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Scientology is fuming about Mike Rinder, Valeska Paris testimony in trafficking case

[Mike Rinder and Valeska Paris]

Scientology was so incensed by the responses to its attempt to derail a new labor trafficking lawsuit in Tampa, it asked for the chance to make a special reply.

But federal Judge Thomas Barber told them to settle down. He’ll ask for more info if he needs it.

The unusual back and forth happened this week after the plaintiffs suing Scientology — former Sea Org workers Valeska Paris and Gawain and Laura Baxter — had filed responses to Scientology’s motions attempting to end the lawsuit before it really gets going by forcing it into “religious arbitration.”

The lawsuit was first filed on April 28 and alleges that Valeska and the Baxters were forced into the Sea Org as children, suffered neglect and harsh punishments as children and adults, and served as virtual prisoners aboard the ship. Valeska also alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by other Sea Org workers, and then had been punished for speaking up about it.

Scientology responded by filing motions to compel arbitration, a strategy that has largely been a successful one for the church in recent years. The church says that Valeska and the Baxters signed contracts between 2003 and 2015 that obliged them not to sue but to take their grievances to Scientology’s internal form of arbitration. The church’s filings ignored the allegations of neglect and abuse that the lawsuit made, and argued that a contract was a contract and these former Sea Org workers can’t sue. Also, Scientology is pointing out that a 2013 lawsuit filed by two former Scientologists, Luis and Rocio Garcia, was forced into arbitration in the same Tampa courtroom, and it was upheld on appeal by the federal Eleventh Circuit. The same fate should apply to the trafficking lawsuit, Scientology asserts.


In response, the plaintiffs filed responses that not only contained sharp arguments from attorney Neil Glazer, but also declarations by Valeska and the Baxters containing testimony that they signed contracts in the Sea Org under duress.

They also submitted a declaration from former church spokesman Mike Rinder describing the total control that Scientology has over its Sea Org workers. On Friday, we posted links to all four declarations.

Well, it turns out that Scientology is apparently fuming over these statements, claiming that they introduce new evidence into the case that Scientology should get an opportunity to rebut.

Calm down, Judge Barber said in his brief comeback to the church. He’ll ask for more help if he needs it: “Defendants’ motions for leave to file replies are denied. If necessary to resolve the pending motions, the Court will direct the parties to file supplemental memoranda or set a hearing to further address the legal issues and arguments in this case.”

Also, Scientology wanted to respond to a declaration filed by a witness for the plaintiffs, trafficking expert Florence Burke, whose testimony no doubt is giving David Miscavige heartburn.

We’ll pull out a few choice quotes from her declaration and link to the full document. We think you’re going to like what she has to say.

I base this declaration on knowledge of human trafficking I have gathered from interviews and interactions I have had with hundreds of trafficked individuals, as well as on my clinical training, experience, study, and research. I have worked with victims of various forms of abuse since 1975 and have developed an expertise in human trafficking and modern-day slavery since 1997. I have provided training on human trafficking to federal prosecutors and investigators at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina and to adjudicators at the Vermont Service Center where T Visa applications are received and adjudicated. I was an active member of the international training team of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and have served on the State Department’s contractor teams that train criminal justice system prosecutors, judges, attorneys, and NGOs in countries where human trafficking is prevalent…

Congress enacted the Trafficking Victim Protection Act in part “to address the increasingly subtle methods of traffickers” who restrain their victims without resort to physical violence.

Most labor trafficking victims are subjected to psychological abuse. For example, a major study on the health risks and consequences of trafficking in women reported that psychological control tactics include intimidation and threats; lies and deception; emotional manipulation; and unsafe, unpredictable, and uncontrollable events. Such psychological abuse is generally persistent, commonly extreme, and frequently perpetrated in such a way as to destroy a woman’s mental and physical defenses. The negative mental health consequences that result are numerous and often long-term.

Labor traffickers use a variety of methods to obtain and control their victims. Some traffickers use direct threats or violence, but others use more subtle forms of coercion and control.

According to a recent study on labor trafficking, the most common form of victimization that individuals experienced at the hands of their traffickers involved methods that disoriented and deprived them from seeking alternatives to their situation. Such methods include isolation, restricted communications, and monitoring or surveillance. The study also found that another form of victimization was demeaning and demoralizing the worker. This method included verbal abuse, sexual abuse, and humiliation. For many survivors of human trafficking, the verbal abuse and shaming they were forced to endure from the perpetrators were enough to stop them from trying to seek help or escape their situation. These findings are consistent with my experience….

