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SCIENTOLOGY DENIED: Appeals court refuses to rehear arbitration ruling in Masterson case

[Chrissie Carnell-Bixler and Danny Masterson]

The landmark ruling by a California appeals court in January that restored a civil lawsuit against Danny Masterson and the Church of Scientology will stand. Yesterday, the court denied Scientology’s petition for a rehearing, which our experts had said was a longshot.

Meanwhile, our media contact at the court informed us that the decision cannot be appealed to the California state supreme court because it was the state supreme court that had granted review in this case and asked the appellate court to handle the matter. This is a supreme court ruling already, our media contact told us.

We have not been able to confirm that with another figure at the court, but if our contact is correct then Scientology’s only other recourse would be to petition the US Supreme Court, which is an extremely long shot.

It’s looking like despite Scientology’s objections, and the complaints of some academics, the Danny Masterson accusers will not have to go through Scientology’s “religious arbitration,” and their lawsuit can now continue.

Wow. What a turn of events.


We know these cases are complex, but here’s what you need to know: In 2019, Chrissie Carnell-Bixler, her husband Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Bobette Riales, and two women going by Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 sued Masterson, Scientology, and Scientology leader David Miscavige, alleging that they had been subjected to years of harassment, hacking, and even their pets being harmed or killed because the four women had come forward to the LAPD in 2016 with allegations that Masterson had raped them in incidents between 2001 and 2003. The civil lawsuit was about the harassment, not the sexual assaults themselves. Masterson was later charged criminally for raping Carnell-Bixler and the two Jane Does, and he’s facing 45 years to life in prison if he’s convicted at trial, which is scheduled to begin on August 29.

While the criminal case was gathering steam, the civil lawsuit, which had actually come first, was derailed when Scientology successfully convinced Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Steven Kleifield that the four former Scientologists (all but Riales), had signed contracts while they were in the church that obliged them to take any grievance to Scientology’s brand of arbitration and not to sue in court. Kleifield not only granted that motion, denying their right to trial, but also ruled that Danny Masterson could take part in the arbitration, which the That ’70s Show actor indicated he planned to do.

But then the state supreme court granted review in the case and directed the appeals court to handle the matter. A hearing was held in November, and then in January the appeals court handed down its stunning ruling, overturning Kleifield’s decision that had put the case in limbo.

The appeals court ruled that because the harm that was being alleged — the stalking, hacking, and mistreatment of pets and other things — occurred after the former Scientologists had left the church, the contracts they signed while they were still members didn’t apply. Carnell-Bixler, Bixler-Zavala, and the two Jane Does had the First Amendment right to leave a religion, the court said, and that included walking away from the contracts.

Scientology petitioned for a rehearing, complaining that the court had gone beyond what the Masterson accusers were arguing or had put into briefings, and that the court’s decision went farther than any court before in wiping away such an arbitration agreement. But the court has denied Scientology’s petition for a rehearing without any explanation.

This news in the civil case comes just a week after Masterson also suffered a loss in the criminal case when his motion to have the case thrown out was denied, and his attorney’s new set of subpoenas for the victims were quashed. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Scientology celebrity. And for the church.

UPDATE: Besides denying Scientology’s ask for a do-over, the appeals court also sent a memo to the state supreme court recommending that its opinion not be published, which had been requested by Ford Greene and the lawyers for the Masterson accusers, and opposed by Scientology. Here’s the relevant language in the memo:

It is the view of this court that the issues involved are not such that the opinion meets the criteria for publication specified in rule 8.1120. This was the original view of the members of the panel participating in the opinion, and after re-examination and reconsideration of the matter of publication, we still consider that view to be valid. Inasmuch as the decision in this matter has become final as to this court, pursuant to rule 8.1120, this court is referring the matter to the Supreme Court in the above context.

So it looks like for now this ruling will only apply in the Masterson/Scientology lawsuit, and won’t be citable in other cases, which is disappointing.


Meanwhile, last night in midtown

You never know what kind of riffraff you’re going to run into in Gotham.




