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The Underground Bunker’s 2021 Scientology year-in-review starts today!

[Danny Masterson’s preliminary hearing in May was a highlight of another messed up year]

A very happy winter solstice to our northern hemisphere readers, and to our antipodean friends, enjoy your summer! Once again it’s time to take stock of the year just past with our annual review, and wow, is this year finishing strong or what?

The new leaks appearing here and over at Mike Rinder’s place just in the last couple of weeks have really astounded us, and suggest that after 20 months of a worldwide pandemic, the Church of Scientology is in very bad shape.

As usual, however, we covered a lot of different topics in the world of Scientology this year, and as is our custom, we’ll be reviewing a different month each day until December 31 when we wrap up our look back at November and December. At that point we’ll also reveal our picks for our favorite 20 stories of the year.

Of course, we won’t stop reporting the news over the next ten days, but we hope you enjoy our look through the archives. So here we go. First up, the stories of January 2021.


At the very end of 2020, we got the stunning news that Judge Steven Kleifield had granted Scientology’s motion to divert the lawsuit filed by Danny Masterson’s accusers to the church’s own brand of “religious arbitration.” On the first day of the new year, we were still grappling with that news and talked to Ray Jeffrey about it for his perspective.

On January 5, we posted the news from Impact Magazine about which wealthy Scientologists were getting the church through the pandemic with their large donations.

Also on January 5, we decided that it might be best to ask readers to take their political observations to a separate platform, and we started up a new feature at our blog The Lowdown. It was a look at the QAnon phenomenon, and wow, was our timing kind of amazing. The next day, of course, was one that will live in infamy.

On January 7 we posted an eyewitness account of David Miscavige presiding over the New Year’s Eve party at the Fort Harrison Hotel. It was another indication that C.O.B. really has made Clearwater his home.

Four days later, we had another set of wealthy Scientology donors to celebrate, the richies who have sent in millions for book distribution!

On January 15, Scientology’s motion to sanction Valerie Haney $160,000 for simply asking Judge Burdge to reconsider his ruling about arbitration was denied by Burdge. So he didn’t add insult to injury, and it was at least a small relief.

Three days later, we had the first good leak of the new year: A source sent us never-before-seen photos from a 2001 Scientology mission opening in San Francisco that was chock full of celebrities. It took place just two weeks after 9-11, and the heavy celeb presence was a direct result of David Miscavige’s “wake up call.”

After several delays, on January 20 Danny Masterson’s attorney Tom Mesereau entered a not guilty plea as the actor was arraigned on rape charges.

The case was then assigned to Judge Charlaine Olmedo, and we noted that Danny’s prosecutor, Reinhold Mueller, has experience operating in her courtroom.

While Scientologist huckster Kevin Trudeau was nearing the end of his prison term, we noticed that he was already selling something that sounded a lot like Scientology.

Beginning on January 25, historian Chris Owen began his deep dive of Scientology in Russia, something we’ve been curious about for a long time (part 1, part 2, part 3).

It was shocking enough that Judge Steven Kleifield held out the idea that Danny Masterson might want to participate in the “religious arbitration” the church wanted his victims to take part in. But then Danny confirmed that he did intend to participate if that arbitration happens. Yikes.

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2020: Scientology arch spy Henning Heldt died, and we looked back at his infamous career. Sonya Bianchi, the original ‘Clear,’ died at 92. Brian Statler’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit over his fatal shooting by Inglewood police. Cedric Bixler-Zavala accused Scientology of poisoning his dog. Judge Richard Burdge granted Scientology’s motion to force Valerie Haney’s lawsuit into “religious arbitration.”


A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2019: Leah Remini’s ‘Aftermath’ series featured episodes on Paul Burkhart and Bert Schippers, Heather Ruggieri and Carol Nyburg, and a two-parter on the city of Clearwater. Scientology tried to pin a frightening stabbing death at the Advanced Org in Sydney on Leah. A new Advanced Org opened in South Africa. And Chris Shelton interviewed a new defector, Bree Mood, who said that Sea Org women are still being forced to get abortions.

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2018: Chris Owen delivered on the mysteries of L. Ron Hubbard and his parents. We printed revelations about Joy Villa from her ex-boyfriend and her ex-manager. We weighed in on Xenu or Xemu. Katrina Reyes finally got to tell her story of disconnection. Former Scientology spy Cierra Westerman came forward.

