: Part 1, part 2, part 3.

We couldn’t help being interested in a lawsuit between independent Scientologists.

Julian and Katherine Wain are members of Leah Remini’s extended family, and we learned about their own escape from Scientology.

Valerie Haney asked California’s state supreme court to grant her an appeal of Judge Burdge’s decision without first having to subject herself to Scientology’s “religious arbitration.”

Motivated by a suggestion by a reader, we asked former Scientologists to describe what they enjoyed about their lives today that they would have missed if they stayed in the church. We got some great responses. And then a second set of them.

On November 16, we reported the stunning news that Judge Steven Kleifield had vacated a previous hearing and essentially took control of the Danny Masterson lawsuit, asking Scientology to justify its “arbitration” argument in light of federal law which governs “interstate commerce.” And he only gave them a five-page limit to explain themselves. Wow!

A 14-year-old vlogger was giving the world a YouTube tour of her life at Scientology’s Sea Org recruitment school, Delphian.

On November 19 we explained that Danny Masterson had quietly petitioned for a writ in order to appeal the denial of his demurrer in his criminal case, but the petition was denied. He’s spending a lot of money to try and overturn things, but so far he’s having no luck.

The London Ideal Org staff went for a swanky new look in order to entice more customers to come by.

Court records show that Matt and Kathy Feshbach, the Super Power Scientology couple, have finally thrown in the towel and will stop fighting a $3.5 million tax debt. Courts had repeatedly found that the couple were outlandish spenders while crying poverty to the IRS.

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November also brought the good news that journalist Steve Cannane was victorious in his libel trial, which we had been keeping an eye on and explained was a ridiculous miscarriage of justice to begin with.

Phil Jones pointed out that his OT 8 sister was in the news for her distinct lack of control over MEST.

Chris Shelton interviewed Shane Rybacki, who had spied for the Office of Special Affairs as a youngster.

Kirstie Alley dared to mention Shelly Miscavige and made a reference to Leah Remini’s missing-person report she filed on the missing wife of Scientology’s leader. We explained how Kirstie’s tweet was filled with untruths, and we know because we broke that story in 2013. (Also, we marked 25 years writing about Scientology that day.)

December started out with a story we’ve waited a long, long time to tell, but now that there’s a suggestion in court papers that the feds may be sniffing around the Danny Masterson case, we figured it was time to point out some shady property swaps that Masterson was involved with during the time of the rape incidents he’s accused of. Juicy stuff!

In June we reported that Scientology churches, rehabs and schools all received Covid bailout loans. But now the Trump administration released all the records of PPP loans and it turned that many more loans were made to Scientology or affiliated entities, for a total of $4.4 million. And this to an organization that pays its workers little or nothing.

Judge Kleifield asked Scientology to explain how the claims made by Danny Masterson’s accusers would be considered “commerce” for purposes of arbitration, and Scientology did not disappoint. Yes, judge, they explained, Fair Gaming former church members according to L. Ron Hubbard’s policies is the “commerce” that the Church of Scientology engages in. It’s truly one of the most amazing court documents we’ve seen in Scientology litigation history.

On December 5, we marked the 25th anniversary of the death of Lisa McPherson.

The next day we began to wonder about Scientology orgs that were boarded up, months after street unrest in the summer. And some of them, like in Silicon Valley, are away from foot traffic and weren’t near rioting anyway. What gives? Missionary Kid then obtained a very strange answer.

Valerie Haney was denied again. The state supreme court turned down her petition for review, and so she’s once again back to square one: She will get an appeal of Judge Burdge’s ruling, but only after she submits to Scientology “religious arbitration.”

On December 12, we saw in court papers that Danny Masterson’s accusers had made yet another attempt to serve David Miscavige their lawsuit, and those papers described a fun scene on Hollywood Boulevard.

Then, Tom Cruise happened. An audio recording of him screaming at crew members on the Mission: Impossible 7 shoot about Covid regulations was released by the Sun, and quickly became all anyone online was talking about. Some gave Cruise credit for disciplining people over sloppy Covid protection, but others couldn’t help seeing his abusive style as an echo of David Miscavige.

Leah Remini decided to weigh in by pointing out that Cruise had an abusive record a mile long as a Scientology celebrity, and she gave us the statement to make public.

Tom Devocht, meanwhile, said Cruise’s rant made him remember that Miscavige had at one time actually talked about making Cruise a high official in the church.

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Back in court, meanwhile, another facepalm: Jane Doe #1’s name had showed up in court papers again, but this time it was her own legal team that had flubbed.

