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Paul Haggis arrested in Italy: More proof he’s a villain, or is Scientology behind it?

By now you’ve heard the news that Oscar-winning director and screenwriter — as well as former celebrity Scientologist — Paul Haggis, 69, was arrested yesterday in the southern Italian town of Ostuni on sexual assault charges.

We have reached out to numerous people who know Haggis since news of the arrest broke yesterday afternoon, but we haven’t learned anything more than what is being reported elsewhere. Haggis was in Italy to teach master classes at Allora Fest, a film festival scheduled to take place in that city from June 21 to 26. Italian police are reporting that a non-Italian woman was rescued after she said she had been sexually assaulted over two days in a hotel room by Haggis, who then tried to take her to an airport in Brindisi but then abandoned her there at dawn Sunday when she resisted. Airport workers helped the woman and called police.

Haggis’s attorney, Priya Chaudhry, sent us this statement: “Under Italian Law, I cannot discuss the evidence. That said, I am confident that all allegations will be dismissed against Mr. Haggis. He is totally innocent, and willing to fully cooperate with the authorities so the truth comes out quickly.”

The arrest is especially troubling in light of what Haggis has been going through for several years, a lawsuit filed in 2017 by a former publicist, Haleigh Breest, who alleges that Haggis raped her after the two were at a film premiere in 2013. Haggis maintains that the encounter was consensual, and he not only denied her allegations but managed to file a countersuit before Breest filed hers, claiming she was simply trying to extort him for $9 million. Haggis’s lawsuit was dismissed, and Breest’s has dragged on because the courts have been backlogged by the pandemic.


After Breest filed her lawsuit, three additional (unidentified) women joined her lawsuit as witnesses, saying they had also been mistreated by Haggis — one of them, like Breest, said she was raped by Haggis, in 1996.

Haggis and his attorneys complained that Breest was keeping electronic communications sealed that would exonerate him, and Haggis filed a motion in 2021 to get the trial moved up so he could prove his innocence. But that motion was denied, and there’s still no trial date set.

In 2020, in an interview with Bryan Seymour, Haggis denied that he raped Breest.

Bryan Seymour: Paul, did you rape Haleigh Breest?

Paul Haggis: Of course I didn’t. No.

Seymour: Why would she make that up?

Haggis: It’s a good question. I don’t know. You know, obviously, you get accused of doing something like that and you know you didn’t do it, I know where I was, I know it was a one-night stand. I know what happened….

Seymour Ms. Breest claims you said to her, ‘You’re scared of me, aren’t you?’ As though you had some sort of misogynistic, violent, sexual approach to her. Did you say that?

Haggis: No, of course I didn’t. I have to be a little careful here because there’s a confidentiality order in place which I really wish wasn’t in place. But in order to have the trial proceed two years ago, we had to sign a confidentiality order. So, assuming that what you’ve learned you’ve learned in public, I can respond to it. But…I would so wish that they would just release the text messages, release the mails, release everything because it proves my innocence, absolutely proves my innocence.

Also in that interview, Haggis said that he was being forced to sell his Soho apartment in New York because he could no longer work as a writer or director in Hollywood as a result of the litigation and the allegations of sexual assault. We were unaware that he had been able to get work appearing at an Italian film festival.

We first learned the stunning news that Haggis was ditching Scientology in a statement he made in 2009 at Marty Rathbun’s blog. Haggis was a longtime Scientologist and a major figure in Hollywood. He directed Crash, 2006’s Best Picture, and it won Haggis Oscars for producing and writing. He was also nominated for writing 2005’s Best Picture winner Million-Dollar Baby. And he had written many other films and TV shows over decades. But then, over four days in October 2009, Haggis described how he had become disillusioned with Scientology because of its “Fair Game” and “disconnection” policies, and on the fourth day revealed his name, announcing that he was no longer a member of the organization.

Less than two years later, in February 2011, writer Lawrence Wright turned Haggis’s defection into a major story for the New Yorker, “The Apostate,” which became the basis for his 2013 book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, and then the 2015 Alex Gibney film for HBO, also called Going Clear. (Full disclosure: Your proprietor was also in the film.)

At the end of Wright’s lengthy 2011 New Yorker piece, he asked Haggis what he saw for himself in the future. Haggis said this: “These people have long memories. My bet is that, within two years, you’re going to read something about me in a scandal that looks like it has nothing to do with the church.”

After Haleigh Breest filed her lawsuit in 2017, her attorneys denied that she had anything to do with Scientology or that the church had anything to do with the litigation. We found no evidence that contradicted that claim.


However, in 2020, Leah Remini and Mike Rinder both told journalist Bryan Seymour that they still believed Scientology was behind the lawsuit.

Seymour: You both came out straightaway and said you believed Scientology is behind the allegations against Paul Haggis. Do you still believe that?

Leah Remini: Yep.

Mike Rinder: Absolutely. There is no question in my mind, Bryan.

After yesterday’s arrest, journalist Yashar Ali posted a tweet reminding his readers that Scientology has a history of targeting people for destruction using highly sophisticated means.


For our own part, we hope that Chaudhry turns out to be prescient and the truth about this matter can come out quickly. Paul Haggis, a person we greatly admired for standing up against Scientology’s abuses, has been accused of serious abuse himself by accusers whose allegations deserve to be respected and examined in the full light of investigation.