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2017: Brandon Reisdorf was featured on Aftermath. The LAPD snubbed Leah Remini. Marc Headley revealed that he was “bedsheet Jesus.” Billionaire Scientologist Trish Duggan made the scene at Trump’s inaugural. And Bernie Headley inspired us to start our ‘disconnected’ list.

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2016: A local police chief gets played by Scientology, but later thinks better of it. Researcher R.M. Seibert gets the lowdown on how Scientology is using ‘religious’ visas to bring in foreign workers. Karen de la Carriere gets a nasty letter from a Scientology attorney.

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2015: Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, and we were there. Scientology had taken out full-page ads in major newspapers attacking Gibney before the film debuted. And it made predictable attacks afterwards. And in a new release of old documents, John McMaster, the world’s first true “Clear,” revealed that L. Ron Hubbard expected to come back as his daughter Diana’s child.

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2014: We posted the Tommy Davis deposition from the Monique Rathbun lawsuit. Scientology’s own attorney discussed David Miscavige’s “black heart” in open court. Barbara Cordova Oliver went missing. Jefferson Hawkins wrapped up his series on Scientology “ethics.”

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2013: Lawrence Wright’s epic book Going Clear debuted, as did John Sweeney’s book, Luis and Rocio Garcia filed their federal fraud lawsuit, and Atlantic magazine screwed up big time.

Five of our favorites from the most-upvoted comments of January 2021

January 1: Newiga

This really is beyond fucked up. Forcing these poor women to sit through Scientology’s bogus arbitration with the man who brutally raped them. I am fuming.

January 16: otviii2late

Did you mention Scientology asking for people’s sexual histories again? Ugh. Takes me back to having to fill out a massive form, as a public, while on OT7. Under prying supervision and glaring fluorescent bulbs, I had to name every sexual partner I ever had, what acts we did specifically, how many times, details of any masturbation and any other sexual actions–or even sexual thoughts! Readers may not realize that once you are deeply invested in Scientology, believe this next service will be the very thing you really need, after you’ve moved heaven and earth to make the time and money to get to this point, when they give you one “last” questionnaire to fill out or a consent form to sign your rights away, if you even question it, you’ll get sent to Ethics and all that effort will have been for nothing. So you do it. It’s an all or nothing religion.

January 18: Andrea “i-Betty” Garner


So just two weeks after 9/11, the most devastating terrorist attack any of us had ever witnessed, these drooling idiots were laughing and joshing and celebrating at an event? To anyone who still thinks that Tom Cruise’s push to get New York’s first responders into Scientology’s quack detox was altruistic, look at this face and tell me: did he genuinely care, or did he see an opportunity to disseminate Scientology and safe point an entire city in mourning?

January 19: Surfer Joe

As of 2021, an accused and charged serial rapist is allowed by our judicial system to put his victims on trial- through his church. Only in America. Only in Scientology.

January 26: Phil Jones

They might call it arbitration, but Scientology provides no arbitration, ever. Arbitration is supposed to be a process of resolving a dispute or a grievance outside of the court system by presenting it to an impartial third party or panel for a decision. There is NEVER any impartiality in Scientology. Its decisions and actions are always for the benefit of Scientology completely. Whatever Scientology says it is providing it is not arbitration


Leah Remini podcast: Claire Headley on KRs

Says Mike: “We continue our discussion from last week about Committees of Evidence with Claire Headley, now covering the snitch culture of scientology and the subject of Knowledge Reports. It is one of the most important control mechanisms within the scientology world. As we normally do, I have included documents that give the whole story of things we mention.” Listen to the podcast right here!


Sign up for a daily email when we post a new story on Scientology.

Did you know you can get an email every morning when we post our daily Scientology story? We know some of the folks who come to the Underground Bunker aren’t here to talk about the politics of the day, and that’s why we created a daily politics feature over at our other blog, The Lowdown, and we ask readers to take their political discussions over there. And if you drop us a line at tonyo94 AT gmail, we’ll put you on the list so you get a morning reminder that a new Scientology story has been posted — and only for our Scientology stories.



