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Another crucial Scientology eyewitness coming forward, starting today at the Bunker

 
Louise Shekter is a well known name to Sea Org members who sailed with L. Ron Hubbard. Her career in Scientology is rather astounding, from serving on the Apollo, to a stint in the Guardian’s Office, and much more. She’s never spoken publicly about her experiences before, but we’re incredibly excited that she’s beginning to tell her story right here at the Underground Bunker. In this first piece, she orients us in a transitional point not only for her, but for Scientology itself.

 
October 9, 1969. Our four day long, exhausting journey from the Athena in Denmark to the Apollo, sleeping in train seats and eating meager sandwiches all the way, with just enough time for connections in Paris and Madrid, has finally ended, or so we think.

There are seventeen of us new recruits, led by SO veteran Frank McAll. By the time we spend a highly uncomfortable night sleeping on the floor of the Algeciras ferry terminal, persecuted by a swarm of kamikaze mosquitoes, we figure out that our destination is Tangier. We are guessing because this is a mystery journey, where no final destination has ever been specified – only the end point of each current leg. We actually don’t know where we are going. Bizarre. Why the secrecy, I wonder. I am barely one month into my Scientology and my Sea Org career — both of which

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started on the same day when I joined the Athena in Elsinor, Denmark, right off the dock, as a naïve and keen nineteen year old with dreams of exploration, both around the world and within the mind. (But that is a story for another time.)

Morocco! This is 1969 and the country has acquired a near mystical aura in this time of pot smoking hippies After the glorious crossing of the strait of Gibraltar, the ferry dumps us in the indescribable hustle bustle of the Tangier docks, in amongst the melee of hawkers and gawkers of all types. Hit by sensations so overwhelming that that I feel like I’ve landed on a different planet – factually a different continent – I do find small comfort in the discovery that my native French is universally understood in this former French colony.

Are we there yet? Nope, another rush to yet another train. This one is a highly uncomfortable local, which traverses for several hours a fascinating landscape where plump, bright yellow melons grow right on the parched sandy soil, a study in contrasts so powerful that these images are still vivid for me to this day – to say nothing of the fact that said melons will soon become a staple of my new diet.

Casablanca! We have arrived, mystery solved at last. A proper meal and a proper bed are in the offing, hopefully a shower too. Alas we are not headed for the European heart of the white city, but for the industrial docks.

As I grab my little suitcase out of the van and first cast eyes on the Apollo, my first impression is one of utter astonishment. With the Athena as my only reference, this ship is huge, and a rush of excitement overtakes my exhaustion. Will this really be my new home? In the golden light of early evening, her hull is gleaming white, spotless. But the rest of the scene is appalling. The dock alongside her is clearly in major work mode, with power tools and large paint buckets strewn around.

 

 
But what is most shocking is the sand. It is everywhere. On the dock, up the gangway, and on the aft deck where I first set foot aboard, my steps leave clear tracks in the coarse sand that covers every surface. An alarming thought starts to intrude: my new home is no cruise ship. The sand, I soon come to find out, comes from the fact that the crew has just completed sandblasting the entire hull to remove the old black paint. The ship has just acquired its new white livery. This operation will go down in Sea Org history as the Sahara campaign.

As we are collecting our belongings on the dock, a number of the ship’s crew, mostly young men in rough work clothes, have gathered on the aft well deck and are leaning on the rail next to the gangway, silently sizing us up. Our little group clearly generates more than passing curiosity. I later guess that for this overworked, exhausted crew, the arrival of these long awaited reinforcements brought a tremendous relief, to say nothing of the excitement of having fresh new faces join their ranks

We are led to our berthing quarters to drop off our gear. I am assigned to the women’s dorm, deep down in the stern of the vessel next to the rudder room, on the starboard side. Then we are gathered again for a brief tour of the ship and a briefing. We are now taken in charge by a new crew member, Frank McAll having completed his mission, and we are handed our assignments. Crestfallen, I learn that I am posted to the stewards’ division, while the guys in our group are assigned to deck work. This is an unsurprising yet annoying gendered choice. I’d much rather work on the decks, as I’ve been painting and varnishing our family’s boats since an early age.

I am led to the galley, shown the sink and the pile of dirty dishes from the just completed dinner, and told to get to work. Yes, I have traveled all this way to be a dishwasher. THE dishwasher, it seems, as the previous incumbent wastes not a second in moving on to whatever else. And yes, it is all done by hand, there is no dishwashing machine on this vessel. There are still a couple of hours left on the ship’s daily work schedule before the crew can turn in for the night, and no provision is made for the fact that we new arrivals are all exhausted, having lugged our tired bodies and meagre belongings for four days across two continents. I am a very long way from home in Montreal, and a long way from full time study of the intriguing principles of Dianetics on the Athena.

Welcome aboard, and welcome to the Sea Org. Little by little, almost without a conscious decision on my part except to stay put on a daily basis and get pulled along on the adventure, this group, and these beliefs, will take hold over my entire life. Scientology will own me for thirty years, and the Sea Org for fifteen of those. But that too is a story for another day.

