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Our story about Scientology front group in Broward Schools kicks up a fuss

[Video still from ‘The Right to Move’]

On Monday, we showed you a flier that a tipster had forwarded to us, showing that not only had one of Scientology’s sneaky front groups, Youth for Human Rights, managed to infiltrate the public school district in Broward County, Florida, but that the school district was actively helping to round up kids to take part in a video project.

As we pointed out, we never expect Scientology to give up trying to reach kids with its various fronts, but it was another thing to see the country’s sixth largest public school district acting as a complicit partner in such a scheme.

Well, our story appears to have reached the right people, because last night the local paper of record, the Sun-Sentinel, reported that parents and board members had raised questions about the school’s relationship with the Scientology group, which turns out to go back more than ten years.

Sun-Sentinel reporter Scott Travis got some great information in his piece, which is behind a paywall. Some nuggets:

Coral Springs parent Jacqui Luscombe, who serves on several school district committees, complained to district administrators this week after reading a blog post about the video contest the district was co-sponsoring.


“There is no gray area with Scientology. They are a cult and not the kind of organization we should be funneling teachers and students into, no matter how good they may say the curriculum is,” said Luscombe.

At a meeting of an advisory council on Wednesday, Luscombe asked that the school district cut ties with Youth for Human Rights immediately.

She was told that school officials were looking into it, but Antoine Hickman, chief of student support services, said: “I’m not going to defend the Church of Scientology, but there is a process. We have a number of faith-based organizations that support initiatives in our school system.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Scientology snows so many school officials and other politicians, as well as law enforcement, through the “religion angle,” as founder L. Ron Hubbard literally referred to it.

Scientology mouthpiece Karin Pouw provided a typically churlish statement pretending that it was offensive to question the “altruism” of Youth for Human Rights.

But at least one board member has been paying attention…

“This is, quite frankly, very embarrassing and concerning, and I hope the district addresses it immediately,” School Board member Sarah Leonardi said. “We shouldn’t be partnering with organizations that I’ve seen disturbing HBO documentaries about.”

Yeah, you said a mouthful there, Ms. Leonardi. Another board member said she was planning on taking her concerns to the interim superintendent.

Once again, we’ll remind anyone paying attention in Broward County that Scientology is a human rights abuser going back decades, and it was pretty clever when the church dreamed up a sneaky front group that makes use of a 1948 document put out by the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Scientology, of course, pretends that it’s providing a crucial service to educate young people about rights they need to know about. But if that were the case, and it wasn’t just another attempt by Scientology to distract the public from its own human rights record, why is it trying to teach American kids things that are completely uncontroversial here in this country, like “Right #14,” the right to move to another city? (See image above.)

Meanwhile, here are some of the human rights that Scientology doesn’t advertise.

The right not to be forced to have an abortion.

The right not to have your family ripped apart for daring to criticize Scientology.

The right not to be impoverished by Scientology’s bewildering extortion schemes.

The right not to become the target of a scary harassment campaign for daring to leave the Sea Org.


We hope Broward Schools figures out it’s being taken for a station wagon ride.


ADDITIONAL: Mark Bunker enters the fray

Late last night we received a copy of what Clearwater City Councilman Mark Bunker had sent to the Sun-Sentinel after he saw their piece. Here’s what he sent them.

Thanks for picking up on Tony Ortega’s blog post about Youth for Human Rights. As a council member here in Clearwater, Florida I am very concerned about Scientology’s front groups being used to “safepoint” Scientology, especially within public school systems. Who does the judging of the student videos? Are they sent to “Youth for Human Rights” or do the schools select their own winners?

I’d like to see what happens if some student chooses Scientology’s abuses as the subject of their video. I’d be happy to volunteer video from my interviews with former members such as Gary Morehead who spent his days as a 12-year-old Sea Org member assembling e-meters to be sold for thousands of dollars each to members of Scientology instead of getting an education. One woman told of how at the age of 13 she was the sole person in charge of overseeing a crew of workers remodeling a Scientology office about a block away from our City Hall. It was 2 a.m. and a worker seriously sliced up his hand. She went with him to the emergency room as he spoke no English. The staff at the hospital couldn’t understand how this young girl was overseeing a group of grown men in the middle of the night but when she said “I’m a Scientologist,” that’s all the explanation that was needed. Weird things like that are just expected here.

