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Was David Miscavige behind Tom Mesereau’s biggest blunder at Danny Masterson’s prelim?

[Mesereau, Miscavige, Masterson, and Podberesky]

With another set of hearings coming up for Danny Masterson in both his civil and criminal cases this Monday, we have been thinking about the dramatic four days we spent in Los Angeles at his last courtroom appearance.

We were watching as Masterson went through his preliminary hearing on rape charges that could put him in prison for 45 years to life if he’s convicted. As a result of the hearing, Judge Charlaine Olmedo found that probable cause existed and she bound him over for trial. His next arraignment will take place Monday afternoon.

In particular we’re thinking back to day two of the prelim, which took place on Wednesday, May 19. On that day, sitting next to us in the front row of the courtroom was attorney Vicki Podberesky, which we noted in our reports from the courthouse that day.

Since then, we’ve been thinking of a couple of things Podberesky did that day which we couldn’t help notice.

Podberesky represents several Scientologists who may be called as witnesses in the case. She has been handling Scientology’s messes for a long time. She was involved in the Daniel Montalvo case, and she also made things difficult for Karen de la Carriere and Jeffrey Augustine after the death of Karen’s son, Alexander Jentzsch.


We had no doubts that Podberesky was in the room on behalf of Scientology. And so what she was doing puzzled us at the time.

She was typing on a small laptop. Her fingers were really flying. We were pretty busy with our own note-taking during the testimony on that second day of the hearing, but we couldn’t help noticing that Podberesky was clearly transcribing the event as it was going along, her bursts of typing matching the rhythms of what was being said. When testimony would stop for a moment, so would Podberesky’s typing.

It struck us as odd at the time. She’s an attorney, we thought, and surely she would be able to get a transcript of the proceeding easily enough. What was she doing?

It was only later that it dawned on us what must be happening.

We thought back to another dramatic day of courtroom testimony that took place nearly eight years ago. In 2013, we traveled to small New Braunfels, Texas for hearings in the lawsuit against the Church of Scientology filed by Monique Rathbun. Scientology brought a gang of attorneys to those hearings, and we remember seeing Scientology lawyer Kendrick Moxon sprinting out of the room every time there was a break in the action, and Monique Yingling running out to join him. Mike Rinder at some point explained what was going on: They were running out to give Scientology leader David Miscavige updates on everything happening in the courtroom, and receiving instructions from him.

Remembering that scene in Texas, it dawned on us why a high-priced attorney was sitting in the courtroom at Masterson’s preliminary hearing, banging away at her laptop like she was a court stenographer: She was, we figure, providing a live account of everything being said for Miscavige.

And once we came to that realization, it made something else she did so much more significant. If you perused our reports here at the Bunker and our summary of the hearing for The Daily Beast, you know that we considered the most dramatic moment of the four-day event to be defense attorney Tom Mesereau’s use of a Scientology textbook, ‘Introduction to Scientology Ethics’ when he cross-examined the victim known as Christina B, trying to make it look like she was wrong about what the book said, and that it didn’t support the idea that Scientologists are prevented from turning in other church members to law enforcement. And then on day three Deputy DA Reinhold Mueller used the same copy of the book not only to enter it as a prosecution exhibit, but then to show that it in fact supported Christina B’s testimony.

The chef’s kiss moment came when, after Mueller had used Mesereau’s own book to make him look foolish, he handed it back to the legendary defense attorney and said politely, “Thank you. It’s been very helpful.”

Well, there was another moment that came a little earlier which may put this notable scene in a new light.

Just before Mesereau began to use the book to try and trip up Christina B, telling her that in fact the book didn’t say what she claimed, Mesereau came over to speak with Podberesky for a moment.

They whispered to each other, but we will remind you that she was sitting just a few feet from us. We couldn’t help overhearing her assure Mesereau pointedly, while gesturing to the book, “It isn’t in there! It isn’t in there!”

Mesereau then turned to Christina B and boldly asserted to her that the book did not say what Christina B claimed, setting up Mueller’s dramatic turnaround the next day.

We made a mental note at the time that Mesereau’s worst moments in the hearing came whenever he was wading into Scientology, and this particular example was just flat-out embarrassing.

And now we must ask the question, if Podberesky was sending an account of the proceeding live to Miscavige through her laptop, was the communication two-way? And was it Miscavige who had sent her instructions to encourage Mesereau to trip up Christina B by telling her the book didn’t contain what she said it did?


In other words, was Mesereau’s worst moment in court all week caused by Miscavige’s meddling?

We sent detailed emails to both Mesereau and Podberesky, asking them if this is what happened that day. We’ll let you know if they get back to us.

One of the things we’ve been most interested in reporting about this case for the last four years is how much Scientology is inseparable from it. As we reported after the hearing, even we were surprised at how much Scientology and its bizarre and heartless policies were a part of the proceeding, with Judge Olmedo clearly grasping the implications of things like declare orders and disconnection.

And if Miscavige is not only getting live reports of the proceedings but also sending instructions to Mesereau? Danny Masterson may be in even bigger trouble than we thought.


