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Trafficking lawsuit: In Scientology, the tables turn quickly on abusers and the abused

[The new lawsuit focuses on hellish tales from Scientology’s cruise ship by Valeska Paris and others]

One of the really remarkable things about the new labor trafficking lawsuit filed against the Church of Scientology is that its 88-page complaint names so many names.

The lawsuit was filed on April 28 in federal court in Tampa, but all three plaintiffs — Gawain and Laura Baxter, and Valeska Paris — are Australian former members of Scientology’s Sea Org.

In the complaint, they allege that since they were children they were forced to work and in extreme conditions, with harrowing punishments. Valeska also alleges vile sexual mistreatment by other Sea Org workers.

And in page after page, specific Scientology executives are named as perpetrators of their abuse, from Scientology organizations such as the Commodore’s Messenger Organization, the Freewinds cruise ship, the International Association of Scientologists Administration (IASA) and others.

The lawsuit names one person as a defendant in the suit — Scientology leader David Miscavige — as well as five Scientology organizations: Church of Scientology International, the Religious Technology Center, IASA, the Flag Service Organization (which runs the Flag Land Base), and the Flag Ship Service Ship Organization (which runs the Freewinds cruise ship).


About 50 individuals are also named in the complaint who aren’t defendants in the lawsuit.

We thought we’d highlight three of them, because they help illustrate a point: In Scientology, the people dealing out abuse often later find themselves on the receiving end of it.

At one point, for example, the complaint describes how Valeska knew she’d be punished for reporting abuse, even though she was being sexually assaulted by a co-worker. When, after three months of the abuse she finally did say something, her worries about being punished came true.

Julie Ginge-Nielson, Valeska’s CMO supervisor, along with her husband Mark Ginge-Nielson, chastised and punished Valeska for causing the abuse. Valeska was even required to continue doing [her abuser’s] laundry. As a result, the abuse continued.

If you are a longtime Scientology watcher, you know how consistent this is in the history of the organization, that women in particular are punished for coming forward with allegations of abuse.

But one name in that passage really stunned us to see in the court document.

Mark Ginge-Nielson.


[Mark Ginge-Nielson]

Longtime Scientology watchers no doubt are doing a double take as images of a bathroom floor being licked clean may be playing in your mind right now.

We’re talking about the explosive testimony of Debbie Cook, which took place in a San Antonio courtroom in 2012. She was being sued by Scientology for daring to criticize Miscavige and his leadership of the church in an email that was sent to a few thousand people as midnight struck on January 1 of that year.

Scientology sued Cook because, they said, even daring to send out an email criticizing Miscavige was a violation of contracts she’d signed in the Sea Org, and they said her penalties might total in the millions of dollars.

Cook’s attorney Ray Jeffrey struck back by having Debbie get on the witness stand as soon as he could, and had her describe the horrific abuse she’d suffered in the Sea Org, including her time as a prisoner in The Hole at Int Base, near Hemet, California.

The Hole was an office trailer that had been turned into a prison for Scientology executives by Miscavige, she testified. And when one Sea Org official, Mark Ginge-Nielson, dared, at a meeting in Los Angeles around 2007, to raise some concerns about how these prisoners were being treated, his punishment became perhaps the most vivid moment of Cook’s testimony.


At the Author Services Inc building on Hollywood Boulevard, where the meeting had taken place, Ginge-Nielson was ordered to go into a bathroom and lick the floor clean for about 30 minutes, Cook testified.

Ever since, it’s become one of the most legendary images in Sea Org history, and a symbol of David Miscavige’s ruthless paranoia.

Ginge-Nielson is no longer in the Sea Org and is working for a staffing firm in Copenhagen. We emailed him, wondering if he’d seen the new lawsuit and if he knew he was named in it.

He’s not being sued, he’s listed as someone who helped punish Valeska Paris for daring to come forward about being sexually assaulted.

Years later, in 2012, he would forever be known as the alleged floor-licker who had been abused by Scientology leader David Miscavige.

He hasn’t responded.

The second example we wanted to bring up about someone who is named as an abuser in the lawsuit who later became known for their own victimization is Janet (Light) McLaughlin. She’s mentioned numerous times in the lawsuit as a harsh taskmaster. Here’s one line from the complaint, for example…

Work assignments on the Freewinds were often dangerous. In Gawain’s first year on the ship, Janet McLaughlin, the senior most IASA officer on the ship, ordered him to squeeze into fuel tanks and clean them by lantern in the dark, without a respirator or other protection from fumes. The tanks were a meter high by a meter wide and a meter deep, and Gawain had to crawl from tank to tank.


[Janet Light McLaughlin]

We’ve heard from numerous other former Freewinds employees who describe similarly hellish conditions. But eventually, McLaughlin herself had the tables turned, as she and her husband were allegedly roughed up and sent to separate holding facilities.

In 2012, when we published a list of Sea Org executives who had served at least some time in The Hole, McLaughlin made the list. By then, however she had been able to get herself out of the Sea Org and Scientology altogether. Our attempts in the past to speak with her have been unsuccessful.

And the third person who naturally grabbed our attention was from this description of Valeska’s attempts to appeal to higher ups for help getting off the ship.

Valeska wrote a letter to Shelly Miscavige, the wife of David Miscavige, describing the abuses and stating that she wanted to leave the Freewinds, but Sharron Weber found the letter, tore it up and sent Valeska to the engine room as punishment until she accepted her fate. Six months later, Valeska wrote a second letter to Shelly Miscavige requesting permission to temporarily leave the ship, but Shelly Miscavige reported the letter to security and instructed them to tell her that her request had been denied.



