Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


In court today: Scientology responds to Valerie Haney naming Elisabeth Moss as an arbitrator

[Valerie Haney and Elisabeth Moss]

At a court hearing today, we’ll find out how Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gail Killefer and the Church of Scientology react to Valerie Haney nominating actress Elisabeth Moss to be an arbitrator in her lawsuit.

We broke that news Friday evening, but we must apologize for such a brief and hasty dispatch. At the time we were sitting at a bar in the wilds of northern New Jersey after a hilly day on a bicycle and with no more journalistic resources than the smartphone we happened to have with us.

Since then, we’ve learned a little more about what happened that day, and why this morning should feature an interesting showdown in court.

We know this whole “religious arbitration” situation is extremely confusing for many people, and we will try, once again, to explain in basic terms what is going on. In June 2019 Valerie sued the Church of Scientology over the abuses she alleged she had endured. She said she had been held against her will as a Sea Org employee at Scientology’s secretive “Int Base” east of Los Angeles, and that she had escaped from the base by hiding in the trunk of a car. She then went to work for Leah Remini as her assistant for several years, and during that time she alleges that she was harassed, stalked, and libeled by Scientology. (Valerie continues her work in the entertainment industry, but she’s now working for another Hollywood producer.)

Scientology derailed Valerie’s lawsuit when it filed a successful motion arguing that a contract Valerie signed when she formally left the church obliged her to take any grievances to Scientology’s own brand of “religious arbitration” and not to a court of law. (Scientologists are repeatedly asked to sign contracts containing similar arbitration clauses whenever they receive a service in the church.) Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Burdge granted Scientology’s motion, denying Valerie a right to trial. A contract is a contract, he ruled, and Valerie would have to take her case to Scientology’s own brand of internal justice.


That was more than two years ago. In that time, Valerie has been filing motions and petitions trying to get Burdge’s order overturned, to no avail. So now, under a new judge, Judge Gail Killefer, Valerie is under pressure to get the arbitration process going or risk having the lawsuit dismissed outright.

Now, it’s very important to understand that Scientology’s “arbitration” is nothing like the kind of independent arbitration that you might have gone through if you ever had to settle a claim with a doctor or a roofer or an employer. In that sort of arbitration, a retired judge or other person is selected by both sides to be the arbitrator, and that person listens to evidence on both sides and renders a verdict from a neutral position. Handling things this way saves the court system a lot of time and money, and that’s why judges like Judge Burdge are so anxious to divert cases to arbitration in order to lighten their caseload.

Scientology’s arbitration is completely different. First of all, founder L. Ron Hubbard never described rules for arbitration, and Scientology is built on the premise that everything must come from Hubbard, who is known as “Source.” So under Hubbard’s successor, David Miscavige, a jackleg set of procedures has been cobbled together from the rules for Scientology “committees of evidence,” which is something like a court martial. (Hubbard was a Navy man in WW2.) Adapting those “CommEv” rules, Scientology arbitration takes place with a panel of three arbitrators, who must all be members in good standing.

This has been one of the chief objections raised by former Scientologists suing the church. They know that simply by filing a lawsuit they will be declared “Suppressive Persons,” which is Scientology’s way of labeling someone an enemy of the church. There’s no way, these former members say, that a panel of three Scientologists in good standing would ever hear a case fairly that involves an “SP.”

And how to select that panel of three arbitrators? Scientology proposes that each side selects one arbitrator, and then those two arbitrators select a third.

At court on Friday Valerie’s attorneys submitted a letter signed by Valerie formally asking Scientology’s “International Justice Chief” Mike Ellis to begin the arbitration process, and challenging him about these problems with the rules (that Hubbard hadn’t written any, for example), and also that she denied that any of her claims were “ecclesiastical” in nature.

We’re told that Valerie’s attorneys came under some heat, however, that the letter didn’t include a proposal from Valerie about who she was nominating as an arbitrator. So they hastily added Elisabeth Moss to the letter and resubmitted it. (And then had to submit it again after making the very common mistake of spelling Moss’s first name with a “z.”)

Judge Killefer continued the hearing to today, and so we’ll find out what she and Scientology think about that cheeky move by Valerie’s attorneys.

We want to point out some of the things we learned in the only previous example of a lawsuit resulting in Scientology arbitration. In that case, filed by Luis and Rocio Garcia in 2013 and forced to arbitration in 2015, the choosing of arbitrators turned out to be a complete mess.

The Garcias, like Valerie, made some cheeky suggestions about who their choice for arbitrator might be. But Scientology responded that the person named must not only be a member in good standing, but they must also be available and willing. So the church simply said that the people the Garcias had suggested just weren’t available. (And we assume they’ll do the same in the case of Moss.)

In the Garcia case, this back and forth over possible arbitrators dragged on for more than a year. There was the obvious problem, for example, about how “SPs” like the Garcias were even supposed to reach out to current Scientologists in good standing in order to ask them to serve as arbitrators. By Scientology’s own policy, members in good standing are required to reject any communication with SPs, so how were the Garcias supposed to ask someone to be an arbitrator? This was never really cleared up in that case.

Ultimately, the judge in their case, Tampa federal Judge James Whittemore, became so frustrated he decided to step in and select the arbitrators himself.

What then ensued at the actual arbitration proceeding in Los Angeles in 2017 was an absolute farce, Luis said. He and his wife were denied representation by counsel, they were not allowed to bring a recording device, no transcript was kept, and 90 percent of the evidence they brought was not allowed by the IJC. Ultimately, the panel awarded them about $18,000 of the hundreds of thousands they believed they had lost in fraud. (The Garcias refused to take the award.)