The next day we posted one of the most amazing Scientology success stories ever, a Super Power completion of superhuman proportions.

And just before Christmas, there was a David Miscavige sighting! His own publication, Source magazine, revealed that he’d attended a Friday night graduation at the Flag Land Base, and an email we obtained said that he’d attended the last five Friday nights.

 
A LOOK BACK AT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019: David Miscavige presided over Ideal Org grand openings in Kansas City and Columbus. Guy White, L. Ron Hubbard’s former son-in-law, goes public for the first time. We said goodbye to Nan McLean and Pete Combs. Beck said he was not a Scientologist, and Leah Remini called it a “pussy move.” “Harlem Homie” is really a new status in the church. Evidence surfaced that Scientology is keeping at least one witness in the Danny Masterson case out of police reach at the Freewinds. A Scientology spy’s interrogation is leaked.

A LOOK BACK AT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018: We published a 1972 account of his life by L. Ron Hubbard Jr (with Paulette Cooper) that had never before seen the light of day. Clay Irwin sold his bar and tipped us off that Scientology was secretly buying up more property in Clearwater (which Tracey McManus at the Tampa Bay Times proved in a brilliant 2019 investigation). Leah Remini focused on Jehovah’s Witnesses, and then started out her third season about Scientology with the bombshell story of Valerie Haney’s escape from Scientology’s Gold Base. Sunny Pereira revealed the moment she realized Clear doesn’t exist. We interviewed Valerie Haney about about David Miscavige’s private life. Leah exposed the Nation of Islam, and we learned then that Tiponi Grey had died. NOI’s Tony Muhammad then took a slimy jab at Leah. After 68 years, we finally found Sonya Bianchi, L. Ron Hubbard’s first “Clear.”

A LOOK BACK AT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017: We learned that Aftermath had filmed an episode with Danny Masterson’s accusers that was not going to air. But the second season ended with a stunning reunion. We provided a roadmap for the new president if he was really serious about reviewing Scientology’s tax-exempt status. We wrote about the death of Brad Bufanda and said goodbye to Sinar Parman. We wondered if Bob Duggan had flown the coop, and we made public for the first time the FBI file of former Clearwater mayor Gabe Cazares. We tracked down notorious Snow White spy Michael Meisner, and finished up the year with a heartwarming story of love.

A LOOK BACK AT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016: Scientologist Vivian Kubrick’s plan to raise money for Shelley Duvall falls apart. David Miscavige’s claim that L. Ron Hubbard brought surfing to California is debunked. Scientology tries to derail the premiere of Leah Remini’s new series with a scummy letter. And Leah’s first “special” episode features Paulette Cooper.

A LOOK BACK AT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015: Leah Remini’s memoir, Troublemaker, hit bookstores. The Texas Third Court of Appeals handed Monique Rathbun a huge victory that seemed to pave the way for a world of hurt for Scientology. We began a day-by-day look at the final days of Lisa McPherson, 20 years after her tragic death. Tabatha Fauteux became Narconon’s newest victim. Legoland funded a Scientology front group on behalf of Jenna Elfman. And one of our biggest stories of the year, felony charges for Scientologists who had used students from primarily minority high schools in a suburb of LA to scam state insurance money.

A LOOK BACK AT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014: Leaked plans show that a new $37 million Scientology facility in Australia will serve only 87 people, on average, at any one time. Some great nuggets about L. Ron Hubbard turned up in Robert Heinlein’s letters collection. We learned how Scientology strains to erase Hubbard’s second wife, Sara Northrup, from the historical record, while Hubbard’s first wife, Polly, filed an affidavit that Hubbard was a deadbeat dad. We went long with the surprising saga of Richie Acunto’s rise and fall. And Marty Rathbun gets ambushed again, this time with Louis Theroux.

A LOOK BACK AT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013: Mike Rinder and Mike Bennitt in a helicopter over the Super Power party, our exclusive interview with Jacqueline Olivier, the principal at Will and Jada’s Scientology school, and we marked the actual 60th anniversary of the first ‘Church of Scientology.’

 
Five of our favorites from the most-upvoted comments of November/December 2020

November 7: UTR

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I only just noticed today that when LRH talked about his fake war history, he managed to belittle and degrade the military. Every single time. His derisive attitude towards those who served and died for their countries was despicable. I am so ashamed that I never paid more attention to this. When I was reading all the books about the truths of the cult last year, I always skipped the military parts because I am not familiar with all the terms and I think I was more interested at the time about all of the lies he told following his fake military history. That’s all I could take, so I appreciate the way this article was written. I get it now. I got down to the Purple Heart section and have so much sorrow for all the persons who really earned all this Valor and had it stolen by LRH. And to the people who forwarded all these lies, you knew it wasn’t true and just didn’t give a shit. How can you live with this? I get it now.

