Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Academics bleat over Scientology’s loss in appeals court, and here’s what they’re missing

We know, we know: What academics bellyache about has almost no significance whatsoever, and we should not be concerned with it. And the fact that the article we’re talking about appeared in the Wall Street Journal will get it more eyeballs, but when was the last time you turned to the WSJ for Scientology news?

To be fair, the Journal landed one of the best Scientology stories of all time when it was leaked a copy of the church’s secret IRS agreement and made it public back in 1997, so we’ll give them that. But for the most part (and we double-checked), the word “Scientology” only tends to appear in the Journal’s pages in regards to book reviews or entertainment tidbits.

Still, Emory Law Professor Michael Broyde’s piece criticizing last week’s court ruling, which appeared in yesterday’s print version of the Journal, will reach more readers than the average academic’s whine.

Because of our heavy coverage of the Danny Masterson saga, we noticed right away how misleading this thing was, and so we feel compelled to say something even if, we acknowledge, few people would have noticed or cared.


Here’s what we’re talking about. This is how Professor Broyde described the situation that resulted in last week’s landmark ruling by a California appeals court…

In Bixler v. Church of Scientology, the court ruled in favor of former members of the church who allege that they were raped by a church agent before leaving the faith. It held that they aren’t bound by an arbitration contract, a condition of church membership, in which they agreed that any claims against the church have to be submitted to Scientology arbitration tribunals.

This is shockingly misleading, and it stuns us that it passed the editors at the Journal.

It’s true that Chrissie Carnell-Bixler and the two women going by Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 allege that they were raped by “church agent” Danny Masterson while they were still Scientologists, in incidents that occurred between 2001 and 2003.

But that’s not what the lawsuit is about, and it wasn’t what last week’s ruling addressed.

We know this is complicated stuff, but it’s not hard to understand if you try: Chrissie and the other women allege that they were raped while they were in Scientology in 2001 to 2003, but they came forward to the LAPD after learning about each other in 2016. And the harassment they say they’ve been subjected to has occurred since then and continues to go on.

They are suing over the harassment they say is ongoing, and is occurring years after they left the Church of Scientology.

For Broyde to make it sound like they are suing Scientology over being raped, and “before leaving the faith” is irresponsible at best, and much worse if he actually understood what he was talking about.

What the appeals court said in very plain English in a highly readable ruling was that since the women were suing over recent allegations of abuse, Scientology couldn’t whip out contracts they had signed years earlier and require them to submit their claims to a church tribunal.

Michael Helfand, the Pepperdine professor we’ve quoted in the past, had his own complaints about the ruling at Eugene Volokh’s blog. Leading up to the ruling Helfand had told us that he expected that at some point a court might focus on the fairness issue and whether Scientology’s brand of arbitration was neutral enough. He pointed, for example, to Scientology’s requirement that the three arbitrators be “members in good standing” as something that might make Scientology’s legal strategy vulnerable to being overturned.

He’s surprised, he says in the Volokh piece, that the ruling didn’t address the fairness issue but instead turned on a First Amendment question about the women no longer being Scientologists.

His objections still leave us somewhat perplexed, however. Here’s an example that he conjures to explain what he thinks is wrong with the Bixler ruling.

By way of an example, consider the case of a synagogue that has in its membership application and agreement (which all prospective members must sign) a clause which states that any and all disputes shall be brought before a Beit Din (rabbinical court) whose judgment shall be final and binding. And imagine that a member leaves the synagogue either to join another synagogue or to join another religion without paying prior dues owed to the synagogue. Prior to Bixler, assuming that a court determined that the arbitral process was neutral and the disputes fell within the scope of the arbitration agreement, a court would presumably have compelled arbitration.

But this is a really strange example. He’s talking about “prior dues” that would have accrued while the person was still a member of the synagogue. Broyde, meanwhile, had conjured an equally irrelevant analogy about a cake baker and an obligation made while still under contract.


What is it about these professors that they can’t articulate what the court actually found, that the harm being alleged occurred after these women had left the church?

The appeals court made it very explicit: They were not ruling on allegations of abuse that occurred while the women were in the church. And they point to the Garcia case specifically to make that point: Yes, the Garcias sued Scientology after leaving the church, but the allegations they are suing over occurred while they were still in it, so they’re stuck.

