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Scientology’s 2021: Another year is in the books at the Underground Bunker!

Another year of the damn pandemic, and another year without a Howdycon. Yes, we have reasons to be glad to see the last of 2021. But on the other hand, this was a particularly strong year here at the Underground Bunker in terms of new sources, new leaks, and fascinating new stories.

We want to thank our readers for another trip around the sun with so much great interaction in our comments section. It’s what sustains us and keeps us going, year after year.

Before we get into our final looks back at this year, we will note that website “Dirt” reported last night that Danny Masterson’s move to withdraw his house from sale was apparently because he actually sold it. Dirt writer Mark David says that tax records indicate Danny got $6.2 million of the $6.995 million he was asking, and that the buyer of his Hollyridge Drive house is a Hollywood agent named Will Ward.

Does this mean that Danny has enough cash to cover the $3.3 million bond keeping him out of jail while awaiting trial and to pay for doubling his legal dream team? We have a new year starting tomorrow in which to find out!


Meanwhile, out of Arizona, there was a startling story last night as Kenny Thompson was found murdered in prison. Some of you may remember the rather unusual story we wrote in 2019 trying to explain that Thompson’s upbringing as a Scientologist in Alaska helped explain why, in 2012, he had driven from Missouri to Arizona after taking $10,000 in cash out of his bank account, arrived at his sister-in-law’s house, and then proceeded to murder her and her boyfriend and set fire to their house. What years of coverage in the case had failed to explain was that his sister-in-law had put her son, a boy Thompson had helped raise at one point, into the psych ward of a children’s hospital, and for a Scientologist this is like a death penalty. Thompson had apparently gone to the house to negotiate for custody of the boy, and had ended up on a murderous rampage.

We wrote this not to excuse what Thompson had done, but to give some perspective on his Scientology background that might help explain what he was thinking at the time. The testimony about Thompson’s Scientology upbringing didn’t sway his jury, which found him guilty of murder and sentenced him to death. And yesterday, he was apparently killed by another couple of inmates. Kenny’s unfortunate life is over.

OK, we still have a lot of ground to cover today. Let’s get into it.

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

We started off November with another Covid death of an OT Scientologist. This time it was a Californian who had moved to Texas in part because of its more anti-mask environment. Sorry, antivaxxer.

On November 2 we listened live to oral arguments in the appellate court review of the Danny Masterson/Scientology civil lawsuit that has been derailed by “religious arbitration.” And then just hours later we were stunned to learn that the appeal in the Garcia case on similar grounds had been struck down.

Our legal experts were less than impressed by the performance of the attorney for the Masterson accusers, but based on the questions the justices asked, we still think the appeal decision might go their way.

A new group approached us, saying they were recent defectors who planned to make public some ugly truths about Scientology. As a preview, they gave us an alarming tale about an animal abuser at the Portland org.

On November 5 we posted something we’d been working on for a while, a (mostly) full transcript of the infamous 1982 Mission Holders massacre held at a Hilton hotel in San Francisco, and checked for accuracy against audio recordings that Jon Atack supplied to us. This was a dramatic turning point for Scientology, and it’s good to have it so well preserved.

We noted that L. Ron Hubbard’s surviving son, Arthur, has begun to blog, and is arguing for an earlier, unsullied, version of Scientology.

We feel fortunate that we were able to interview Jim Dincalci about L. Ron Hubbard’s visit to New York City in 1972-73 for our book, and we were sorry to lose him this year after his long battle with cancer.

After a court hearing in Los Angeles, we related the news that one of our readers had spotted a well known LA attorney, Shawn Holley, with Danny Masterson’s legal team. Later, we were able to confirm with the court that Masterson has added Holley, who was once a member of OJ Simpson’s “Dream Team,” to his own legal squad.

On November 14, we had a startling document leaked to us. It purported to describe, step by step, how Scientology registrars should deceive Chase Bank employees in order to garner Scientologists a set of zero-interest credit cards that Scientology could then load up with debt. This “Chase Wave,” our leaker asserted, was used around the country until it caused such a backlash from Chase two years ago, it was shut down. Days later, we had confirmation, on the record, from recent Scientology defectors saying that they had been put through the Chase Wave.

