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Scientology wants you to forget Laura D got her files because 259 ‘ministers’ had access to them

[Laura D and Eric Lieberman]

We want to thank Gerry Armstrong for bringing this to our attention: Scientology is trying to get one over on academia and the legal profession again.

We’re talking about one of Scientology’s most long-serving and high-ranking attorneys, Eric Lieberman, who has been involved in a lot of Scientology litigation over the years.

“Lieberman is in all my cases, visibly or invisibly, and goes back with Scientology to Snow White, and possibly prior. Like me, he bridges the GO-OSA, Hubbard-Miscavige eras,” Gerry says.

The Snow White Program, Scientology’s massive spying operation on US and foreign government agencies, resulted in an FBI raid in 1977 and eleven top Scientology officials pleading guilty to conspiracy in 1979, including Mary Sue Hubbard, the wife of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. So yes, that’s a long span of time.

What Gerry wanted us to know is that Scientology is celebrating Lieberman for being published in a new academic book, Religious Confession and Evidential Privilege in the 21st Century, which came out in December, and was put out by Connor Court Publishing, which is based in Brisbane.

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What is Scientology’s longest-serving attorney doing in a book about religious confession coming out of Australia? Just this: He’s trying to convince other legal scholars that Scientology’s “priest-penitent” privilege is a real thing.

We know this because Scientology is so proud of Lieberman, it published his chapter on one of its propaganda websites, in its entirety. Its title is, “The underlying constitutional basis for the minister/parishioner privilege in the United States and its application to the practices of Scientology.”

In the piece, Lieberman does his best to describe Scientology’s nutty beliefs in a legalistic way, so that they don’t sound so, you know, nutty. But even Lieberman can’t conceal all the crazy. Take this passage, for example.

Indeed, Scientologists hold that every individual is an immortal spiritual being who has lived before and will live many successive future mortal lives. Upon the death of a parishioner, his or her PC Folders are bound and stored for his return in the next lifetime to continue this spiritual journey.

Yes, all of the very private things you have confessed to in auditing sessions, about this lifetime and about what took place on other planets millions of years ago, is stored in your “PC folders,” and will be waiting for you after you drop this body and pick up another one.

OK, but why is Lieberman getting into any of Scientology’s crazy at all? After all, as a tax exempt church, Scientology already gets major protections that have kept its various abuses from being investigated. So what’s Lieberman getting at?

The Scientology central practice of auditing meets all the necessary requirements for full protection in every state and in the federal courts under the constitutional standards set forth above. While the process ultimately employs more than one minister, that characteristic is necessitated by the beliefs and structure of the religion, as in numerous denominations other than Scientology.

OK, so now his project is becoming a little more clear. He’s acknowledging that “confession” in Scientology (what you admit to in auditing), is not quite like, say, Catholic confession, which is one parishioner talking to one priest, who writes nothing down, and who is obliged to keep what you say confidential, even from other priests.

In Scientology, whatever you cough up about your sex life or other private matters gets written down in your folders, and those folders are required to be shared with other people besides your auditor. This is what he means by “employing more than one minister.”

Lieberman raises several examples of other religious organizations where confidential parishioner information is shared by more than one clerical official. And since they qualify for Constitutional protections, then Scientology should too.

The really remarkable thing, however, is that Lieberman never gets around to the reason why he’s writing this article, and why now.

Two words: Laura DeCrescenzo.

One of the worst defeats Scientology ever suffered was its nine-year fight with Laura, who had signed a Sea Org contract as a 12-year-old, and had worked 90 hours a week for little or no pay, until she was 13, when she was moved to the adult schedule of 112 hours a week. When she was 17, she got pregnant, and she claims that she was forced to have an abortion, which is Sea Org policy. She was suing for years of abuse in the Sea Org, including the forced abortion.

One of the many fights she went through during the lawsuit, and one we watched very closely, was her request to get possession of her PC folders and other personal files. She knew that there would likely be evidence of her being forced to get the abortion and other abuses spelled out in them.

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In 2013, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald Sohigian agreed with Laura and her attorney John Blumberg that Laura was entitled to the contents of her files.

But hang on, Scientology said, what about “priest-penitent privilege”? Scientology argued that the concept that prevented a Catholic priest from telling other people what someone had said in a confession should somehow also keep Laura from getting her own files from her confessional sessions in Scientology.

Say what? Sohigian didn’t buy that argument. Partly, because the “confidentiality” that Scientology said was protecting Laura’s files was a farce. Scientology itself had to admit that 259 — yes, let us spell that out, TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY NINE — “ministers” (actually auditors and case supervisors and other officials) had access to Laura’s files.

Confidence game, maybe, but confidentiality? Pshaw.

And while Lieberman emphasizes that Scientology auditors and case supervisors are under strict orders to keep the contents of files confidential, many, many former Scientologists have testified that the files are actually mined for blackmail material, and we’ve seen with our own eyes how Scientology uses that “confidential” information to smear former members on anonymous websites. It’s truly one of Scientology’s most vile practices. Naturally, there’s not a word about this in Lieberman’s article.

He also doesn’t say anything about the great lengths Scientology went to in order to fight Sohigian’s 2013 order in Laura’s case. Scientology appealed the ruling not only to the California State Supreme Court but to the highest tribunal in the land, the US Supreme Court!

(We know, because we were watching it very closely here at the Bunker.) Neither of the supreme courts wanted anything to do with it, of course, and Scientology ultimately had to turn over Laura’s files to her.

One thing we found particularly odious about the whole thing was that Scientology’s attorneys kept repeating, in these appeals, that it should not be forced to turn over files of such “religious” content.