November 13: Richard
Here’s my story: Now that I am out of Scientology, I really feel Tone 40. I can now have a two-way com with any wog I want. Since leaving Scientology, my havingness and beingness have gone up exponentially. I feel I don’t have a Bank anymore which is a big win. I feel I’m blowing charge all the time on all the dynamics and I don’t feel enturbulated atall about the entheta I was told about out here when I was in. I now know with certainty that I can handle anything. I’m really keyed-out here in the real world and I totally feel me now and my responsibility level has hit the stars. I feel completely Up Stat and VGIs. It’s great to be out of Scientology.

November 20: Ivan Mapother
Tony, go ahead and add your name to your precious enablers list. After that photo spread, I’ve quit my job and am flying to London to join staff. I’m going to clear the planet and look good doing it.

December 3: MrsLurksALot
The longer I scrolled down this list, the angrier I got. This enrages me. It is such BS. Small businesses all around are closing, people losing jobs, their homes, their sense of dignity and these fuckers are playing the system.

December 5: Michael Leonard Tilse
When I left Scientology after having started to read information on the Internet, part of that was because of Lisa McPherson. I had moved to Oregon and finally allowed myself to search for information from outside the cult. Lisa’s story, her terrible death and the massive effort to cover up the truth of her last days, enraged me. It was clear to me that she was murdered by the depraved indifference of the Scientologists who “cared” for her. This is what Scientology does: It puts a fog of Hubbard’s indoctrination between a Scientologist and reality. This fog twists one’s perception, re-interprets meaning, blocks grasp of the actual. When something happens that a non-Scientologist would recognize as a medical emergency, the Scientologist sees “out-ethics” or “PTS” or “restimulation” or “counter-intention” or “other fish to fry.” They cannot and do not (for some hard core, others seem to retain some shred of sense) actually SEE the situation in front of them. So these dedicated, committed, devoted Scientologists very carefully and dutifully gave her every bit of help they were allowed by Scientology to give, and denied her the real medical intervention she desperately needed. A needless death. Murdered by the depraved indifference of her “friends.” I accuse.

 
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The ‘Overheard’ of the year?

Is one of these best the “Overheard in the FreeZone” of the year? Give us your thoughts.

Jan 22: “Ron was taken out of the game in 1972 and later just ‘mocked up’ to explain all the alter-is of the tech in the next 14 years till his alleged death. In this wise the global enslavers took not only control over the church, but they destroyed the workable technology, the Bridge and made sure, that no one can go Clear and OT any more. Neither in the Church nor in the Freezone. As long as the people believe in all the revisions by the new management since about 1973, especially since 1978.”

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Feb 21: “I just wanted to say that I really enjoy the ‘Overheard in the Freezone’ daily feature. It is the first time I have seen thoughts similar to mine, thought processes and interests and realities of a ‘post-Scientology’ similar to mine in a very long time. And I feel at home for the first time in years, the first time since I left Scientology. Except that I could not trace those comments to their writers and comment back. I wish I could. Many of them are really interesting, and I’d like to get to know them and discuss ideas. Please keep the feature going, it is really interesting and worthwhile. It shows some very interesting perspectives that augment mine in a thrilling way, which is rare anywhere.”

Aug 26: “This is what Justin Craig left to clean up after he was given free rent for 6 months at the property I am staying at. It has taken me one and a half days to clean it up and haul to the dump. This is inside a giant RV garage and he bought two old motor homes and then gutted them and threw it in a pile for the owner to clean it up. I helped her by doing the work in exchange for some storage space.”

In response to the Bunker’s inquiry about the photo, Craig sent us this: “I should have taken a shit on top and wrapped everything up with a little red bow.”

Sep 5: “DO NOT VOTE. Your vote will make zero positive difference in the outcome of the country’s future as all parties and the entire structure of voting is part of a huge negative creation and trap. By voting you immediately become ‘part’ and not ‘whole.’ By voting you become disempowered and no longer the person who decides your experience on Earth. It is the entire ‘democratic’ system that is the trap. There is no democracy. The system of democratic governance is designed and created to oppress the people of Earth. It is based on division, righteousness and aggression. The people are so busy fighting with each other that they do not see or are even interested in what really rules our reality. So… what rules our reality? YOU rule our reality. By giving your power away, you give the power to a system, person or organization to rule reality FOR YOU. So, what do you do instead? DO NOT VOTE. Create and support new educational, living and working structures and organizations. KNOW that covid19, global warming, racism and terrorism are ALL false flag creations made to DIVIDE AND CONTROL YOU. DO NOT get vaccinated for ANYTHING. This is very important.”