Just a few days after establishing that kind of criminal behavior, we posted new evidence that Scientology, in 2021, is still forcing young women in the Sea Org to have abortions.


And then another November surprise. “LRH 2.0,” a/k/a ex-convict Justin Craig, who we had last heard was in Washington state, turned up in a Tennessee jail. He appears to be facing some pretty serious charges, and we’re watching his case.

As December began, we learned that David Miscavige had not only met secretly with Clearwater leaders, but he’d apparently lectured them for more than three hours about how he’d been mistreated by the city.

We heard from another recent defector, Adam Pires, who said he’d also had the credit card scam pulled on him by Scientology registrars, but in his case it was with his Navy Federal credit card, taking advantage of his status as a veteran. Classy, Scientology!

We noted that in the 14,000 words of their decision to allow a Narconon clinic, an Irish appeal court had not once used the word ‘Scientology.’ How are Scientology’s abuses ever going to be dealt with if governments refuse to take even the most cursory look at them?

On December 9, another great leak, of sorts. Reader PickAnotherID found that a unique WW2 diary had been put on line (it was the kind of thing soldiers weren’t supposed to record at the time), and it contained some pretty entertaining impressions of Lt. L. Ron Hubbard. You have to read the haircut scene.

Four days later, Chris Owen gave us a great explanation for why Scientology continues to lie about Hubbard’s war experiences: Because the myth of his war wounds is central to Scientology itself.

Scientology leader David Miscavige’s secret meetings with Clearwater leaders appeared to have had their effect: New city manager Jon Jennings announced that “We must develop a partnership with the Church of Scientology.” Mark Bunker wasn’t amused.

It had been a season of really interesting new people coming forward, and it continued on December 17 with an account by former Sea Org child Alden Anderson, and what finally began to break his spell.

And then, wow, what a way to end 2021. Starting on December 18, we’ve had a series of disclosures from a new insider, who has told us that Scientology has been hit hard by the pandemic, confirmed the chaos of the “Chase Wave,” and detailed the scam that is the Ideal Org program in new detail. Amazing stuff.

A LOOK BACK AT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020: A military vet takes a new, and more thorough, look at L. Ron Hubbard’s “stolen valor.” Julian and Katherine Wain, part of Leah Remini’s extended family, tell their Scientology escape story. Other exes tell the stories of what they would have missed if they’d stayed in the church. The London Ideal Org’s swanky new look. Steve Cannane is victorious in his ridiculous libel trial. Danny Masterson’s sketchy friends are ripe for investigation. The California state supreme court won’t consider Valerie Haney’s petition. Tom Cruise screams at the Mission: Impossible 7 crew over Covid protocols, and Leah Remini weighs in.

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.’

Six of our favorites from the most-upvoted comments of November/December 2021

November 2: flyonthewall

I get the impression a lot of times with legal matters, especially with appeals, that it is not so much determining wrong or right but ensuring the correct process was followed. Like you could obviously be in the right but it doesn’t matter because all the T’s got crossed and all the I’s got dotted and all the proper hoops were jumped through.

November 8: John P.

I can’t believe in 2021 that Arthur is still spouting some of the lamest pseudo-profound bullshit that his father eructated. I recall encountering Hubbard’s blather about “infinity valued” logic shortly after going down the Scientology rabbit hole nearly a decade ago. I have some familiarity with mathematical logic, having taken most of the undergrad logic classes offered by my alma mater, one of the top logic departments in the country. So when I read about the discoveries of noted logician L. Ron Hubbard, my blood pressure headed straight for the red zone. The notion of “infinity-valued logic” is complete nonsense, and the only people that would be excited by it are the people who remember “truth tables” (simple Boolean logic) from high school geometry or from a college intro to philosophy class. Boolean logic is also known as “two-valued logic,” since everything must be either true or false. But logicians have modeled more complex forms of logic, like “modal logic,” which deals with “must,” “may,” and other ways to think about statements that may not be fully true or false. All of these things are models to think about whether there’s an absolute reality to some domain of logic.