So what was actually in the files? Disgusting, disheartening evidence of how an indentured child had been treated, that’s what. Evidence, for example, that 12-year-old Laura had been punished because, after being moved from New Mexico to Los Angeles to slave away for Scientology seven days a week, she had dared to show emotion because she missed her mother.

Yes, it was religious material all right. It was the essence of the Scientology “religion,” describing physical and emotional extortion. And yes, it contained evidence that Laura had not wanted to get the abortion she was forced into.

In 2018, five years after Scientology’s appeal to the US Supreme Court failed and Laura got her hands on her files, and just days before her trial was finally about to start, Scientology caved and wrote a check to make the case go away. It was an utter defeat for Scientology and its leader David Miscavige.

And crucial to that defeat was the court’s ruling that Scientology’s “priest-penitent” claims are fanciful, given how little confidentiality there really is for its members.

But Lieberman, in his article, doesn’t say a single word about Laura’s lawsuit, or Sohigian’s ruling, or about the Supreme Court petition, or about having to turn over her files.

It’s his job now to snow the rest of the legal and academic community so that the next time, a less vigilant judge might buy the argument that a former Scientologist shouldn’t get access to their files.

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Who, you may be wondering, would be interested in publishing such a snow job? Well, it turns out that one of the book’s two editors, and the one Lieberman says reached out to Scientology to initiate the project, is a Sydney professor by the name of A. Keith Thompson.

Hey, wait a minute, that name rings a bell. Oh, that’s right, remember when Scientology opened its new “Advanced Org” in a Sydney suburb in 2016?

 

 
“It’s been said that ‘by their fruit you shall know them.’ And today through your new spiritual center for Asia Pacific and your continuing commitment to serve others, we can bear witness to your fruit,” Thompson said that day. “Through this facility, I am certain you will help create an interchange and dialogue to foster a strong interfaith community, a community built on respect. And so I wish you well in your noble and sacred endeavors. As you continue and strive to help others realize the greatness that is within them, you will be striving towards eternity and eternal greatness yourselves.”

OK, now everything makes sense.

We’ll say it again: Scientology never gives up, and it craves approval of government, legal, and academic figures. But as long as they try their sneaky methods, we’ll do our best to expose them for what they really are: Propaganda covering up abuse, coercion, and extortion.

 
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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.

 
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Source Code

“The art of Sec Checking is very, very well established. It’s one of the finest arts that we have. But it is to a large degree an art. It is restimulating the material to be picked up. And then picking it up….All right, now we’re going straight into the questions here, and the first question I’m going to ask you is: Do you know any communists personally?” — L. Ron Hubbard, March 27, 1963

 
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Avast, Ye Mateys

“Our ship has become rather shabby. We are improving that fast. We are improving our crew appearance. We are getting a lot done. We have a lot to do. We have gone through a period of floods of new recruits. They aren’t new recruits any longer. Do your own job with initiative, snap and pop and we’ll make it all the way. We right now have lots of good, able people. We have a lot of good, effective programmes. We can make a go of it all right.” — The Commodore, March 27, 1969

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“Apparently some OTs have been following the method: Become the planet, pervade it with one’s beingness and decide all is well. Health authorities in Italy indicate that only two people have died of the real coronavirus.”

 
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Past is Prologue

2001: Keith Henson posted an update on the legal situation of attorney Graham Berry, a long-time opponent of Scientology. “The clams got Graham’s car by assuring a bankruptcy judge that his 14-year-old Jeep, bald tires, marginal brakes, electrical problems, and water leaks would sell for $6700. Since in bankruptcy you can’t have a car worth more than $1900, they will sell it at auction to some public scn and give Graham $1900. There is a deposition of Donald Wager; in it he admits to a string of criminal actions in the Hurtado v. Berry case and related. Wager admits paying a street person in jail for false testimony and being paid back by Moxon. He also talks about taking the street person’s false testimony to the Sheriff in an attempt to get Graham arrested.”

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Random Howdy

“In a country that supposedly has 3 million-plus Scientologists they could only muster a few hundred in Portland. How much more farcical can this crap get before the remaining few wake up and screw?”

 
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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.

 
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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] Why the upcoming ‘prelim’ is a nightmare for Danny Masterson — and for Scientology
[TWO years ago] Scientology’s founder: ‘WE are going UP while the world is coming down!’
[THREE years ago] Bentley-driving, sword-wielding man killed by police officers in Scientology org
[FOUR years ago] Scientology’s secret vaults get their star turn on the new TV network, and it’s nutty!
[FIVE years ago] Reza Aslan’s ‘Believer’ episode about indie Scientology lived down to all expectations
[SIX years ago] Scientology’s European mouthpiece speaks at DC event honoring Marco Rubio
[SEVEN years ago] ‘Going Clear’: Spanky Taylor on John Travolta, Priscilla Presley, and escaping Scientology
[EIGHT years ago] Ryan Hamilton jumps on Narconon’s answer in Nevada drug rehab lawsuit
[NINE years ago] LEAKED AUDIO: David Miscavige Declares Scientology’s Golden Age at LRH Birthday Event
[TEN years ago] Scientology’s Concentration Camp: Where Can Miscavige Put “The Hole” Now?

 
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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 2,616 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,121 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,641 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,661 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,552 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,859 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,727 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,501 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,832 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,305 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,621 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,187 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,106 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,274 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,855 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,116 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,152 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,867 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,392 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 747 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,922 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,473 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,622 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,942 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,797 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,916 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,272 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,575 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,681 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,079 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,955 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,538 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,033 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,287 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,396 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on March 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

 

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