Delays keeping evidence sealed that might prove who’s telling the truth serve no one. The sooner there is justice for Haggis or his accusers, the better.


Bonus items from our tipsters

Another one comes through for Battle Creek!




Today’s Scientology happy news. Yes, an excerpt from an actual press release put out by the church this week.

Helping to keep Seattle streets litter-free is something the Church of Scientology takes seriously. The Church’s Environmental Task Force and local chapter of The Way to Happiness Foundation have participated in the city’s Adopt-a-Street program for over three decades—longer than any other organization. They join thousands of volunteers who routinely clean up hundreds of miles of city streets as part of this grassroots litter-removal program.

In addition to their volunteer work on World Environment Day, over the past month, Church volunteers participated in the city’s “Spring Clean” efforts and joined Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s “One Seattle Day of Service” event in which nearly 4,000 volunteers engaged in over 125 projects across Seattle.

Forest steward Dave Scattergood, Scientology Environmental Task Force coordinator, led the One Seattle Day of Service improvements in Kinnear Park with a total of 30 volunteers weeding, mulching and removing invasive blackberry vines throughout the morning and into the afternoon. “Invasive species keep the natural forest from replenishing itself,” said Scattergood, “so it’s vital that they are removed to help maintain our green spaces.”


Source Code

“As you look back over the whole track, you’ll find that you’ve been going on a rolly-coaster. You’ve spent some time in a meat body and then the next thing you know, why, there you were, Operating Thetan, see. And then for a while, why, you’re pushing a doll body around or something like that and then boom: why, you’re Operating Thetan. And then you push a meat body around for a while, and then spend a few million or trillion years in a trap or something like that and then you come out the other end of it. And suddenly and mysteriously, why, there you are chucking planets around, or something like this, you see. This is all very difficult for a person to reconcile. And it’s ‘What am I doing? What am I doing?’ Being up, being down, being up, being down. There isn’t one of you who hasn’t been in meat bodies on the whole track many many times. Many times and places, you see. And, who didn’t succeed this action by being an OT, you see. Quite interesting.” — L. Ron Hubbard, June 20, 1963


Avast, Ye Mateys

“POSTULATE CHECKS: Postulate Checks turn out to be just a new way to get service without paying for it and ARC Breaking the field. We are looking for who started this off pol nonsense. The real boom was burst by it — but is coming along fine despite this interruption.” — The Commodore, June 20, 1971



Overheard in the FreeZone

“There is no standard among freezone auditors as to what they charge for services. It is totally up to them. It is a free market. If you don’t like the prices an auditor charges you are free to find another auditor. And it should be noted here that every Independent Auditor or group charges a great deal less than the Church does. No auditor should be faulted for what he decides to charge his clients. As an aside, but I think interestilng, is one time back in the years when $200 a month was a teacher’s salary, L. Ron Hubbard was getting too many people who wanted his personal services. To handle it he raised his prices to $500 an hour for personal auditing! I don’t know what the average school teacher makes today, but consider this was like 2 1/2 times a month’s salary!”


Past is Prologue

2001: The Herald Sun reported that Scientology celebrity John Travolta is touring Australia with an eye to recruiting for Scientology. “John Travolta is out to win recruits to Scientology during his promotional tour of Australia. ‘I’m so proud of what it does and how it helps people, I don’t really mind when Scientology is brought up,’ he said. ‘I feel like it’s a perfect invitation for me to maybe help someone with their life.’ He said he was happy for the media to harp on the controversial religion to which he was one of several celebrity recruits. ‘I think your average fellow would be offended by that, but in my case I’m actually pleased when it comes up because maybe it gives me an opportunity to share it with someone and maybe help them,’ he said.


Random Howdy

“I wish you would comment more often.”



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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next pretrial conference June 30. Trial scheduled for October 11.
‘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: Readiness hearing scheduled for August 22 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for September 19.
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 OT powers have survived the pandemic: Here are the miracles to prove it!
[TWO years ago] Scientologist chiro Jay Spina’s clinic killed a patient say feds asking for 10-year sentence
[FOUR years ago] Scientologists charged with Medi-Cal insurance fraud will stand trial on August 28
[FIVE years ago] John Brousseau: Marty Rathbun is putting words in my mouth about the FBI’s Scientology probe
[SIX years ago] Scientology is holding this Kazakh 20-year-old prisoner, says her media-grabbing mom
[SEVEN years ago] RFK Jr’s anti-vax activism hits lowest spot ever — with Scientology and the Nation of Islam
[EIGHT years ago] Paul Haggis tells us his favorite Scientology stories of 2014
[NINE years ago] Dianetics Noir: Dangerous Women Hiding Their Womb-Secrets
[TEN years ago] Debbie Cook — Exiled by Scientology?
[ELEVEN years ago] Grant Cardone, NatGeo’s ‘Turnaround King’: Doing Scientology’s Dirty Work?


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 2,701 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,206 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,756 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,746 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,637 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,943 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,812 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,586 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,917 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,390 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,706 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,272 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,191 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,359 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,939 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,201 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,237 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,952 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,477 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 832 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,007 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,558 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,707 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,027 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,882 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,001 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,357 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,660 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,766 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,164 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,040 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,623 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,118 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,372 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,481 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 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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