The Defendants in this case demanded absolute, unquestioning devotion, loyalty and submission. The Plaintiffs in this case were systematically indoctrinated, manipulated, pressured and punished repeatedly

Indoctrination is a process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically. These Plaintiffs were thoroughly indoctrinated from a young age. Their sense of self was systematically destroyed over time. Psychological growth of children raised this way is usually stunted. These Plaintiffs were caught up in a life that dictated rules and demanded obedience. Every activity of the Plaintiffs was tightly controlled. As is common with people who experience prolonged trauma in oppressive circumstances, their survival depended on their ability to not think and to not question.

These Plaintiffs were compelled to work and live in these circumstances with no access to social services, legal services, or other resources that might have assisted them in escaping and finding help. The only authority figures in their lives were their traffickers and persons tasked by the traffickers with ensuring the Plaintiffs’ continued compliance with their demands.


The specific theory used by Scientology to justify the application of highly abusive, destructive methods that enable it to manipulate, break down and subsequently gain nearly complete coercive control over its subjects, results in long-term emotional, psychological, and even physical injuries. This theory is also used to justify odious forms of child abuse and the covering up of such abuses, including those inflicted upon the Plaintiffs in this case.

The methods of coercion in this case were both overt and subtle. The ongoing indoctrination and systematic exposure to the principles of Scientology and the rules, hierarchy of command and pressure from members coerced and compelled the ongoing and relentless labor of these Plaintiffs.

These Plaintiffs were held on a ship for years without means of escape. Plaintiff Valeska was later held in Australia. During that time, they were mistreated, punished, and humiliated. They were compelled to work in dangerous places and situations without the proper training, equipment, or protective gear. They were exposed to hazardous, toxic materials that are known to have long lasting effects.

After these Plaintiffs were able to leave, they continued to live within a climate of fear. The Defendants and their teaching doctrines, methods and structures continued to control the Plaintiffs who had already suffered greatly and lost personal agency.

The ongoing fear, shame, mistrust, and lack of knowledge about alternatives rendered these Plaintiffs unable to exercise their rights and take legal action for many years. Not only were the Plaintiffs controlled by Defendants, but by family and other members of the organization. They had witnessed the punishments served to others who had tried to escape or report on harmful activities of Defendants.

The effects of the years spent under the control of the Defendants will most likely result in long term adverse consequences, including psychological consequences, for the Plaintiffs. Exposure to complex and chronic trauma can result in persistent psychological problems.

(Here’s the link to Burke’s entire declaration.)

You can see why Scientology isn’t happy that Burke’s declaration has been entered into the court file, and are asking for a chance to respond.

Judge Barber will let them know if he needs any help on that, thank you very much.


Technology Cocktail

“THERE IS NO DATA OF IMPORTANCE ABOUT THE MIND THAT IS NOT FULLY COVERED IN THE MATERIALS OF DIANETICS AND SCIENTOLOGY. That is a very definite statement isn’t it. Well, 21 years and millions of cases have shown it to be true.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1971



Now available: Bonus for our supporters

Episode 13 of the Underground Bunker podcast has been sent out to paid subscribers: We’ve kept in touch with Jesse Prince since his 2018 memoir came out, and we knew he’d have some surprising things to say about Scientology. Meanwhile, we’ve made episodes 1 through 12 available to everyone, with such guests as Paulette Cooper, Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan, Jefferson Hawkins, Patty Moher, Geoff Levin, Pete Griffiths, Sunny Pereira, Bruce Hines, Jeffrey Augustine, and Claire Headley. Go here to get the episodes!


Now with no restrictions: Our podcast series on the Scientology docuseries that never aired

In five episodes, we recently looked at something we’ve been curious about for several years: The potentially explosive television show, produced by Sirens Media, that would have featured L. Ron Hubbard great-grandson Jamie DeWolf as its presenter, and that would have taken an active look at the families ripped apart by Scientology’s “disconnection” policy. Unfortunately, even though the series was ready to air on the A&E network in 2016, it never has. Our podcast series turned out even better than we were hoping, and we’ve made all five episodes available to everyone.