Other abuses the kids can highlight are the forced abortions, the prisoncamp-like Rehabilitation Project Force, the spiltting up of familes, or a multitude of other sins you can see in some of my video clips.

Scientology needs to be stripped of their tax exempt status. While we’re waiting for that to happen, our kids should not be handed over to Scientology as PR pawns.

— Clearwater Councilmember Mark Bunker


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Source Code

“Why do people get so upset with a toothache, and why do they have this big nerve? The reason is that this happened again and again and again, and every time this happened, the theta facsimile would be used for new design. The things that appeared around the lips of these shells evidently appeared on the top side first, because there was more shelter, and then they appeared on the bottom lip. Every time these things would get disrupted they would say, ‘Next time we have got to have a tougher outer skin!’ And the next time they would make one, but in the meantime they got this sand — engram after engram after engram. Somewhere along the line you occasionally find a worm boring in there. Dentists are actually in the valence of these worms!” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 15, 1951


Avast, Ye Mateys

“SAILING: Evidently we sail at about 1500. Glass is up again.” — The Commodore, October 15, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“I cared for my father in the last few years of his life in that body. The next day, he left the body. As I stood next to his bedside holding his hand, he let out the last breath. The nurses and doctor left. I was there alone with him and was aware of his presence, just outside of his body, dreaming as he was in his sleep moments before the body died. I communicated with him and let him know the body was finished. ‘Oh you and your Scientology’ he scoffed, communicating telepathically, but as clear as if he was using the body’s voice.”



Past is Prologue

1998: David Alexander reported an attempt by Scientology to buy his silence this week. “My personal private investigator, Ted Banas, sent an associate, Monty Drake, to deliver a $10,000.00 check to me today. To get the $10,000.00, all I had to do was to sign an agreement that I would never again say anything ‘not-good’ about Scientology. The agreement stated the purpose of the money was to purchase my silence, but that I could never discuss this to anyone. I didn’t learn the amount of the check until I got to the restaurant. The insulting amount, plus the suppressive agreement, and the labeling of the money as payment for silence, instead of a ‘refund’, led me to immediately refuse. The agreement would force me to pay $10,000.00 for each instance of saying or writing anything negative about Scientology. Also I would never be permitted to report this to anyone. This was one more criminal act by OSA, trying to pay me to keep silent after they defrauded me of $112,822.26.”


Random Howdy

“Scientology may be circling the drain but there’s no shortage of crazy waiting in the wings. It’s going to be a long uphill battle to get to the top and stop the billions of minds waiting in line to go down that slippery slope called ‘magical thinking’.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for November 10. Trial tentatively scheduled for February.
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 December 17 in Los Angeles

David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for November 19.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30, 2020 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ US Supreme Court denied Valerie’s petition Oct 4.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Oral arguments scheduled for November 2.
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: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28, 2022.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 23. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.



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] Scientology rehab: A new Narconon horror story that will remind you of all the others
[TWO years ago] Xenu-giving: We check the crowd at Scientology’s biggest org on a day of thanks
[THREE years ago] US Sheriffs, dead or alive — Scientology is happy to use them for self-promotion
[FOUR years ago] David Miscavige is gambling on Birmingham for Scientology success, and who knows why
[FIVE years ago] Scientology’s latest drama in Russia: The mystery woman who infiltrated an org
[SIX years ago] Louis Theroux’s ‘My Scientology Movie’: A hilarious take on an unfunny bunch
[SEVEN years ago] A perplexing tale about Bob Duggan, the richest Scientologist in the world
[EIGHT years ago] Help Us Decode Leah Remini’s Anti-Scientology Dance From Last Night’s Dancing With The Stars
[TEN years ago] Scientology Effervescence: Commenters of the Week!


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 2,454 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,959 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,479 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,499 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,390 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,697 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,565 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,339 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,669 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,143 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,459 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,025 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,944 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,112 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,693 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,954 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,990 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,705 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,230 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 585 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,760 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,311 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,460 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,780 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,635 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,754 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,110 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,413 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,519 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,917 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,793 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,376 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,871 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,125 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,234 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on October 15, 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


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


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