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Source Code

“Get a picture of a cat and say it belongs in 1810. A picture of a cow and say it belongs in 1830. Picture of a pig, say it belongs in the year 1. A picture of a woman, say it belongs in the second century BC. Continue with that exercise, any picture, any date. Any picture, any date. OK. Now let’s find some places you are not. All right.” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 16, 1954


Avast, Ye Mateys

“AMONGST THE STARS: Bill Franks – Clear OT; Bill Franks – L10; Lucy Mielczarek – OT VII; Rob Sanderson – OT II, Anthony Azzarella – Grade V Power Plus Release; Richard Peterson – Grade V Power Release; Bill Franks – FEBC Internship; Elith Schaltz – FEBC; Mike Rubio – FEBC; Bill Tucker – Management Power Rundown; Bruce Stern – Org Officer/Prod Officer Mini Hat; Susan Prieur – 3rd Class Missionaire; Susan Rubio – 3rd Class Missionaire; Suzette Hubbard – Moped Operator.” — Love, George C & A, February 16, 1971



Overheard in the FreeZone

“While it seems true that LRH didn’t complete his engineering degree, he had some engineering schooling, he was a consummate engineer in how he thought; and many engineers were confident he had an engineer’s mind, including my father who was a software engineer. I was once shown a 1950 dictionary whose entry for Dianetics read ‘a mental science developed by American engineer, L. Ron Hubbard,’ and so I wonder if history has been revised/files have been corrupted, as dictionary writers tend to do good research work, I think.”


Past is Prologue

1997: Dave Touretzky reported a probable sighting of a Scientology private investigator at his home. Dave maintains the NOTS Scholar’s web site, which Scientology has threatened legal action against in the past few months. “On Friday Feb. 7, 1997, as I was leaving my apartment, I ran into the apartment complex’s maintenance man, Rich, who asked me if the ‘CMU investigator’ who was looking for me had managed to get hold of me. I asked him what he was referring to. It turns out that a few days before, Rich had spotted a suspicious-looking guy with an RCA camcorder filming the parking lot and my apartment building. The guy then went into my building and came out again. (I wasn’t home.) Rich asked him what he was doing, and the guy told him that he was an investigator for CMU (Carnegie Mellon University, my employer), and he wanted to speak with me. He asked Rich some questions about me, specifically, had they had any trouble with me such as wild parties or drugs. Rich figured I was being checked out for a job, so he gave the guy his own name and answered his questions as best he could. There was no dirt to tell; I’ve always had a good relationship with my landlord. The guy also said he’d heard that I was ‘a computer whiz,’ and asked about that, but Rich didn’t know anything about it. I informed CMU’s lawyer of these events. He was not amused to hear that a PI was running around claiming to work for the university. Perhaps OSA is planning a burglary. I am taking appropriate precautions.”


Random Howdy

“It’s just like the mob, if you’re a money maker, you’re golden. You can molest the kids, murder your mistress etc but as long as you’re UPSTAT you’re a HERO. This statement by Hubbard is all the proof that the indies or anyone else should ever need to convince them that it was never about anything else except the money.”



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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next pretrial conference May 31. 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 April 8.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Hearing held on February 15, awaiting ruling.

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. 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] That Scientology spying operation on Anonymous? Yeah, we have video too
[TWO years ago] Scientology and eyesight: The familiar totem of claiming clarity of vision to emulate Ron
[THREE years ago] In homophobic Scientology, you are required to write up your sins or else
[FOUR years ago] Scientology scare tactics used against woman who reported its quack therapy for kids
[FIVE years ago] Louis Theroux enjoys UK award for ‘My Scientology Movie’ ahead of US release
[SIX years ago] Science Fiction smackdown: L. Ron Hubbard, the pith helmet-wearing ‘pipsqueak Prometheus’
[SEVEN years ago] The paranoid, depressed L. Ron Hubbard: Jim Dincalci’s 1997 ‘Secret Lives’ TV interview
[EIGHT years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology is having a grand re-opening at Big Blue this Saturday!
[NINE years ago] Scientology Mythbusting with Jon Atack: And With Help From Harlan Ellison!
[TEN years ago] Scientology’s Secret Ranch: Where LRH Will Reincarnate?


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 2,577 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,082 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,602 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,622 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,513 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,820 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,688 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,462 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,793 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,266 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,582 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,148 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,067 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,235 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,816 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,077 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,113 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,828 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,353 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 708 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,883 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,434 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,583 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,903 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,758 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,877 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,233 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,536 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,642 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,040 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,916 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,499 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,994 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,248 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,357 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 16, 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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