— Louise Shekter

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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.

 
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Source Code

“You can do this trick yourself if you want to: Hypnotize somebody and have them go home and go to sleep. Then after they get home and go to sleep, so forth, you walk over in your astral body and wake them up and talk to them and give them a message and tell them they are supposed to call you at 10:15 the next morning and tell you the house is on fire. Then you come back in your astral body and get back inside yourself and you go to sleep yourself. At 10:15 the next morning, why, they will call you up and say, ‘I don’t know why, but I have a terrific compulsion to tell you the house is on fire.’” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 2, 1952

 
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Avast, Ye Mateys

“There is squirrel tech. In this an auditor runs off beat non-standard processes. We’ve long since handled this. There is squirrel admin. People who have out admin TRs and do not know basic lines add to standard lines or knock them out. We are working to handle this with OEC, FEBC and Admin TRs now being done and further developed. There is also squirrel cookery. This normally arises from not having the proper ingredients to hand (supply failure) and not having anyone to wash and slice and peel raw materials so they can be cooked. A standard meal comes from planned menu, correct supply, correct preparation of raw materials and following the exact recipe. From this comes edible meals. This goes into other lines of tech as well.” The Commodore, February 2, 1971

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“I was too late to stop Scientology from getting infiltrated. The reptilians came down from the future too, to infiltrated Scientology from inside with these sleeper children that will wake up in the future controlled by reptilians and take over Scientology from inside. I was also audited on my other time lines and there was another million of time lines from the spirit I came from that were also free of this mind too and they would raise the vibrations of the planet. So what we are doing is we are replacing everyone eventually with new entities with no physical universe mind that can be implanted. So they can’t use mind control on us or fill our minds with garbage since we are created new in the future with no mind, because the spirit doesn’t need this mind. A spirit can just know. So that is how we are wining this game.”

 
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Past is Prologue

1997: Gerald Armstrong filed a packet with Judge Whyte this week, asking that he be allowed to provide testimony for Grady Ward, Keith Henson and Dennis Erlich. He argues that the order requiring him to remain silent is illegal, and was coerced by Scientology’s threats. Some excerpts: “I have been sued by the Scientology organization five times since 1982 in its continuing effort to prevent me from speaking the truth and to destroy me financially. I have been throughout this time a world-wide target of Scientology’s character assassination campaign or ‘black propaganda,’ which it also calls ‘dead agenting.’ Grady Ward, defendant herein, posted a request for declarations concerning knowledge of fair game operations, and specifically ops involving organization private investigator Eugene M. Ingram. Mr. Ward stated that the declarations are needed fairly urgently. I have such knowledge, some of which I will provide below. I am submitting this declaration directly to the Court because of an order filed October 17, 1995. By that order, I am prohibited from: ‘Voluntarily assisting any person (not a government organ or entity) arbitrating, or litigating adversely to any of the Beneficiaries’. The ‘Beneficiaries’ are: The Church of Scientology International, its officers, directors, agents, representatives, employees, volunteers, successors, assigns and legal counsel. I believe the order and judgment are illegal on their faces, and obtained by Scientology through illegal tactics. The ‘contract’ which the ‘order’ enforces was obtained by Scientology through threat, fraud, related criminal activities, and the vitiation of my lawyers.”

 
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Random Howdy

“As a 49ers/Patriots fan with 8 Super Bowl wins between them, I feel Jimmy’s pain.”

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

Criminal prosecutions:

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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 March 25 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.

 
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THE PROSECUTION OF DANNY MASTERSON

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.

SCIENTOLOGY: FAIR GAME

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.

LEAH REMINI: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE AFTERMATH

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.

SCIENTOLOGY’S CELEBRITIES, from A to Z

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?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] Ever wanted to tour Scientology’s creepy ‘spiritual mecca’? Meet your guide, Ted
[TWO years ago] Professional ham hock Grant Cardone: I’m giving up the Super Bowl for Scientology
[THREE years ago] The presidential candidate, the controversial guru, the Scientology lawyer — and us!
[FOUR years ago] David Mayo, 1940-2017: Scientology’s top technical wizard and target of ‘Fair Game’
[FIVE years ago] Fed up with Scientology disconnection? Be there to dedicate the new ‘Call Me’ billboard Feb. 18
[SIX years ago] The particularly bad timing of Monique Rathbun’s decision to fire her attorneys
[SEVEN years ago] The shocking case of Scientology mistreatment of the mentally ill you haven’t heard
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology’s drug rehab facility in Nevada sued over the usual litany of deceptions
[NINE years ago] Scientology Mythbusting with Jon Atack: The Tomato Photo!
[TEN years ago] Scientology in France: Still Guilty of Fraud

 
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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 2,563 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,068 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,588 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,608 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,499 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,806 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,674 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,448 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,779 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,252 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,568 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,134 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,053 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,221 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,802 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,063 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,099 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,814 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,339 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 694 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,869 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,420 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,569 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,889 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,744 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,863 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,219 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,522 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,628 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,026 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,902 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,485 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,980 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,234 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,343 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on February 2, 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

 

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