Oct 14: “Lesbian Maoists are exporting war for China. (Instead of being put in FEMA camps, as recommended in Science of Survival.) George Soros funds the lesbian Maoists (BLM) burning the USA.”

Nov 3:

[Indies doing OT TR Zero over Zoom.]

 
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Observer’s favorite shoops of 2020

Observer, who does our posters and is a great shoop (Photoshop edit) artist in her own right, chose five of the illos in our comments section that she enjoyed the most.

Richard provided this take on a Central Files project in Mexico…

 

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Mark Parry-Maddocks posted this in May with the caption, “These mystery sandwiches are stale.”

 

 
And Mark struck again with this vision test.

 

 
Artoo45 fulfilled a Captain Howdy request…

 

 

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And Phil Jones made a custom TWTH cover we’d like to see…

 

 
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BEST OF THE BUNKER, 2020

Like the last four years, we have put together a list of our personal choices for most significant pieces we posted in 2020. Some of them were scoops, others were investigative features, and some of them we just really enjoyed writing. (We’ll be adding this list to our favorites of all time.) So here goes.

 

 
20. A new detailed look at L. Ron Hubbard’s ‘stolen valor’ by a military veteran

We thought the issue of L. Ron Hubbard’s “stolen valor” had already been examined and settled by experts. But one of our own longtime readers, PickAnotherID, revealed to us that he was a 20-year military veteran with expertise in military records and decorations, and he convinced us that in fact there was a lot lacking in the historic record. Over a three-part series, (part 1, part 2, part 3) Pick painstakingly went through the actual information in Hubbard’s military records, explaining the history and exact qualifications for each of Hubbard’s actual decorations, and debunking the ones the church has falsely claimed. What a brilliant job this was, and we were so happy to be able to post it at the Bunker.

 

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19. Saint Hill recruiter on recorded call: Destroyed families a small price to pay

Phil Jones, like so many other former Scientologists, was being dogged by Scientology recruiters that were trying to get him back — even after the church had ripped his family apart. So he recorded a phone conversation he had with a Saint Hill recruiter, Hugh. And it turned out to be a really remarkable recording, because Hugh admitted to Phil that destroyed families is a price worth paying for the expansion of Scientology. Wow.

 

 
18. L. Ron Hubbard’s suppressed 1960 lecture on South Africa

Scientology long ago removed references to a 1960 lecture L. Ron Hubbard gave on South Africa from its catalogs. But we noticed some “independent Scientologists” praising the lecture and its pro-apartheid views and realized that copies of it were floating around online. So we posted it and pulled out key quotes that Scientology is now too embarrassed to include in its sales brochures. Gems like this, for example: “Right now you tell me, well, the government of South Africa does not permit the black man a vote. He doesn’t even know what a vote is!”

 

 
17. My mom is the auditor in the Reckless Ben Scientology infiltration videos

We’ve featured Clarissa Adams and her terrible disconnection story about being cut off by her own mother, Irmin Huber. To our surprise, Clarissa let us know that it was Irmin who had featured in one of the popular “Reckless Ben” infiltration videos as the tired looking auditor who put Ben through hours of questioning about his broken arm. We asked Clarissa to write about it for us, and the result was this moving piece about what it was like to see her mother still so dedicated to the cause, and made the butt of jokes on YouTube.

 

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16. Scientologist chiro Dennis Nobbe charged with fraud, then drops dead

We’ve written about Dennis Nobbe for years. He was a major Scientology player in Miami, where he ran a huge chiropractic operation and repeatedly ran into trouble for forcing Scientology on his employees. But we were shocked in July when federal prosecutors charged him with insurance fraud and PPP loan abuse, and we began watching his case closely. To our further surprise, in September prosecutors wanted his bail revoked when, they said, Nobbe was caught trying to bribe witnesses. Wow! Initially, the court declined to revoke bail, settling instead for confiscating his cell phone. But prosecutors appealed that decision, and the court decided to throw Nobbe into the slammer. He had received the news of it so suddenly, he immediately got his attorney on the phone, who had heard nothing about the decision. While the attorney was checking his computer for notice of the ruling, he heard a loud sound on the other end of the line, and then learned that his client had dropped dead on the spot. And so ended the life of an ardent Scientologist who had been facing major prison time. (Strangely, although many press outlets reported on Nobbe’s criminal charges in July, the Underground Bunker is still the only news outlet to even mention his case ending with his sudden death.)

