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Deliberations, day two: Can frustrated jurors get it done today?

[Attorney Vicki Podberesky and Danny Masterson]

At the end of the day yesterday, we remained behind long enough to see the jurors leave the courtroom after their first full day deliberating in the Danny Masterson trial in Los Angeles.

The look on their faces? One of frustration.

That isn’t unusual for a jury trying to come together on a unanimous verdict, and we hope they manage to work things out today and get us a decision. We’ll be in the courtroom today at 9 am, and we’ll be sending updates on Twitter and our website, as well as sending out stories here at our Substack.

And now that the case is with the jury and things are a bit looser in the courtroom, guess who showed up yesterday and was gladhanding various Masterson family members?

Well, would you be surprised to hear that it was Scientology attorney Vicki Podberesky?


We’ve been asked throughout the trial if we saw any evidence of Scientology’s presence in the courtroom, and yes, we had.

Podberesky played a really interesting role at the preliminary hearing last year, and we had a feeling that she’d be keeping tabs on things during the trial as well. We saw her young colleague, attorney Dillon Malar, in the audience several times over the last few weeks.

But there was also an intriguing figure, a well dressed and tall attorney who has attended every single day of the trial, even during jury selection when there was only one seat available for the public. He arrived early enough every day so that he got that seat.

Later, as it became clear that he was taking detailed notes on a pad of paper, a couple of journalists asked him who he was. He not only refused to identify himself, when one of our colleagues asked him if he was there representing Scientology, he refused to answer the question.

The man eventually landed a minor role in a Los Angeles Times article by Noah Goldberg, who noted the speculation about him, described his tattoos, and said that it was assumed he was representing the church.

But we had a better form of confirmation when our friend Jeffrey Augustine noticed one day that the man had received a phone call. Jeffrey happened to catch a glimpse of the man’s phone, which he says clearly had the name “Vicki Podberesky” on it.

Well, that left little doubt.

But now that the case is in the can, it’s time for Vicki herself to show up, and we saw her yesterday giving hugs to Masterson family members.

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with Scientologists like the Mastersons playing chummy with an attorney who for many years has represented Scientology in court, and who, we suspect, was providing a live account of the preliminary hearing to David Miscavige.

But it was fun yesterday to see everything so out in the open.


Hearing in trafficking case today in Tampa

Oral arguments will be presented by attorneys for Scientology and for the plaintiffs suing the church today at federal court in Tampa, and we’re looking forward to coverage of it by the Tampa Bay Times.


The lawsuit was filed on April 28 by Valeska Paris and Gawain and Laura Baxter, three former Sea Org residents who live in Australia, who allege that they 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.

The plaintiffs responded that there was no valid arbitration agreement because the documents Scientology has presented are conflicting and were signed under duress; because they would unlawfully require the plaintiffs to give up their rights; because the plaintiffs would be forced into an “ecclesiastical” proceeding in a church they are no longer members of; and because the agreements are unconscionable.

Both sides asked for a hearing to present oral arguments before Judge Thomas Barber rules on Scientology’s motions, and that’s what is happening today. We don’t think the judge will issue a ruling today, although he may ask some questions of both sides which could be revealing.

Keep an eye out for coverage by Tracey McManus at the Tampa Bay Times.


Yesterday’s wrap-up of a whole lot of nothing

Not much happened in court yesterday, but we still managed to spew a lot of hot air about it. We released our end-of-the-day video to everyone here at Substack, but we’re linking to it here in case you haven’t seen it. And here’s also the version at our YouTube channel.



Technology Cocktail


“One old-time auditor has written in to tell me that auditing still remains an art and no matter how hard I try to teach it as a rote, it will still be an art. This has some truth in it. Therefore, if an auditor wants a pc to get well, the auditor had better be a shining example of something that is well. This in itself inspires certainty and confidence.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1953



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 as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.


THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?

— The Underground Bunker Podcast

[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH

— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see

[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf

— SPECIAL: Your Proprietor’s updates on the Danny Masterson trial


[1] Sep 21 [2] Sep 28 [3] Oct 4 [4] Oct 10 [5] Oct 11: Day One [6] Oct 12: Day Two [7] Oct 13: Day Three [8] Oct 17: Day Four [9] Oct 18: Day Five [10] Oct 19: Day Six [11] Special interview with Chris Shelton, Oct 19 [12] Oct 20: Day Seven [13] Oct 21: Day Eight [14] First week in review, with Jeffrey Augustine [15] Oct 24: Day Nine [16] Oct 25: Day Ten [17] Oct 27: Day Eleven [18] Oct 28: Day Twelve [19] Second week in review, with Jeffrey Augustine [20] Halloween special [21] Nov 2: Day Thirteen [22] Nov 3: Day Fourteen [23] Nov 4: Day Fifteen [24] Third week in review [25] Nov 5, Saturday special [26] Nov 6, Sunday special [27] Nov 7, Day Sixteen [28] Lisa Marie Presley breaking news [29] Nov 8, Day Seventeen [30] Nov 9, Day Eighteen [31] Nov 10, Day Nineteen