November 16: One Throwaway’y Boy

When I did Cause Resurgence in 2015, the Chase credit card thing was how they got most people to pay for Super Power. It was a pretty lucrative idea because most public knew they couldn’t afford Flag services but Cause was only $2500 bucks. Once a public arrived and started Cause they would immediately be ‘reffed’ for Super Power. Of course, in their minds they couldn’t afford it but the regges would tell them about the Chase credit card which from what I understood came with a credit line of up to $35k(I personally never got one but many people I befriended on the rundown did). These people were under the impression that it was all about the Cause Resurgence rundown and the theta of Flag that allowed them to “make it go right” to pay for Super Power. I know some people quit their jobs to stay at Flag and they thought they could go back home after Super Power and just make all that money back and more than enough to get back to Flag for the OT levels and Ls. Most of these people never made it back till today and I hear many are struggling financially regardless of the powerful Cause Resurgence and Super Power rundowns they completed.

December 2: Phil Jones

The City of Clearwater should get Miscavige to sign an arbitration agreement before any deal is made, that states he would have to go before a panel of arbiters chosen from a group of local ex-Scientologists, if the deal goes bad.


December 9: Kestrel

Lt. (Junior Grade) L. Ron Hubbard was a Senior Grade weasel. Thank you, Pick.

December 14: Patty Moher:

OSA has done a complete profile on Jon Jennings. They know all his likes and dislikes, what motivates him, what makes him tick and what buttons to push. They take that intel and lie and manipulate this guy into agreeing with them and their plans. They ask him to be reasonable. So Mr. Jennings will get played and then one day, like many of us, he will wake up and realized he’s been bamboozled by some real expert grifters.


Observer’s favorite shoops of 2021

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.

From Jeffrey Augustine…



Phil Jones…

Mark Parry-Maddocks…


Mark Parry-Maddocks…

Phil Jones…


And Richard…



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


20. Scientology’s ‘AtHome’ videos

In July, we caught on that Scientology, since the pandemic lockdowns had started in March 2020, had asked individual Scientologists to send in videos showing them keeping up with their L. Ron Hubbard studies while they were stuck at home. This “AtHome” feature had been going on and on, with the church posting about four new videos every day for more than a year. While a couple of thousand videos sounds like a lot, it was yet another suggestion that Scientology’s membership is in the tens of thousands overall, and nothing like the millions that it claims. But it also gave us an opportunity to get some sense of where Scientologists are actually located in 2021. We went to the trouble to record the location of every single one of the videos, more than 2,400 of them at last count, and the result suggested that today, Scientology is largely a going concern in places like Taiwan and Mexico, while it continues to shrink in its traditional strongholds of the US, Europe, the UK, Australia, and South Africa.



19. Saturday Night Live’s Scientologist

In April we revealed that Saturday Night Live’s sophomore sensation Chloe Fineman is the child of Scientology Clears, she has her own record of taking Scientology courses, and halfway through her first SNL season she provided tickets for a taping to a hardcore Scientology celebrity, actress Denice Duff. We pointed out how interesting this was because in 2015 SNL produced maybe the best parody of Scientology of all time, its brilliant music video “Neurotology.” Not only did the video poke fun at Scientology’s strange beliefs, but it also brought up the serious controversies surrounding the organization. SNL’s skewering of Scientology was both hilarious and damning. After our initial story about Fineman, we had a follow up that featured Adam Pires, a recent Scientology defector who provided a lot more detail suggesting that Chloe really is a very dedicated Scientologist.


18. Balance of Nature’s cozy relationship with Scientology

We got a lot of pushback from an attorney representing Balance of Nature who really didn’t like the story we posted in February, but we didn’t change a thing about it: We had an insider who gave us photos and documents showing not only that Scientology was being pushed on Balance of Nature’s employees, but that its headquarters literally housed a Hubbard College inside it. Since we published this kickass story, we continue to see the constant marketing that this seller of dietary supplements floods the Internet with, but no other news media organization has touched it.


