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Ginger Sugerman: Her way out of Scientology was marred by trauma

We were surprised and saddened to learn yesterday that Ginger Sugerman died in Georgia of a heart attack in early February. She was 62.

This was the first we had heard about it. We have not been in communication with her family, who have planned a memorial for Ginger to take place in Newport Beach, California on March 27.

Ginger was an enthusiastic member of the Underground Bunker community, but her journey out of Scientology was not an easy one. She had grown up in it, and her mother Barbara Ayash was a prominent figure who had spent decades helping to perfect some of Scientology’s outreach programs before she was dumped by the organization. Ginger was distraught about that, and often sent us materials about her mother, who she regarded highly.

Ginger’s most awful experience, of course, was being shot in the face by her husband, Arnie Lerma, on March 16, 2018. The two of them had found each other after leaving Scientology, and they had moved to rural Georgia, where Arnie’s paranoia, she told us, got the better of him.


After an argument, he fired two shots at her with a handgun, with one bullet ripping through her mouth and taking out several teeth. She fled to a neighbor’s house, and then Lerma went into his bathroom and shot himself fatally.

It was a terrible end for a man who at one time had been one of Scientology’s most well known critics, and at the forefront of making public Scientology’s secrets in the 1990s on the early Internet when doing so was a much more dicey proposition.

Ginger’s injuries were extensive, and she went through a series of surgeries over several years. Being alone in rural Georgia didn’t help. She was so distraught, for a time she decided to “strike a blow” against Scientology’s enemies, as church policy demands, in order to convince Scientology to allow her back in and convince her children who had disconnected from her to change their minds.

But she gave up on that after Scientology ignored her attempts, and then asked us to publish an apology to other former Scientologists, which we did last year.

Our last email from Ginger was in September, when she forwarded to us a video featuring a Christian pastor criticizing Scientology.

Our favorite memory of Ginger was when she traveled to HowdyCon in Chicago in June 2018, just a few months after the shooting, to join Underground Bunker regulars for our gathering in the Windy City.

And one memory we know she was partial to, because she sent it to us, was this appearance on the Gong Show, as Ginger Markel, her maiden name, when she was just 17 years old, in 1976 or 1977.



Scientology tries new branding



Yesterday, Mike Rinder revealed that Scientology has a new campaign to promote the personality test: “Find You.”

He found that the Vancouver org was boasting about it, and yesterday we also heard about it from a reader in England who saw the new boxes being put out.

It’s a worldwide initiative, people!


Geoff Levin talks to WKNY



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Source Code

“Some fellow by the name of Snitz, or Smutty, or something out in some state or another has written a book called, ‘What Happened To The Tens of Thousands.’ I’ve never read this book, but I think this is probably a very interesting piece of slander if I know anything else of this young commie. But, I didn’t say he was a commie, he said so. He said he left the party a long time ago, though, last October….What happened to the tens of thousands, he wants to know. What happened to the tens of thousands of people who were in there in Dianetics. Well I can tell you what happened to the tens of thousands of people, is Hubbard didn’t hypnotize them. He told them the truth….Everybody knew everything was being run at sixes and sevens. This wouldn’t be news to anybody. It wouldn’t have anything to do with whether or not there was horrible scandal, or upset, or good jobs of processing or bad jobs of processing. Just nobody started out to make a large cult composed of numerous people. Somebody set out to inform people of everything he knew that was true. And of course it didn’t make a population heavy game. And then a few of us kept on going because we weren’t satisfied that all the answers were in sight. We weren’t satisfied that we knew all the procedures which could be best employed. And we have actually invented a bunch of brand new games on top of games, in some cases. But we’re not aware of these, we’ve just learned how to teach somebody, seven years after Dianetics. What happened to the tens of thousands? They weren’t hypnotized. If those had been tens of thousands of people in psychology they would not now we a hundred million. This is for sure. When you start out to set people free then you have to inform them.” — L. Ron Hubbard, March 20, 1957


Avast, Ye Mateys

“For using incorrect ethics action, for damaging another and for failure to take any action to ensure MO or auditor action to correct, PAUL PRESTON is declared in a Condition of STUPID.” — Capt. Mary Sue Hubbard, March 20, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“I doubt there is any Planetary Engram and now believe the K–T extinction — abbreviated Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction, also called K–Pg extinction or Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction — is factually the basis of his claim of a wall of fire, though I know there to be such a thing that is capable of producing perceived heat that can for-fact reduce a self to a blithering idiot. If we go off-world this gets wild but there is just no chance of inter-stellar travel by physical craft. The mind has no such limitations.”


Past is Prologue


2001: The St. Petersburg Times published an editorial criticizing the Chief of Police Sid Klein for allowing Scientology to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to have off-duty officers patrol Watterson Ave. “Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thomas Penick, who has the unenviable task of refereeing sidewalk skirmishes between the Church of Scientology and anti-Scientology protesters in Clearwater, recently pointed to an arrangement that allows off-duty Clearwater cops to work for Scientology and noted, ‘They are coming very dangerously close to becoming a private security force for the Church of Scientology.’ Penick was right to call attention to the uncomfortably cozy relationship developing between city police and the church, which has its spiritual headquarters in downtown Clearwater. Though Scientology has worked to improve its image and relationship with the city in recent years, the fact is that the church, by virtue of its controversial history in Clearwater and its altercations with the Lisa McPherson Trust, is not like most other Clearwater churches. Also, there is a big difference between providing an off-duty officer to a church to direct traffic after Sunday services and supplying off-duty officers to protect Scientology from its critics every day of the year.”


Random Howdy

“I’m surprised Gary Glitter didn’t become a Scientologist. It would have been the perfect cover for his degraded beingness.”


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. Additional charges also referred to grand jury after January 5 assault while in jail.
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.’ Valerie’s motion for reconsideration denied on March 15.
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] What Scientology doesn’t tell you about its ‘Bridge’ of courses until it’s far too late
[TWO years ago] Brian Statler’s daughter joins lawsuit over his police shooting death at Scientology church
[THREE years ago] An eyewitness report from Scientology’s LRH Birthday Event Saturday in Los Angeles
[FOUR years ago] Ginger Sugerman is facing enormous challenges — and here’s how you can help
[FIVE years ago] Judge: Testimony about Scientology’s abuses so bad, it should get kicked out of the country
[SIX years ago] Got a war wound? Scientology can help you with that, and more in our social media review
[SEVEN years ago] ‘Going Clear’: Jason Beghe, the actor who left Scientology and made a stink about it
[EIGHT years ago] What will you do with your Scientology E-meter tchotchkes?
[NINE years ago] Scientology Ordered to Turn Over Confidential Files in Forced-Abortion Lawsuit
[TEN years ago] Jonny Jacobsen: A Q&A with Europe’s Premier Scientology Blogger


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 2,609 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,114 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,634 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,654 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,545 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,852 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,720 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,494 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,825 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,298 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,614 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,180 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,099 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,267 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,848 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,109 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,145 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,860 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,385 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 740 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,915 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,466 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,615 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,935 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,790 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,909 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,265 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,568 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,674 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,072 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,948 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,531 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,026 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,280 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,389 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 20, 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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