 

 
15. Scientology cruise ship commander recorded giving orders during the pandemic

Rod Keller brought us a real gem this May when he found audio of a conference call featuring Sharron Weber, the commanding officer of Scientology’s private cruise ship, the Freewinds. It was something of a textbook case of how delusional Scientology orders can be, as Weber told her listeners that Scientology’s greatest expansion was just around the corner — and at a time when the world was in lockdown. To help us put Weber’s strange harangue into perpective, we turned to experts Valeska Paris, Mat Pesch, and Chris Shelton. “All I hear is desperation,” Mat told us.

 

 
14. Jane Doe drops her Miami child abuse lawsuit against Scientology and its leader

Score another one for Miscavige. After she learned from the Clearwater police that it was dropping its criminal investigation into her child molestation claims, the woman going by Jane Doe who had filed a lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and its leader David Miscavige asked her attorneys to drop the suit. She explained to us that not only had the police let her down, but she knew that Scientology was likely to use the information to produce a smear campaign against her. She had alleged that as a child she had been molested at a Scientology kindergarten and then while she was a child employee of the church, but police were having trouble finding people who could corroborate her claims years later. Leah Remini spoke out after the case was dropped, and assured Jane Doe that she had let no one down.

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13. Scientology pays its workers peanuts, but scored millions in Covid payroll bailout loans anyway

When the Trump administration gave out initial information about which businesses had scored payroll assistance loans in July, we found that the recipients included three Scientology churches, a couple of rehabs, and its most unhinged front group, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights. A few days later we also found that several Scientology schools were also on the list. But then, when a more complete accounting was released this month, we got the full picture: Many more Scientology churches, rehabs and schools had received money, totaling $4.4 million in taxpayer cash for an organization that often pays its works pennies an hour when they pay them at all.

 

 
12. Cedric Bixler-Zavala blamed Scientology for poisoned dog he had to put down

Chrissie Carnell Bixler and her rocker husband, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, believe they have had to bury two dogs because of harassment from the Church of Scientology. Chrissie is one of Danny Masterson’s rape accusers, and since she came forward to the LAPD in 2016, she and Cedric say they’ve had a bizarre barrage of things happen to them. But the worst was the death of their dog Ethel in Texas, who died of a ruptured trachea, and the poisoning death of their dog Biscuit in Los Angeles. Both deaths were intentional, their vets told them. Scientology denies that it is harassing the couple. Meanwhile, Bobette Riales, another woman who accuses Masterson and who, along with Chrissie and Cedric are suing Masterson, almost lost her dog Jet when it was poisoned this year as well.

 

 
11. Boarded up orgs in the US: What gives, Dave?

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Months after the summer’s street unrest had died down, some Scientology orgs around the US were boarded up. Our readers fanned out and got us photos to show that orgs this month were partially or fully sealed up in New York, DC, Mountain View, Los Gatos, Pasadena, Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, and Sacramento. Meanwhile, we didn’t see Scientologists saying anything about it on social media. What was going on? We got a possible answer when reader Missionary Kid went by and found the San Diego org boarded up, and got a chance to ask a staffer about it. That staffer said the org was boarded up in anticipation of riots over the election. Riots over Joe Biden’s inauguration? In Los Gatos?

 

 
10. Ex-Sea Orger with ties to dark secrets ran for city council in Oregon

It’s unusual enough to find a Scientologist running for public office. But someone like Brittany Ruiz, a former Sea Org official who had been executive director at Advanced Organization of Los Angeles, where the nutty “OT” auditing levels are delivered? What was she thinking? Brittany had become known in McMinnville, Oregon as an anti-vaccination activist, and she had decided to take on a more moderate Republican for a city council seat. But we pointed out that her husband Javier Ruiz had also been a Sea Org official and played a fairly important role in the story of Leah Remini deciding to leave Scientology. And in a second piece we explained that Ruiz also played a small part in the story of Laura DeCrescenzo, and it appeared in her court papers. Did these people seriously think Brittany could run for office without their role in this abusive organization becoming known? Sheesh. Some local observers told us that they thought Brittany had a good shot at winning. But instead she was thoroughly rebuked by voters.