17. The mysterious death of Kuba Ka

We got to like Jakub “Kuba Ka” Stepniak very much in 2017 when we heard that he had walked away from Scientology after it spent several months grooming him to become the Hollywood Celebrity’s next superstar. He told us that he planned to have his 26th birthday party at the Celebrity Centre in 2017, but officials there balked when he said he wanted to bring in sick kids from a local hospital so they could share in the festivities. Scientology, help sick kids? Was he crazy? Fast forward to this year, and we were stunned to learn that Kuba had died in April. And after we talked with his family, the mystery of what had killed him only grew. Our inquiries turned into a lengthy piece at the Daily Beast, which drew on work we had done here at the Bunker.



16. Leigh Dundas goes from antivaxx firebrand to Capitol rioter

We first noticed Leigh Dundas, a Scientology OT and “human rights attorney,” in 2020 as she made a name for herself as a firebrand anti-vaxx and anti-mask activist who had driven away an Orange County health official with her brand of political extremism. But this year she really upped her visibility with her remarkable couple of days at the US Capitol on January 5 and 6 as she took part in the speechifying and marching that ended up being a deadly insurrection. On January 5 she urged on a crowd with this rhetoric: “We would be well within our rights to take any alleged American who acted in a turncoat fashion and sold us out and committed treason, we would be well within our rights and take them out back and shoot ’em or hang ’em…” On the day of the riot, video showed that she had reached the doors of the capitol. And since then she’s seized the moment to become a barnstorming speaker on the Q-flavored political circuit. At least some on the far right, however, are not thrilled that Leigh is a Scientologist.


15. Nailing down the Mission Holder Massacre

It took a lot of work, but something we were very satisfied to put together for the Bunker this year was in regards to one of Scientology’s most important historical events. A reader had found, buried in some legal papers, a nearly complete transcript of the notorious “Mission Holder Massacre” of 1982, when the upstarts in the Commodore’s Messenger Organization, including a very young David Miscavige, delivered rebukes to what had been a relatively independent Scientology mission network. When we realized that the transcript was edited by Scientology, and that Jon Atack had (poor quality) audio recordings of the event, we did the work to correct the transcript to reflect what was on the tapes. For the first time something approaching an accurate and full record of what had happened in that fateful meeting was made available for the larger public. It provides a fascinating experience of what it was like to see these upstarts detail the new “ruthless” Scientology.


14. Rizza Islam grows as a menace

At almost the same time that Rizza Islam, a Scientology/Nation of Islam figure, was named one of the Internet’s 12 worst sources of anti-vaccination disinformation, the ABC network gave him a platform in an uncritical appearance. And after that, Rizza got another endorsement from none other than Alex Jones, who professed that he was envious that he was left off of the disinfo list. And all this while Islam is awaiting trial on felony Medi-Cal fraud charges in Los Angeles. How many times does Rizza Islam have to prove what a menace he is before the Los Angeles Times devotes even a single word to him?



13. Anti-vaxx Scientologists pay the price

Watching the social media feeds of a lot of Scientologists over the last few years, we’re very familiar with how they tend to be Alex Jones-type conspiracy obsessives with a strong anti-vaccination bent. So when the pandemic started, although the church itself was making a big show of masks, gloves and “Decon 7” decontamination, individual Scientologists often expressed antimask, antimandate and antivaccine positions. So it maybe wasn’t a huge surprise to learn that some of them paid the ultimate price for their leanings, including OT Scientologists Brian Duimovich, Sergio Rojo (pictured), and a Scientologist who moved from California to Texas in part for its anti-mask environment. Get the jab, people.