Jon Atack and Chris Shelton

Here’s the description we received: “Chris Shelton sat down to answer a question about Scientology and suddenly realized that the technology he has studied for most of his life is all so much gibberish. Of, course, he immediately e-mailed Jon, and this is the resulting conversation. The two friends reflect on such nonsensical jewels as ‘space is a viewpoint of dimension’ and other Hubbardian tautologies. Jon reminds all of us that, as Tom Stoppard once observed, ‘you can persuade a man to believe almost anything – provided he’s clever enough.’ Chris and Jon discuss how intelligent, empathetic people were drawn into the web of Hubbard’s nonsensical system, using all their imagination and intellect to make sense of the chaos, convincing themselves of meaning where none had existed before. As Jon rightly puts it, ‘What is the lie in Scientology that makes it persist? that it works’.”



Source Code

“One time a few years ago in a war that everybody fortunately has forgotten, a submarine appeared on my port bow. We’d been hanging over it for some time and it ran up its periscope. They used to throw up a patch of oil and then run the periscope up through the oil so as not to leave any salt scum or anything like that on their periscope lens, you know. So a blob of oil appeared and the fellow who was running the engine room telegraphs on the bridge was the only fellow looking in that direction. And he saw this blob of oil appear and he thought that was strange and interesting. We were going very slowly, we were almost dead in the water, and then right up through this big blob of brown oil on a blue sea comes a periscope — swswswswhhh — and looks around in every direction but at our ship! If it had turned another ninety degrees it would have read the biggest doggone 422 that you’d ever seen, fully magnified for the skipper. But anyway, the man on the engine room telegraphs is the only person who observed this incident in its various steps. The bridge was absolutely crammed with men because we were at general quarters. But nobody was looking right down there; they were looking out there, you know. And the fellow on the engine room telegraphs would say, ‘Thh.’ I finally noticed this strange performance and I was all set at this moment, you see, the second I saw this — flank speed and drop a depth charge right. Even if it blew our own stern off, that was fine, you see. And I said, ‘Khh!’ That was the awfulest mess of noncommunication! It finally came off all right. We dropped a depth charge and so on, but we were laughing about this for days. Nobody could talk!” — L. Ron Hubbard, June 5, 1955



Avast, Ye Mateys

“MAYFAIR: Mayfair magazine UK published an article by me as a ‘World Exclusive.’ It may effectively handle a lot of things. It ended off the William Burroughs thing. It said why we’re attacked and attacks hard. It appeared on the stands just before Parliament adjourned. Captain AOUK said it acted like an S&D on the crew there. INJURIES: Those recently injured were not PTS. Survey showed they were exterior and feeling powerful and didn’t watch where they were sending the body.” — The Commodore, June 5, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“I thought I was SP because I could not see pictures. Later I discovered that an SP could not think they were SP, so I then believed I thought I was SP so I could prove I was not SP. Either way I knew I was SP until the natural clear material came out and I self audited a pre-Dianetics experiment I was involved in with Hubbard, 1947, where my entire Whole Track was erased. I had no place to put pictures. I was overwhelmed and died (I think I just wandered out into traffic after the session), then I came back into a Scientology family in 1955 that gave me the tools to consider myself SP. I eventually attested to Clear OT but denied solo auditing because I had not done the Bridge.”


Past is Prologue

1999: Scientology is attempting to obtain the identity of “Safe,” who has posted to a.r.s material from Introduction to Scientology Ethics. From Scientology lawyer Ava Paquette: “I was informed that someone had made two unauthorized, verbatim Internet postings of BPI’s copyrighted works known as ‘PR Series 18’, ‘Suppressive Acts’ and ‘Offenses and Penalties’, under the email address and name Therefore, on behalf of BPI, I immediately notified AT&T, the Internet service provider through which the infringing postings were made, of this claimed infringement and requested the identity of the infringer. I declare that the purpose of the subpoena requested by BPI is to obtain the identity of an alleged infringer.”



Random Howdy

“I almost got castrated by an emu when I was a teenager.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Held to answer for trial, next arraignment set for June 7.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference August 21 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for June 18.

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 to US Supreme Court submitted on May 26. Scientology has until June 25 to respond.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court grants review on May 26, asks Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Second amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 24.

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.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


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 now on Netflix.


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

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. 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] Year after taping ‘Scientology & the Aftermath,’ Victoria Locke is still waiting for justice
[TWO years ago] Scientology survey for its members: Why aren’t you giving us more money?
[THREE years ago] First person: Four Scientologists have been shot, and you’re being sent to audit the pain away
[FOUR years ago] Donna Fiore says Scientology is hounding her for dirt on stepdaughter Leah Remini
[FIVE years ago] Scientology’s next big opening — its totally unneeded ‘Advanced Org’ in Australia
[SIX years ago] If the Sea Org doesn’t legally exist, how does it run Scientology?
[SEVEN years ago] 60 years ago and today: Scientology in its heyday, and now not so much
[EIGHT years ago] Just What Oklahoma Tornado Victims Need: Scientology to the Rescue!


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 2,322 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,827 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,347 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,367 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,258 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,565 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,433 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,207 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,537 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,011 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,327 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,893 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,812 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,980 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,561 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,822 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,860 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,573 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,098 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 453 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,628 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,179 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,328 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,648 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,503 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,622 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,978 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,281 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,387 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,789 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,661 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,244 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,739 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,993 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,102 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 5, 2021 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, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), 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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