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Attorney to CA Supremes: Here’s how you can make history in Danny Masterson’s rape case

[Philip Cohen and his client, Danny Masterson]

On Friday, Danny Masterson’s attorney Philip Cohen submitted a reply to the District Attorney’s argument that the That ’70s Show actor and Scientology celebrity should not be granted review by the California state supreme court in his rape case. We have that document for you to look at.

Since he was charged by the DA in June 2020 for forcibly raping three women (who were all Scientologists at the time), Masterson has made numerous motions to dismiss the charges in several different courts, and each of them has been dismissed. At this point, a criminal trial has been scheduled to begin August 29, and if he’s convicted of all three rapes, he is facing 45 years to life in prison. Masterson has pleaded not guilty and says he’s innocent of the charges.

Of all Masterson’s motions and filings, the petition for review before the state’s highest court, among all of his attempts to dismiss the charges, is particularly interesting because Masterson’s argument is based in his involvement in Scientology.

A year ago, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo held a four-day preliminary hearing, during which Masterson’s three accusers got to testify about the allegations for the first time. They also testified that what prevented them from coming forward sooner (the incidents occurred between 2001 and 2003) was that they had been indoctrinated by Scientology to believe that it is against the church’s rules to turn in another Scientologist for a crime. Bolstering their testimony was actual written policies from Scientology itself that were first introduced in the courtroom by Masterson’s defense team.

Judge Olmedo referred to those Scientology policies as she ruled that a trial would take place. Since then, both Danny Masterson and the Church of Scientology have been crying foul, saying that a judge should not be “interpreting” Scientology’s policies, and that it’s a violation of the religious rights of Masterson and the church.


Masterson tried to use this argument in something called a “995” motion to dismiss, which was denied by another superior court judge. He then petitioned for review of that decision to California’s 2nd Appellate Division, which denied his petition. And so he then petitioned the state supreme court.

That court asked the DA to answer Masterson’s argument, and we posted the DA’s response a couple of weeks ago. Essentially, the DA said that Judge Olmedo properly allowed a limited look at Scientology’s policies in the preliminary hearing, and only to determine the state of mind of the three victims and why they didn’t come forward sooner. And the DA showed examples of Judge Olmedo admonishing both sides during the hearing in order to keep them from diving too deeply into Scientology beliefs.

Now, we have Masterson’s reply, written by Philip Cohen. Curiously, Cohen seems to concede the DA’s point that the legal doctrine of keeping out of religious doctrinal disputes really doesn’t apply to the criminal courts. But here’s an opportunity for the state supreme court to weigh into that.

The People argue that the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine has no applicability whatsoever in a criminal case. If that argument has even a hint of merit, then the need for review is even more clear than Petitioner initially contended. In that case, this Court should grant review to determine not just how the ecclesiastical exemption doctrine applies in a criminal case, but first (given the People’s argument) if it does at all.

Maybe it’s just us, but when your client is literally fighting for his life, suggesting that the court take a look at new matters because it’s a legal adventure or something seems kind of precious.

But what do we know. We’d like to see what you come up with after reading Cohen’s argument here.

Meanwhile, the court gave itself a little more time to make a decision on this matter, and set its own deadline as June 22 to decide whether or not to grant Masterson review and start an actual appeal of the denial of the 995 motion to dismiss.

And also in the meantime, back in the trial court of Judge Olmedo, Masterson has filed two new motions, one to dismiss the case of victim Jane Doe 1 for prosecutorial delay, and then another motion to sever the cases of Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3 in order to try them separately. We think those motions will be heard before Judge Olmedo at the next hearing, which is scheduled for May 31.

Here’s the new document. Give us your thoughts!


People v. Masterson: Reply … by Tony Ortega



First proof of service comes in for trafficking lawsuit

In other legal news, the first affidavits have come in as proof that some of the defendants in the new labor trafficking case have been served.

Three filings indicate that the Religious Technology Center, the Flag Service Organization, and the Flag Ship Service Organization have been served.

RTC was served on May 6 at 1900 Avenue of the Stars, floor 7, in Los Angeles, and to a receptionist identified as Christian Doe.

FSO was served on May 6 at 911 Chestnut St in Clearwater, Florida, to a corporate paralegal identified as Linda Burr.

FSSO was served on May 7 at 9130 South Dadeland Blvd, Two Datran Center 1700, Miami, to a legal assistant identified as Yleana Aguilar.

That leaves three more defendants: the Church of Scientology International, the IASA, and, of course, David Miscavige.