[Shelly Miscavige in the 1990s: One of the photos we brought back after visiting her tailors, Claudio and Renata Lugli, in Italy in 2013]

This was before, of course, the summer of 2005, when Shelly herself vanished from Int Base after angering her husband. Since then, we believe that she’s been kept out of sight at a super secretive compound in the mountains above Los Angeles, and each year, at Christmas, we review what we know about her fate.

There’s no doubt that Shelly Miscavige was a top-ranking, hard-as-nails Sea Org executive in her own right, and we have heard other stories about her loyalty to her husband and the cause.

She’s not a defendant in the lawsuit, just another person named as contributing to the horrific treatment of the plaintiffs.

Does that mean she might be called to testify?

We have doubts that she’d be let out of her mountain fastness for that opportunity.


At the Daily Beast: Leonardo DiCaprio and Scientology

We don’t want to give away too much about our story at the Daily Beast today. We just hope you’ll go over there and give it a look.

It’s a piece we’ve been working on for a while, and we think you’ll enjoy the tale that unfolds.

It’s our first home-page-topping story there since our piece on Kuba Ka in October.




California Supreme Court extends its own deadline in Masterson case

We received notification yesterday from California’s State Supreme Court that it will be giving itself some additional time, until June 22, to make a decision about Danny Masterson’s petition for review of a denied motion to dismiss in his criminal rape prosecution.

The court previously asked Masterson’s prosecutors to submit an answer to Danny’s petition, which the DA’s office turned in last week. Masterson’s reply is due this week. But now the court has announced that it will be giving itself some more time to make up its mind in the matter.

Is that significant? We don’t know if it’s a logistical issue or something more substantive. But as far as we know, Danny’s reply to the DA’s answer is still due this week.


Duke of Chug!




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Source Code

“All I’m trying to do here is show you that the most hidden factors of the mind were, of course, the things that aberrated the mind, because nobody has ever freed a mind before. So therefore, they must have been the most concealed or they would have gotten as-ised. Just as simple as that, see? Almost anybody could have come along and as-ised them if they hadn’t been very hidden. ” — L. Ron Hubbard, May 12, 1961


Avast, Ye Mateys

“RHODESIA: The anti-Scn bill in Rhodesia hit a heavy snag due to our attorney, the legal office of the government chopping down on their parliament saying its unconstitutional. The name of a notorious anti-govt psychiatrist appeared and got the govt legal dept antagonistic. Also, I had excellent PR in Rhodesia when I was there and they’re still trying to explain their actions. The Guardian Office Africa and all concerned did a fine job there. It’s all held off indefinitely.” — The Commodore, May 12, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“When media wanted me to adjust to the rules of a radical feminist society, with alcoholism and political correctness and gay propaganda — a free field for psychiatry and antidepressants — I chose to stay home and become a Scientologist.”



Past is Prologue

1997: Scientology’s Freedom magazine is calling for information on any misdeeds by executives of the St. Petersburg Times. The information will likely be used in future “dead agent” attacks against the paper. “Under Investigation: Readers with information about crimes or misconduct by executives at the ‘St. Petersburg Times’ should send full details in writing to ‘Freedom’, 503 Cleveland Street, Clearwater, FL 34616. This includes information regarding racial and gender bias or discrimination, sexual harassment, employee abuse or any violation of exisisting laws.”


Random Howdy

“I wouldn’t sweat it. I’ve been doing this since 2008 and I’ve given vaLLarrr and other Scientologists more than enough clues as to who my sister is that if they wanted to dox me and come after me they could have long ago. All they got left is squirrel cams, fat sleazy P.I’s and slime sites that no one reads except other Scientologists.”


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.
Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference May 20 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for June 2.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Found guilty of criminal and civil contempt.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Complaint filed April 28 in Tampa federal court.
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. Next hearing scheduled for June 29.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for December 6.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: New trial ordered after appeals court overturned prior 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’s Chicago Ideal Org says it’s next to open. Is Second City ready for its closeup?
[TWO years ago] Scientology’s $20 million hole in the ground: The secret vault to nowhere
[THREE years ago] Scientology finds the dream solution to its recruiting woes — the QR Code!
[FOUR years ago] Scientology’s toxic policy of ‘disconnection’ — we check in with the people who endure it
[FIVE years ago] One of Scientology’s most secretive temples is offering a rare look inside on Monday
[SIX years ago] Monique Rathbun formally ends her lawsuit in Texas; Ken Dandar wins again in Florida
[SEVEN years ago] AUDIO LEAK: Scientology leader David Miscavige ‘makes L. Ron Hubbard out to be an imbecile’
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology is determined to conquer this Internet thing
[NINE years ago] Scientology Sunday Funnies: Portland Is Now Cleared, On to the Rest of Earth! UPDATE: PHOTOSHOPPING?
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology Stalking Richard Leiby, Part 2: Frenemies Among Us


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 2,662 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,167 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,717 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,707 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,598 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,904 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,773 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,547 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,878 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,351 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,667 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,233 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,152 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,320 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,900 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,162 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,198 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,913 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,438 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 793 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,968 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,519 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,668 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,988 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,843 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,962 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,318 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,621 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,727 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,125 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,001 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,584 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,079 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,333 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,442 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 12, 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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