Source Code

“Once in a while you’ll send a preclear up to the moon, and Earth and sun, you know, doing a Grand Tour, and you get a fascinating reaction from him if he is really on the ball. There’s a space station on the back of the moon — that’s space station 33 — and it has corridors and observatory domes and a lot of other things, a lot of odds and ends. But these corridors are on different levels. So that we have a hallway, you see, a corridor, and then we have one which is maybe 12 or 15 feet above the level. You see, the next level. So we’d go down this corridor, and then we’d have to go up 12 or 15 feet to go down to the next corridor. And they’ll take a look at this and they will see that there is nothing but sheer wall face between this lower corridor and the upper corridor floor — 15 foot sheer drop between these two corridors. And they will say, ‘Something is wrong here. There are no stairs. I don’t know what I’m doing here, or what’s going on, but this place is kind of funny. There are no stairs here.’ Why should there be any stairs where gravity is so slight?” — L. Ron Hubbard, December 21, 1954


Avast, Ye Mateys

“CHRISTMAS: I trust you like the place chosen for Christmas. Sure looks like a Christmas tree. It began by the pilots Out-PROing us. Remember that the pilots are not the rest of the harbour people and have their own set up. They sent us a lovely card, welcoming ‘the world’s largest yacht and its fantastic crew.’ Visit to port authorities went great. Plan to keep it very cool.” — The Commodore, December 21, 1969


Overheard in the FreeZone

“The Universe is a ‘natural’ Matrix — planet Earth is stuck in a distortion of this field as an artificial matrix — mass black magick rituals (wars, etc.) and faked realities and information fuel this matrix and produce peculiar inversions to shield these evil beings from discovery and the consequences of Natural Law (spiritual karma) — military and police are used as their ‘human shields’ — group agreement makes this a ‘hell on Earth.’ The tilting of planet Earth caused mankind to forage for meat to avoid starvation and set in motion the cycle of violence that we are still stuck in.”



Past is Prologue

1995: A first-person account was posted to a.r.s this week by Stanley Richards. He claims to have known Hubbard in 1952. “To tell the truth, though, I always knew that his genius contained an element of the charlatan or magician – perhaps ‘shaman’ would be a better word, because the shaman recognises the necessary element of illusion or fiction required by his work. For example, there were theories in scientology about our progress toward a near perfect emotional and mental state called ‘clear’ which I always knew to be a fiction, but which I supported because I thought it was a way of keeping people going in the process (therapy) – giving them hope and a future: hope as a necessary fantasy. Then there was the time, too, when he got everybody worked up about the threat of communism to Scientology: that the big boys in the Kremlin were out to destroy Scientology because it was a danger to them. Hubbard was the instigator of this scare. Every student was put through a lie detector test to ensure that there were no communist agents amongst us. Again, I knew that this was a fiction and that the Kremlin had never heard of Scientology, let alone thought it a danger to them. I went along with this, too, because I thought it was a political move which would boost the prestige of Scientology, making it more important in high places as well as giving scientology students a greater sense of their importance in the world. I am sure this was Hubbard’s motive, at least in part, so I forgave Hubbard all these deceptions because of what I thought were his overall good intentions. And that’s the thing you see: Hubbard was so sure that his intentions and his subject were for the good of mankind that he convinced everyone else – but that is what a good magician does: makes everyone believe in his illusions.”


Random Howdy

“Chinese food, Mexican food, good fish’n’chips and the occasional great hamburger and potatoes are all I need to live.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for February 8. Trial scheduled for August 29, 2022.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), false imprisonment, aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Next hearing scheduled for December 21.
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 January 22 in Los Angeles

David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for February 11.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Eleventh Circuit affirmed ruling granting Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Garcias considering next move.
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 held November 2, awaiting a ruling.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9, 2020 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] The Underground Bunker’s 2020 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[TWO years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2019 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[THREE years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2018 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[FOUR years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2017 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[FIVE years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2016 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[SIX years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2015 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[SEVEN years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2014 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[EIGHT years ago] Jon Atack: For Scientologists, thinking outside the church can feel like breaking a taboo
[NINE years ago] VIDEO: Tiziano Lugli’s “Shit Scientologists Say,” Featuring Prominent Ex-Church Members
[TEN years ago] Scientology Scuffle Over Xenu: When a Protester is Attacked!


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 2,521 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,026 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,546 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,566 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,457 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,764 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,632 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,406 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,737 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,210 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,526 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,092 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,011 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,179 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,760 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,021 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,057 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,772 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,297 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 652 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,827 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,378 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,527 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,847 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,702 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,821 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,177 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,480 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,586 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,984 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,860 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,443 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,938 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,192 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,301 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on December 21, 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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