 

 
9. Why Scientology can worry if John Travolta and Lisa Marie Presley seek solace in each other

What a terrible double tragedy that rocked two families: John Travolta announced that his wife Kelly Preston had died of breast cancer at 57. And Lisa Marie Presley’s son, Benjamin Keough, ended his life with a firearm. He was only 27. We reported that a close friend to Benjamin told us that he had been out of Scientology for years, but “Ben had been talking about how fucked up kids get in Scientology.” We then wrote a piece pointing out that Lisa Marie and Travolta have been close, and that it makes sense these two old friends might seek solace in each other after these two terrible events. And if they did, Scientology might be the loser. We had excellent sourcing on an account of Lisa Marie trying to talk sense into Travolta about Scientology in the past. And if he can’t be convinced now that Scientology is really ineffective and its health claims are nonsense, when will he ever be?

 

 

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8. Karen Bass said she attended Scientology event because it was in her district. But it wasn’t.

At the end of July the Daily Caller broke a story that quickly became the national political story of the day: Karen Bass, a Los Angeles congresswoman whom Joe Biden was purportedly considering as a running mate, had made a 2010 speech at the Scientology “Ideal Org” grand opening in L.A. We had actually had evidence of this on our website for a few years, and confirmed that the Daily Caller was correct. And we wondered if this was disqualifying for Bass to obtain such high office. But she put out a public statement saying that she only went to the event because it was in her district at the time (she was a state senator then), and anyway Leah Remini’s show has now made it public what a controversial organization Scientology is. Well, that certainly wasn’t the case: While Leah has done an amazing job of bringing Scientology’s abuses to a new audience, there had been plenty of other exposes of the church before 2010. And more importantly, we looked up the district maps that were in effect that day in 2010, and what Bass had said simply wasn’t true: The new Ideal Org was not in her district. She then had to put out a new statement, admitting that her first statement wasn’t true and that she didn’t write it anyway, an underling did. What terribly timed flubs. We don’t know if Bass really had a shot at being chosen, but this couldn’t have helped her chances, and may have also contributed to her not getting a cabinet appointment, who knows.

 

 
7. Valerie Haney’s fight against the order to submit to Scientology’s ‘religious arbitration’

At the end of January, it was one of the year’s biggest shocks: Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Burdge granted Scientology’s motion and denied Valerie Haney her right to sue the church, telling her she had to take her grievances to Scientology’s internal brand of “religious arbitration.” She spent the rest of the year trying to overcome this ruling, even asking California’s state supreme court to intervene. They turned her down. She will eventually be able to appeal Burdge’s ruling, but only after she submits to Scientology’s star chamber, which she’s opposed to doing. In August, she gave us a public statement, saying that she wasn’t giving up the fight.

 

 
6. Mark Bunker elected to Clearwater city council

It might surprise some readers to know that Scientologists actually make up only a tiny percentage of the population of Clearwater, Florida, despite the church’s death-grip on property downtown. So maybe it was inevitable that at some point a candidate running on a platform of opposing Scientology expansion in the city would get elected. But it was still a stunning surprise when Mark Bunker did just that. Bunker, the well mannered and generous bloke we’ve known for many years, was in Clearwater during the Lisa McPherson Trust days and had moved back in more recent years as he struggled to produce a documentary about the church. But what better way, he said, to bring Scientology’s controversies to the public’s attention than to make sure they were considered in the local government? What a great result in such a terrible year that Bunker should win his election. We’re still beaming about it.

 

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5. Scientology Black Ops: The spiked Aussie series that was leaked and then spiked again

We had been looking forward to Bryan Seymour’s latest investigation at 7 News in Australia since he interviewed us for it a year ago, last December. And we knew it was really going to be a big deal when we learned that he had made it a ten-parter of short episodes for the nightly news, and that 7 News even put out a trailer about it. But then, a total shock: At the last minute, the network killed the series without a word. Two of the people who were going to be featured heavily in the series, Leah Remini and Mike Rinder, told us that they believed Tom Cruise and Tommy Davis, whose secrets were going to be revealed in the program, had pressured the network through their friend billionaire James Packer, who was a very close friend to the chairman of 7 News. We didn’t know if that was true or not, but it seemed plain to us we’d never see this series. Then, another shock: The first episode of the series suddenly showed up online, and an embed link to it was sent to us. We posted the episode, along with a transcript of it. And over the next few weeks, the rest of the episodes also appeared, containing damaging information about, for example, Tom Cruise and Tommy Davis teaming up to threaten Cruise’s publicist Pat Kingsley if she ever spoke out about the actor. Davis then hired attorneys in Sydney who asked us to take down the episodes that featured him and we ignored it and published their letter. But then Davis threatened to sue 7 News, which asked us for the first time to take down the series. We don’t have the resources to take on a legal fight in Australia, so we took down the video embed links. But the transcripts are still there if you’d like to see what was in this excellent investigation by Seymour.