12. Revealing one of Scientology’s shadowy ‘bag men’

Mike Rinder had previously revealed that one of Scientology’s ‘bag men,’ as he called it, longtime dirty-tricks operators for the church, was a man named Russ Andrews. This year, we managed to find that Andrews had a hate-filled social media stream that was jammed with attacks on gay and trans people. It also contained some nice photos of him, and so we decided to put a face with a name. But beyond identifying this longtime Scientology operator, we also received some rather amazing material detailing how Andrews was used to tail individual members of Anonymous, and even some video from the operation. We have the best leakers!


11. Bruce Hines pens stunning narratives


For years we’ve had a lot of admiration for Bruce Hines, a former Sea Org Scientologist who teaches college physics. He helped us in our series exploring Scientology’s “Bridge” years ago, but this year he surprised us with a couple of great narratives about his experience in the Sea Org. First, how he escaped it, and second, how it had broken his spirit. Bruce also featured in a story we wrote for the Daily Beast about Scientology and 9-11.


10. David Miscavige’s whining wins in Clearwater

Tracey McManus has been doing an amazing job at the Tampa Bay Times exploring the way Scientology leader David Miscavige reacted to the city of Clearwater foiling his attempt to get his hands on a small 1.4-acre city plot by having his minions buy up other city properties as revenge. He also turned his back on city leaders, who were still trying to revive the downtown area. Then, late this year, city councilman Mark Bunker let us know that when Miscavige held a secret meeting with the mayor, a new city manager, and a new city attorney, the Scientology leader had turned it into a 3.5-hour bitchfest. But Dave’s whining about how the city was treating him apparently may be paying dividends: that new city manager, Jon Jennings (pictured) announced to the city council that he had held additional conversations with Miscavige and was convinced the city needs to develop a “partnership” with the church. Bunker is not amused.


9. ‘Real Water’ becomes a real nightmare

For years we had kept an eye on Brent Jones and his wife Aimee because of their involvement in Nevada politics. Brent was one of the few Scientologist elected officials in the country, and Aimee had wanted to gain office herself when they were both defeated in a 2018 primary election. And Brent’s history of questionable activities went way back, as our colleague Ron Russell explored many years ago when Brent, an attorney then, was involved in a bizarre case of a brain-damaged Scientologist being drained dry of a court settlement. Anyway, one thing that Brent and Aimee were known for was their “Real Water” scam, which had been exposed multiple times as a re-packaging of Las Vegas city water with more “electrons” added, that, no matter the debunkings, was still popular with people who maybe are easily swayed. Anyway, this year Real Water turned out to be harming people to the point that some of them had been put on short lists for liver transplants before recovering. They’re now suing, Real Water has been put out of business by the FDA, and we’re still waiting to see what the upshot is for Brent and Aimee personally. The takeaway: Never trust a Scientologist when it comes to health claims. Never.



8. Solving a mystery: L. Ron Hubbard and Leni Riefenstahl

One of the odd footnotes of Scientology history is that in 1960 L. Ron Hubbard had taken time out of his busy schedule running the organization in London to work with Leni Riefenstahl on a screenplay. It was to be a remake of ‘The Blue Light,’ an alpine fantasy that Riefenstahl had made before she became more well known as a propaganda master for Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party with her films ‘Triumph of the Will’ and ‘Olympia.’ In 1960 Riefenstahl was hoping to resurrect her career by working with Hubbard, but since then there was very little known about the collaboration. Then, we got a huge break: A reader had found a copy of their actual screenplay in a UK archive, and gave us a copy. We then tracked down the family of the person who had brought Hubbard and Riefenstahl together, and were able to tell the whole story over at the Daily Beast. At the Bunker, meanwhile, we showed a few pages of the screenplay itself. Other new finds in Hubbard history this year included some memories of him that turned up in a prohibited WW2 diary. It was great stuff.