Why is this so difficult for these academics to understand? They both act as if this ruling will undermine religions trying to enforce contracts, but again the ruling only applies to some former members suing over what happened to them after they left the church.

We do agree with Helfand that Scientology’s arbitration scheme is inherently unfair, and a court should, at some point, strike down its bogus contracts on that basis as well. But that’s, as they say, academic.

What matters is this: Chrissie and the Jane Does have a killer ruling that now puts them in the driver’s seat in this litigation.

And we look forward to academics in the future laying aside the analogies about cake bakers and coming to grips with the actual import of this case, which involves a retaliatory mafia-like organization that calls itself a church, accused of stalking and harassing rape victims and even killing their pets and setting fire to their homes.


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

“There was a tribe of Indians in the United States, some say before the arrival of white men, but they should re-classify that and say before the arrival of Pilgrims — before 1602, or something on that order, 1608, whenever they arrived — because that whole coast was in good communication with Europe for many centuries. Fishing boats from northern Europe used to come over to the grand banks all the time. As a matter of fact, the fishermen called it America, and we read a big fog about Columbus and all the rest of it. I’m sure Columbus came over, but Columbus never got to America. But anyhow, this is all very confused, but that’s history.” — L. Ron Hubbard, January 27, 1954



Avast, Ye Mateys

“CONDITIONS: Arthur Hubbard is assigned N/E for being non-existant on cleaning stations for the last 3 days.” — M. Spence, for W/O Des Popham, January 27, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“A natural clear is a baby OT and it has no pictures so a Natural clear must have come from the future created NEW with no MEST (matter energy space and time) memory system. SO this makes me untraceable since they can’t hook a beam onto a static but they can hook a beam on to a physical universe (MEST) memory system. So I assume Natural Clears are the first REAL OT’S because we don’t have to erase pictures does this make sense?”


Past is Prologue

1998: The AP carried an interview with jazz musician Chick Corea this week. “What led you to move to Clearwater, Fla., which seems somewhat removed from the centers of the music industry? ‘It was kind of a desire to get off the beaten path of big cities. I spend most of my time in big cities performing and traveling. And usually when I get home, I like to relax and spend some time with myself, my wife (singer Gayle Moran) and my family. I wanted to have a place where I can relax, write new music and practice. Also the attraction is that since the late ’70s, I’ve been coming down here with my wife once a year or so to do some Scientology courses. There’s a large Scientology organization right here in Clearwater that I’ve been attending occasionally through the years.'”



Random Howdy

“Ever read any of the crap the conspiracy cult followers believe in? And they number in the millions, not tens of thousands. Remember in The Mist where the people trapped in the supermarket immediately start their own cult ? That’s how most people think.”


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.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Last hearing was on January 18, referred to grand jury.
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 27 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for February 11.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Next hearing February 15.

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: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Scientology has said it will file an anti-SLAPP motion.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28.
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?


[ONE year ago] Scientology takes boards down after Inauguration riots failed to materialize
[TWO years ago] Scientology clown Joy Villa got glowing press again, and here’s what it left out
[THREE years ago] Oh, come on: Scientology ‘detox’ quackery now being touted for miraculous cures
[FOUR years ago] His words are wise, his face is beard: 10 years ago, Anonymous got some good advice
[FIVE years ago] Scientology, why are you keeping a cancer patient from seeing his only daughter?
[SIX years ago] 30 years ago today: ‘L. Ron Hubbard discarded the body he had used in this lifetime’
[SEVEN years ago] Why Alex Gibney’s ‘Going Clear’ is scaring the crap out of Scientology
[EIGHT years ago] More fallout in France: Scientologist who asked for damages ends up paying instead
[NINE years ago] Sunday Funnies: Africa is Done!
[TEN years ago] Scientology vs Marty Rathbun: An Unfair Fight?


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 2,557 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,062 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,582 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,602 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,493 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,800 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,668 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,442 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,773 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,246 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,562 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,128 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,047 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,215 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,796 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,057 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,093 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,808 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,333 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 688 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,863 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,414 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,563 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,883 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,738 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,857 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,213 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,516 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,622 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,020 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,896 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,479 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,974 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,228 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,337 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 27, 2022 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, 1995-2021 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2021), 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email