Judge Whittemore then dismissed complaints from the Garcias about what had happened and accepted the arbitration result, and after a three-year appeal, the Eleventh Circuit upheld it.


What we learned from that process is that once Judge Whittemore had granted the arbitration motion, Scientology was fully in control. It set the rules, it set the conditions, and Judge Whittemore believed that he couldn’t interfere without trampling on Scientology’s “religious rights.”

Valerie is in a similar situation. She and her attorneys can troll Scientology and it will be entertaining. But we think it’s important to keep in mind that the court system has decided it can’t interfere and Scientology gets to set all the rules and conditions.

It’s not a funny situation at all.


Bonus items from our tipsters

Dublin keeps the pedal to the metal!



Now available: Bonus for our supporters

Episode 2 of the Underground Bunker podcast has been sent out to paid subscribers, and it’s a doozy: Claire Headley talks to us about the way she called out Tom Cruise on Facebook recently, and describes her interactions with him in surprising new detail, as well as revelations about Tom that came directly from David Miscavige! Meanwhile, we’ve made episode 1 available to everyone, it’s Marc Headley on what it must be like for Miscavige living in Clearwater, Florida. It’s Marc at his most irrepressible! Go here to get the episodes!



Source Code

“Let’s take the smaller goal of what to eat. The person will sit down and look at a menu. What he himself wants to eat is very definitely modified by engrams concerning food, what he should eat and so on. You will find people who would become very upset indeed if you mentioned pickles and ice cream to them. ‘You can’t eat pickles and ice cream. It will make you sick.’ Actually pickles and ice cream mix, but there is a social aberration to the effect that they don’t. So he gets into a state of confusion. He has the goal of wanting to eat pickles and ice cream, but the engram says, ‘No, pickles and ice cream will make you sick,’ so he goes down the line and sees sauerbraten. Sauerbraten is one of those foreign foods, according to the engram in the bank, and ‘You shouldn’t eat this fancy foreign food stuff.’ He can get very confused on this whole line. He is trying to make a minor decision and his mind will go around, and finally rather unhappily he will say, ‘Bring me ham and eggs.’ He doesn’t want ham and eggs, but the engrams don’t forbid ham and eggs so he has got a compromise solution.” — L. Ron Hubbard, July 6, 1950


Avast, Ye Mateys

“Hey that Rockefeller sure got plastered in Latin America. His foundation finances these ‘National’ (which are private but only use the name) mental ‘health’ groups. He is some of the money back of attacks on us. Wish I knew what groups roughed up his visits to Latin America. They’re our pals! Our enemies don’t have very good luck lately.” — The Commodore, July 6, 1969


Overheard in the FreeZone

“You are still riding my coattails from last lifetime and that will never change.”


Past is Prologue


1996: Martin Poulter reported that the case of Ron Lawley against Scientology collapsed last week, due to his bankruptcy last year. “More than a decade of litigation ended last week for Ron Lawley of East Grinstead in the UK. Ron, an ex-Sea Org’er, had been fighting for the return of a set of NOTS documents. It was decided in a hearing on Wednesday that, as a bankrupt (he was bankrupted last year by legal costs), he did not have locus standi to continue the case. The courts had ordered Scientology to return a NOTS pack to Ron, but they appealed this order. Scientology now gets to keep the material because Ron cannot fight the appeal. The case has cost Scientology many many times what it cost Ron. Ron has been appearing pro se while Scientology has probably spent a seven-figure sum on its legal costs. Ron has been helped in his case by kind donations from some ‘netizens. The considerable legal knowledge he has built up has been useful to other litigants such as Bonnie Woods.”


Random Howdy

“I went ‘exterior’ after I’d been up for four days on meth. I’m sure that was a genuine paranormal experience.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: 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.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Valerie’s motion for reconsideration denied on March 15. Nominated Elisabeth Moss to be an arbitrator in July 1 letter. Next hearing July 6.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place, next status hearing October 25.
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 cruise ship isn’t going anywhere, but the new hype video is here anyway!
[TWO years ago] Brian Statler’s sister reveals new details in shooting death at Scientology org
[THREE years ago] Scientology’s ‘disconnection’ policy plays out in unbelievable scenes in a Florida hospital
[FOUR years ago] Scientology’s homophobia and its disconnection policy — still producing refugees today
[FIVE years ago] Jon Atack: Scientology has a history of flip-floppers, including the founder’s son
[SIX years ago] What happened when one of our readers got into a Scientology ‘Flag World Tour’ event
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s trophy problem: Did David Miscavige lie, or did the IAS?
[EIGHT years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology finally starts making its members superheroes!
[NINE years ago] Best Account of Life in Scientology? Jon Atack Makes the Case for Counterfeit Dreams
[TEN years ago] SCIENTOLOGY CRUMBLING: An Entire Church Mission Defects as David Miscavige Faces Leadership Crisis
[ELEVEN years ago] Out-of-Work Journalists: Want to do 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 2,717 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,222 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,772 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,762 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,653 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,959 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,828 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,602 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,933 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,406 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,722 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,288 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,207 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,375 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,955 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,217 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,253 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,968 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,493 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 848 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,023 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,574 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,723 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,043 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,898 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,017 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,373 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,676 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,782 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,180 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,056 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,639 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,134 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,388 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,497 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 6, 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email