7. The Jay Spina sentencing

It’s always a banner day when we get to cover a courtroom hearing live for the Underground Bunker. And this year we got to do it multiple times, and one didn’t involve travel: In April, chiropractor and Scientology donor Jay Spina was sentenced on Medicare fraud charges at the federal courthouse in White Plains, New York, and we nabbed a seat for the show. And while Spina was all smiles in the hallway outside, Judge Kenneth Karas was not in a happy mood, saying that the charges against Spina made his “blood boil.” Not only had Spina and his brother Jeff created an elaborate setup to defraud the system, but they also pushed the use of dangerous injections that had resulted in at least one death. And when the son of the woman who died tried to complain, Jay Spina went after him in a very Scientological way. When Spina was given an opportunity to make a statement, we were floored when we realized that he literally quoted L. Ron Hubbard! He got 9 years.


6. Texts reveal Scientology stalking of Leah Remini and Jennifer Lopez

A bizarre lawsuit about something completely unrelated produced a wild result for us here at the Bunker. It was a disclosure of text messages from the phone of a retired NYPD detective named Yanti Mike Greene, who, it turned out, had been hired, by Scientology he indicated, to tail Leah Remini while she was filming a movie in New York with her good friend Jennifer Lopez, ‘Second Act.’ The funny thing is, at the time that filming was going on, in 2017, Leah had told us she knew she was being stalked, and we wrote about it and had even confronted Greene in a phone call. He denied that he was following her. But now we had his texts, and we wrote it up for the Daily Beast. At the Bunker, meanwhile, we produced the texts themselves. The most startling thing in them was Greene’s frightening claim that Scientology wanted Leah dead!



5. Ron Miscavige, 1936-2021

This was a tough one. We knew for some time that Ron Miscavige was in failing health, and on June 24 we decided to make that public in order to help Ron raise money for his wife Becky to help with the costs she’d be facing. We had first begun communicating with Ron shortly after he made his daring escape from his son’s Scientology compound in California in 2012, and we had always enjoyed talking with him about what it was like to speak out about Scientology. Ron took the brunt of a huge smear campaign from his son, but he never complained about it. When we got the word that Ron had died on June 28, we posted a touching remembrance of him written by his “Ruthless” co-author, Dan Koon. We continue to miss Ron greatly.


4. The ‘Chase Wave’ and a new Insider

Maybe it’s a sign that Scientology really is hurting, more than a year into the pandemic, because recently the new people coming forward to leak us information have been pretty amazing. One of them brought us a document that purported to be a step-by-step set of instructions for how Scientology “registrars” were to lie to Chase Bank employees in order to take out zero-interest credit cards for Scientologists with bad credit. This “Chase Wave” would result in those low-income Scientologists obtaining large credit lines that would then be maxxed out with charges to Scientology, impoverishing the church members. Our source claimed that this became so widespread, there was a backlash and Chase cut the church off. We subsequently had multiple people come forward and, on the record, say that they had been victimized in the Chase Wave or witnessed it. And this was followed by another new source, a current insider, who, in a set of lengthy messages, spelled out how much Scientology has been damaged by the pandemic and by David Miscavige’s mismanagement. The leaks this fall have been plentiful and amazing.


3. Suing Scientology gets harder and harder

One of the major purposes of this website is to keep an eye on litigation involving Scientology, and in recent years that has largely meant one issue more than any other: “religious arbitration.” It’s a complex legal issue and one that Scientology has successfully used to derail some high-profile lawsuits against the church, in particular cases filed by former Sea Org worker Valerie Haney, and another by Danny Masterson’s rape accusers. This year, Valerie unsuccessfully took her arbitration ruling to the US Supreme Court, but the Masterson accusers have had better luck. The California Supreme Court agreed to have an appeals court review the ruling that had hobbled their lawsuit. In November, we were watching live along with our readers as that hearing was held online by the appeals court, and our experts discussed how the both sides did. (Pictured above, Marci Hamilton for the accusers, and Andrew Brettler, Danny Masterson’s attorney.) Then, in bizarre timing, a separate appeal ruling we’d long been waiting for came in, with Scientology winning another victory in the Garacia case. Now we’re still waiting for a ruling in the Masteron lawsuit, but in the meantime Scientology’s contract argument is keeping its former members from being able to sue over harm that occurs even years after they have left the church.