 

 
4. Leah Remini on Tom Cruise’s Covid rant in its Scientology context

Tom Cruise broke the Internet with his over-the-top screaming fit on the Mission: Impossible 7 set, yelling at crew members for not maintaining proper social distancing and potentially endangering the expensive enterprise. Right from the start reaction to the recording, released by the Sun, was mixed. On the one hand, people fed up with poor pandemic discipline were happy to see someone pitch a fit about it. But on the other, Cruise sounded awfully abusive to his employees, and he seemed to evoke his best pal David Miscavige in the process. While the controversy was swirling, Leah Remini gave us a lengthy statement reminding people that Cruise actually had a long record as an abusive Scientology celebrity. We posted it here at the Bunker under her byline and boom, wow, it got picked up all over the place.

 

3. Scientology and Covid: Leader David Miscavige’s leaked order and ‘planetary bullbait’

Naturally, one of the biggest stories we covered this year was Scientology’s response to the pandemic. And what a response! If you remember, here in the US the moment when things really reached critical mass and most places went into lockdown was Friday, March 13. Well, that just happened to be the date of L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday, and one of Scientology’s most important international events was scheduled for that night in Clearwater, Florida. That event was canceled, and David Miscavige was not happy about it. We soon began to hear that church members were being called down to their local orgs to read a special document that they were not allowed to see unless they came in person. It was a special “Inspector General Network bulletin” written by Miscavige himself, and we wanted desperately to see what was in it. We were then extremely fortunate that one of our readers got their hands on a copy and leaked it to us. “IGN Bulletin No. 88” did not disappoint. In it, a livid Miscavige described the pandemic as a “planetary bullbait” — in other words, a hoax designed to test Scientology’s resolve — and instructed his followers that above all else, their job would be to “protect the orgs.” What ensued was a schizophrenic program as, on the one hand, Scientologists do not ascribe to germ theory and were more susceptible to most people to spreading nutty conspiracies about Covid, and on the other hand the church saw a public relations opportunity and went whole hog with a program of pretending to safeguard the public with sanitation teams, health booklets, and mask wearing. We covered it all as it unfolded over several months.

 

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2. Leah Remini’s missing ‘Troublemaker’ chapter: The real Tom Cruise

When the ‘Scientology Black Ops’ series in Australia was killed, it looked like we might never get the chance to see Bryan Seymour’s investigation. One person who was very unhappy about that was Leah Remini, who featured prominently in the series, and who was very familiar with the secrets Seymour was going to spill. Convinced that Tom Cruise and Tommy Davis were behind the program being axed, Remini was determined that they not be successful burying one of the most important stories that Seymour was going to tell: The Scientology dirty tricks operation against Cruise’s former publicist, the legendary Pat Kingsley. So Leah did something extraordinary. She let us know that there was a missing chapter from her bestselling 2015 book, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. She had written a chapter primarily about Tom Cruise but then had decided she didn’t want it to take away attention from the rest of her memoir. In that chapter, which was partially written and partially notes, she detailed the story of Cruise and Davis using Scientology’s usual dirty tricks techniques in 2004 to keep Kingsley quiet as Cruise set out (disastrously, it turned out) to be Scientology’s ambassador. Leah stunned us by turning over that chapter to us, and we worked with her to prepare it for publication here at the Underground Bunker. It contains some of the most amazing material about Cruise and Scientology we’ve ever published, and we can’t thank Leah enough for letting us make it public.

 

 
1. Danny Masterson charged with three counts of forcible rape, faces 45 years to life in prison

On March 3, 2017, we broke one of our biggest stories ever here at the Bunker: The LAPD was investigating Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson for raping multiple women while they were Scientologists over a period between 2001 and 2004. The LAPD acknowledged the investigation later that day, but for the next three years we heard nothing from the L.A. District Attorney’s office about whether it was actually going to file criminal charges against the That ’70s Show actor. Tired of waiting, in August 2019 four of the women filed a lawsuit against Masterson and Scientology for the harassment they said they were experiencing after coming forward to the LAPD. (We reported that seven women eventually came forward to the police.) Year after year the women went through wrenching interactions with the police and prosecutors while Masterson derided them as “bitter ex-girlfriends.” And we reported in 2018 that the District Attorney’s office managers had signed off on charging Masterson under the strict “One Strike Law” that could potentially put Masterson in prison for life. But still, District Attorney Jackey Lacey said nothing. Then, on June 16, it happened. Lacey charged Masterson for three forcible rapes under the strict law, carrying a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. And since then, we’ve watched closely as Masterson has had to negotiate both the criminal case and the civil lawsuit at the same time. It has, without a doubt, been the biggest story we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker this year.