Derek Lambert and Karen de la Carriere




Source Code

“One day I was doing some processing on a Theta Clear and I had just lit a cigarette. And the Theta Clear was running this and running that, and trying to straighten himself out on this and change postulates on that and so forth, and all of a sudden the body sort of went rigid for an instant. And the Theta Clear must have been up in the corner or something of the sort, and the ashtray was out of my reach on a concrete floor, very slippery floor. And the ashtray was out of my reach and I had my cigarette and I was about to light it and I was looking around for an ashtray. And the ashtray came over, bzzt!, and I dropped a match in it. The thetan was just being polite, that was all, and had never thought twice about it. And I said, ‘Thank you,’ and the person became very confused. Because this person wasn’t up at the level where they were supposed to see or supposed to be or supposed to do things like that yet, you see?” — L. Ron Hubbard, September 22, 1952


Avast, Ye Mateys

“The WHY of departure from the Ideal Scene personally and organizationally came back to recruiting and hats. Everywhere I look hats fell out on all posts. Some of the wows! I am hearing and the cogs and enthusiasm to get this back in promise fast progress for this action. It is interesting that it has taken 13 months of very hard work on my part to run down and isolate this WHY. THE WHY WAS THE ABSENCE OF FULLY CHECKED OUT HATS. Simple now you see it. Nothing is quite as obscure as an omitted datum. Now, with this hat project rolling I can get back to my own hats!” — The Commodore, September 22, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Scientology’s name has been injured badly by the church. We need to reverse that. Also, with all of the corona restrictions all over the world, almost no one is progressing up the bridge. This has harmed the Free Zone like never before, especially with actions done by the church. Scientology WILL grow outside of the church, but it depends on how much volunteer time we are all going to put into it. L. Ron Hubbard managed to hold all those years because of people that have decided to devote a lot of hours a day for his technology and for it to work, so why aren’t we doing the same?”


Past is Prologue

1997: Chris Owen announced additions to his “Scientology’s Secret Service” web site, including documents from 1988 and 1990 showing attempted infiltration of the French government. “The main item is a selection of OSA documents from France, originally reproduced in Serge Faubert’s book ‘Une secte au coeur de la Republique’. They reveal how OSA planted agents in the Elysee palace; the agents appear to have had direct access to President Mitterand himself. Interestingly, a noted a.r.s. poster, Roger Gonnet, also appears in the French documents.”



Random Howdy

“Scilon is a play on ‘Cylons,’ the robotic invaders in Battlestar Galactica. It is particularly appropriate because Hubbard was a science fiction writer, and the top-seekrit ‘OT levels’ are based on the belief that we are infected with ‘body thetans,’ the confused, immortal souls of space aliens who became disoriented 75 million years ago when the evil space warlord Xenu brought them to Earth (or Teegeeack, as it was known then), dropped them into volcanoes and blew them up with nuclear weapons. ‘The Scilons tried to talk me into taking a Free Personality Test.’”


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: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Arraigned on August 29.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff scheduled to be sentenced on Oct 28.
Rizza Islam, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for October 24 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, Scientology moving to compel arbitration. Plaintiffs filed amended complaint on August 2.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Selection of arbitrators underway. Next court hearing: February 2, 2023.
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. Scientology petitioning US Supreme Court over appellate ruling.
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 and anti-vaxx, a marriage made in heaven?
[TWO years ago] VIDEO: See Danny Masterson’s initial court appearance on rape charges
[THREE years ago] Scientology is making plans for a Narconon drug rehab in the land of the rising sun
[FOUR years ago] Get a look inside Nathan Rich’s unique book about his Scientology upbringing
[FIVE years ago] Scientology’s tiger: How L. Ron Hubbard created a language trap
[SIX years ago] ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ goes on sale as an audiobook on September 29
[SEVEN years ago] Visualizing Scientology’s latest ‘Going Clear’ public relations disaster
[EIGHT years ago] New videos leaked from Scientology, including a sobering call for help from Nashville
[NINE years ago] The Scientology Guide to Craigslist
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology Overseas: More Bad News in Australia, Israel, and the UK


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 2,795 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,300 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,850 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,840 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,731 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,036 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,906 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,011 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,484 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,800 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,366 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,285 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,453 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,033 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,295 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,331 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,046 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,611 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 926 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,101 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,652 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,783 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,121 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,976 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,095 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,451 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,754 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,860 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,258 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,134 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,717 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,212 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,466 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,575 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 22, 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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