We’ll be very interested to see if they manage to catch C.O.B.


Neil Gaiman, litigant

Our interest in Neil Gaiman over the years has been based on the fact that the famous fantasy/sci-fi author grew up in Scientology and at a young age was something of a mascot for the organization in England.

His father, David Gaiman, was maybe the UK’s most well known Scientologist of all time, and was an unindicted co-conspirator in the prosecution of Guardian’s Office executives in the Snow White Program of the 1970s.

And David’s history as a Scientology operative is important, because Neil mined his father’s experiences for his highly acclaimed short novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. In 2013, when the book came out, we dived into its elements that had connections in the Gaiman family’s Scientology history. It’s fascinating stuff.


Now, a new investigator has looked into that history, and in a YouTube video is connecting it to some litigation that Neil Gaiman was involved in later on with comic creator Todd McFarlane. We’re not sure about the connection to the lawsuit, but there are some interesting new things about the Gaiman family and Scientology, including a libel lawsuit that David was involved in around the time of the suicide of a lodger that Neil used for his book. Interesting stuff.


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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.


Source Code

“Power of choice, when that is too badly thrown aside, people object to this thing. That is why slavery has gotten a bad name as a practice. In actual fact you look at the economics of it and you find a lot of things about a slave society which are quite interesting. You find a society which is, has no objection to this sort of thing and which can free slaves rather easily and you find a lot of people walking up and saying, ‘I want to be a slave.’ But slavery itself is this thing of a beingness, an enforced beingness over which an individual has no power of choice and therefore it gets a bad name.” — L. Ron Hubbard, May 17, 1962


Avast, Ye Mateys

“The activity called ‘Black Propaganda’ consists of spreading lies by hidden sources. It inevitably results in injustices being done by those who operate without verifying the truth. For instance all the attacks on Scientology were Black Propaganda from hidden Fascist groups. This has caused injustice. Black Propaganda was a Nazi specialty. But injustice recoills on those who deal in it. Thus a hidden lying source can cause authority to act. Thus authority can be undermined by being made to commit injustices….If the world were honest, justice and the need for it would vanish. The road out is the Road to Truth.” — The Commodore, May 17, 1971



Overheard in the FreeZone

“The thirteen senators are alive and well today. Having escaped the effects of the Big Bang — they have resurfaced and disappeared many times throughout this universe’s almost endless history — affecting civilizations to a greater or lesser degree. So me seeing Thoth was correct — one of the senators. The bird-like deity. That is why I am allowed to understand this. Did I receive any help, or it is only my thetan who was the complete cause?”


Past is Prologue

1995: The Phil Donahue show aired a live broadcast on Scientology. Heber Jentzsch ineptly fended off fairly soft questions from Phil. Most posters to a.r.s rated it as unsatisfying due to the condition that Heber placed on the show — that no critics of Scientology be present on stage. The only thing I learned was that Heber has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Utah. The most absurd moments came when a woman claimed the Purif cleaned out her arteriosclerosis after doctors gave her two years to live.”


Random Howdy

“Sherbet, if you saw ‘Heavenly Creatures’ — the best film Peter Jackson ever did — you would understand the similarities between the folie à deux world the girls live in and that of Scientologists. Plus it’s got clay modeling as well as Kate Winslet and ‘Rose’ from ‘Two and a Half Men’.”


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 hits on the perfect theme for its Chicago fundraising: Blues Brothers!
[TWO years ago] Leaked audio of Scientology ship commander giving marching orders during the pandemic
[THREE years ago] Once again, Scientology celebrates a Nation of Islam bigot tonight in Los Angeles
[FOUR years ago] Living with Scientology ‘disconnection’: ‘It’s important to never give up hope’
[FIVE years ago] San Diego on Saturday: Psych-busting and Scientology hip hop!
[SIX years ago] Judge Doyle: I have Scientologists in the family, but I can be impartial in forced-abortion case
[SEVEN years ago] ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ goes on the road — and so does Paulette Cooper!
[EIGHT years ago] L. Ron Hubbard describes infiltrating a veterans’ hospital in a lecture only for Scientologists
[NINE years ago] And Now For Something Completely Different: Scientology Stand Up!


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 2,667 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,172 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,722 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,712 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,603 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,909 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,778 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,552 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,883 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,356 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,672 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,238 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,157 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,325 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,905 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,167 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,203 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,918 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,443 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 798 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,973 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,524 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,673 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,993 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,848 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,967 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,323 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,626 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,732 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,130 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,006 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,589 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,084 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,338 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,447 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 17, 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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