 
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Source Code

“Sixty-three was the year I had to do all the research work. I’ve sacrificed everything now. The other day, the other day, not too long ago, I was outside taking a look at the dawn and it was a great relief. The Van Allen belt is nice and warm and you can sit in the Van Allen belt amongst the radiation that’s supposed to be so harmful. It’s nice that it’s there. It holds in the warm air, you know, and you can put out your beams and warm your hands. And rain clouds are absolutely beautiful there. They’re almost as good as a drink of Coca-Cola. And you can get into the ice crystals of a rain cloud and it’s very nice. It’s very nice. It’s cooling, refreshing, you know, like taking a cold shower on a hot summer day. And all of a sudden you’re not stricken by these fantastic temperature reactions. See, you’re in a body, you see, you get a temperature difference of ten degrees up or ten degrees down and you’re kind of miserable, you know? And outside, you get a temperature differential of two hundred degrees centigrade up and two hundred degrees centigrade down — it makes a nice change!” — L. Ron Hubbard, December 31, 1963

 
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Avast, Ye Mateys

“DIV VI: Win! Al Bornstein now head of Div VI has turned out the basic first step of a PR division — its different publics — and issued the test FSO on them. What a nice thing to see. Standard Div actions!” — The Commodore, December 31, 1970

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“I think one of the things that got us in trouble way back was to make Scientology ‘Mainstream’ or by trying to gain ‘acceptance,’ which I believe is one of the reasons so many are buying into this ‘Ideal Org’ money laundering scam. They think by putting up these ostentatious edifices it will attract the ‘right’ kind of people to Scientology. What it’s basically attracted are a bunch of elitists who look at Scientology as a tax write off and the deluded types who believe that if they Solo enough NOTs that the world will somehow magically change before their eyes. ‘Led’ by some guy who couldn’t find his way to the rest room….I’m not saying miracles can’t occur, I do believe that the release of OT VIII definitely had something to do with the fall of the Berlin Wall. That said the fact is that many if not most of the first OT VIIIs were in fact auditor trained. Unlike the current bunch of untrained status-hungry by-passed cases who are now in the Church these days endlessly ‘auditing’ ‘the level’ who couldn’t even get a chameleon to change color in. Many of these ‘False Threes’ do more to discredit Scientology then all the bad press and media combined.”

 
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Past is Prologue

1997: The secret agreement signed by Scientology and the Internal Revenue Service in 1993 was made public this week by the Wall Street Journal. “The Church of Scientology paid the federal government $12.5 million as part of a broad 1993 settlement with the Internal Revenue Service under which the church’s main branch secured its tax-exempt status. According to a copy of the settlement, details of which have never before been made public, the church also agreed to set up a special ‘church tax-compliance committee,’ composed of high-level church officials, to monitor its adherence to the pact and to laws governing nonprofit organizations.”

 
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Random Howdy

“Well Sherbet, it doesn’t look like this tired ole punk is going to make it to midnight, so a ‘HAPPY NEW YEAR’ to you and the the rest of the Degenerates and a ‘Big, Big Love’.”

 
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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 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 denied Dec 11.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Dec 18, re-hearing on motions to compel arbitration, awaiting ruling; 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.

 
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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.

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.

LEAH REMINI: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE AFTERMATH

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 now on Netflix.

SCIENTOLOGY’S CELEBRITIES, from A to Z

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?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] Scientology’s 2019: Another year is in the books at the Underground Bunker!
[TWO years ago] Scientology’s 2018: Another year is in the books at the Underground Bunker!
[THREE years ago] Scientology’s 2017: Another year is in the books at the Underground Bunker!
[FOUR years ago] LEAKED AUDIO — Scientology’s New Year’s event 2017: ‘Welcome to Scientology forever!’
[FIVE years ago] Scientology’s 2015: Another year is in the books at the Underground Bunker!
[SIX years ago] Scientology’s 2014 in review: So long to another great year in the Bunker!
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s 2013 in review: The Super Power-ful finish to an eventful year
[EIGHT years ago] John Sweeney and Marc Headley Visit Scientology’s Odd New Mexico Vault
[NINE years ago] Scientology Spectacular: Commenters of the Year!

 
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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 2,167 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,671 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,191 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,211 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,102 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,409 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,277 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,051 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,855 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,171 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,737 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,656 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,824 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,405 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,666 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,704 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,417 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,942 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 297 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,472 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,023 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,172 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,492 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,347 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,466 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,822 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,125 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,231 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,633 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,505 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,088 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,583 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,837 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,946 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on December 31, 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, 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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