2. Rare video of Shelly Miscavige turns up

In a year of significant leaks, this was a striking one that yielded an even bigger result. In January, a new source had leaked to us never-before-seen photos from a 2001 Scientology mission grand opening in San Francisco. It was especially significant because it took place just a couple of weeks after 9-11 and after Tom Cruise had read the riot act to other Scientology celebrities, telling them to get on board with David Miscavige’s “wake up call.” So there was a massive turnout of Scientology celebs, especially for something as minor as a mission opening. (A mission, in fact, that changed locations just weeks later). But then, even better, we were leaked video taken at the event, and it contained something truly stunning: Some of the only footage known of David Miscavige’s missing wife, Shelly. The footage, again, is from 2001, and it shows Shelly and Dave’s “communicator” Laurisse “Lou” Stuckenbrock following Dave around as he inspects the event. Shelly looks fit and stylish, as was her reputation. Some four years after the footage was taken she disappeared. We know of only two other instances of Shelly on video: From a 2004 event in Madrid, and from the crazy music video “We Stand Tall.”


1. Danny Masterson’s preliminary hearing in Los Angeles

We want to thank the readers of the Underground Bunker for hanging out with us (virtually, at least) while we sat in the front row of Department 105, the Los Angeles courtroom of Judge Charlaine Olmedo, with famous defense attorney Tom Mesereau just feet in front of us, as we sat through the four days of the Danny Masterson preliminary hearing in May. Danny is facing 45 years to life in prison if he’s convicted of the three violent rapes he’s accused of, and the “prelim” was a big step on the way. At its conclusion, after four days of harrowing testimony by Danny’s three accusers, Judge Olmedo ruled that enough evidence had been presented to justify having a criminal trial. (Later, Danny was arraigned again — pictured — and Judge Olmedo subsequently set the date of August 29, 2022 for the trial.) We ran out to the hallway during recesses to type up our notes to our waiting audience, and only later realized what a fuss got kicked up in the comments section when we casually noted, during one of those recesses, that we’d been served a subpoena by Mesereau. Ah, the drama. (Later, our attorneys got that subpoena quashed at another hearing.) You can still experience those days in Los Angeles along with us by taking a look at our lengthy notes: Day one, day two, day three, and day four. For us, this is the kind of story that is the reason that this website exists. And we are looking forward to more in August.


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

“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


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


Overheard in the FreeZone

“E=mc2 is a flawed idea. Yes, it’s true that matter is really just solidified energy. But what’s been left out is the thetan. The thetan, who has no location in time and space, adds and subtracts energy and mass at will to the Universe as he sees fit. If, as an OT, I see a bus about to careen into a bunch of school kids and I decide to change the trajectory of the bus to spare the lives of these children, where does the energy to do that come from? Me! I create it from ‘whole cloth’ and add it to this universe.”


Past is Prologue

1998: MSNBC reported on the lawsuit against Scientology by Michael Pattinson. “Former Scientologist Michael Pattinson is claiming that he paid the church $500,000 to ‘cure’ him of his homosexuality. It didn’t work, he says. Among the eye-popping allegations in the suit: that Travolta’s plane was used to ‘kidnap’ a member of Scientology, that Pattinson and others were forced to work in ‘a robotic slave-like work force’ to service Scientology celebrities like Travolta, Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley, and that Pattinson ‘reasonably relied upon’ Travolta’s marriage to fellow Scientologist Kelly Preston as proof that ‘Scientology processing and courses would handle my own homosexuality.'”



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’.”


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 January 18.
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.
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.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.



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?


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


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 2,531 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,036 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,556 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,576 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,467 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,774 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,642 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,416 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,747 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,220 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,536 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,102 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,021 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,189 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,770 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,031 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,067 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,782 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,307 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 662 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,837 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,388 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,537 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,857 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,712 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,831 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,187 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,490 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,596 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,994 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,870 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,453 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,948 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,202 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,311 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on December 31, 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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