Source Code

“I couldn’t tell you where I lived in 1102 A.D. My memory on the earlier track wasn’t so bad, but they — in spots — but I realized there was practically nothing on the early, early track at all. Nothing! What was this? There were great big chunks like twenty years missing out of the track, see….During the war I remember vividly thinking about the Phoenician navy and how different our administrative system was than the Phoenician navy’s administrative system and so on. And of course I’d been in my same rank for so long, that I was getting moldy. That was true of anybody who went out to the combat areas. And I mentioned this to somebody. I didn’t tell them, I didn’t tell them I was remembering and so forth. I got dreamily reminiscent about the Phoenician navy and the good old days, you know. They printed me up a certificate on the ship and they printed me up a commission, feeling sorry for me for being in grade for so long, you see. And gave me my original commission back as a lieutenant in the Phoenician navy with the date of rank, 1003 B.C. printed on it. Only it didn’t seem very funny to me. Only they didn’t have lieutenants. Well, we won’t go off into that. There was another way of designating rank and grade. What all this comes down to was how willing I was to create the early track or to create the memory of an early track, which is all memory is. Now you have a reality on it because you know it is-was.” — L. Ron Hubbard, November 17, 1959


Avast, Ye Mateys

“WEBSPREAD: Today Colonel Webspread begins an amazing fantastic and horrifying new adventure. All those who are not Grade – 47 are cautioned not to follow his auditing experiences as they will be found far too restimulative. The management takes no responsibility for heart failures or lost chewing gum while following the Colonel’s Adventures.” — The Commodore, November 17, 1970



Overheard in the FreeZone


“Thetans, until recently have kept only getting worse, losing their far superior innate abilities and instead buying into MEST livelihoods, MEST ‘solutions,’ bigger computers, AI and now 5G. It’s IT vs PSI. Which will win, and what direction are we Independent Scientologists pursuing, I wonder.”


Past is Prologue

1997: Web site The Smoking Gun this week published an affidavit from Parker Stevenson, who is filing for divorce from Scientologist Kirstie Alley. In addition to descriptions of wild and expensive parties and shopping sprees, the document describes Alley’s attempt to resolve the issue through Scientology procedures. “In numerous conversations with me, Kirstie has threatened to ‘bury me’ in legal fees, and she pursues her threat. Since the commencement of this action, Kirstie has made me fight for everything I have achieved to date, including the joint custody of our minor children, and continuance of the action in California, situs of our marital residence, the children’s residence, and the majority of our assets. I, through my California counsel, had diligently sought to resolve this matter without litigation and continue to do so. Kirstie initially wanted us to mediate our property, support and custody issues before a respected member of the Church of Scientology. I attended one five-hour meeting on December 28, 1996, and discovered that neither the mediator, nor Kirstie, had any knowledge of the law regarding the issues. Kirstie didn’t even understand the concept of sharing on an equal basis the property we had accumulated during our marriage. I told Kirstie that I needed the assistance of an attorney to advise me of the applicable law and my rights and obligations and I advised Kirstie to get similar advice.”


Random Howdy

“Scientology came into existence in the 50s, which saw the advent of the beatniks and new ageism followed by the hippies and a rampant world wide interest in the supernatural, occult, and paranormal. It’s fitting to me that Scientology peaked in the 80s with the rise of the yuppie.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Trial began October 11 in Los Angeles.

‘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 March 1 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. Hearing scheduled November 17 to argue the arbitration motions.
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 at least through December 13.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Case settled ahead of scheduled Dec 6 trial.
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.



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] Even apologist professors can’t ignore the recent tidal wave of ex-Scientologist memoirs
[TWO years ago] Valerie Haney to state supremes: Scientology abuses less real than deadlines in a pandemic?
[THREE years ago] Scientology’s sleep cures are enough to keep you up at night
[FOUR years ago] Cyril Vosper: The mind-bending illogic of Scientology’s upper levels
[FIVE years ago] Days before jumping to his death, actor Brad Bufanda credited Scientology with saving his life
[SIX years ago] San Diego’s new Scientology ‘Ideal Org’ looks like it’s ready for its close-up
[SEVEN years ago] Our Scientology tech experts review Lisa McPherson’s grim cycle of guilt and self-blame
[EIGHT years ago] More L. Ron Hubbard history that Scientology has done its best to disappear
[NINE years ago] LIVE OVER CLEARWATER: Watching Scientology from an Eye in the Sky
[TEN years ago] Scientology Accused of Spending Millions to Influence Florida Judges
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology Chillin’ With Hip Hop! A Video That Cannot Be Unseen


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 2,851 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,356 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,906 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,896 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,787 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,092 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,962 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,067 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,540 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,856 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,422 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,341 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,509 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,089 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,351 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,387 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,102 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,667 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 982 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,157 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,708 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,839 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,177 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,032 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,151 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,507 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,810 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,916 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,314 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,190 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,773 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,268 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,522 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,631 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on November 17, 2022 at 09:00

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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