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Jerry Whitfield, longtime Scientology exit counselor, dies at 77

[Hana and Jerry Whitfield]

We spoke to Hana Whitfield last night, who was still in Miami, where her husband Jerry had died Sunday night after a lengthy illness. She was understandably feeling overwhelmed by everything she and Jerry have been going through, and she plans to return to her Coral Gables home for some rest. But we were grateful that she spent some time with us talking about Jerry.

For many years, from the mid 1980s, the two of them were formidable figures in the community that helps people leave Scientology and reacquaint themselves with modern life.

Jerry Whitfield was originally from Clovis, New Mexico, where he was born on January 21, 1945. Hana says he had a younger sister and two older brothers, and that he attended college and got a business degree.

In 1974, Jerry was in El Paso, Texas, and he was looking for answers to some pretty big questions.


“I wanted to know things like: What is the human spirit capable of? Is there such a thing as clairvoyance? Can it be taught? Do some people have that as a special power? Or does nobody have it? Is your soul separate from your body? Can somebody get out of their body?” Jerry told an interviewer several years ago.

And the place he went with those questions, after hearing some things about the place, was a Narconon drug rehab in El Paso, one of the rehabs run by Scientology.

“Of course Narconon jumped on it and said they had all the answers,” Hana says.

What Jerry found instead was intense, grueling work with little sleep as he became “Executive Director Narconon US,” answering to his Guardian’s Office superiors. (In those years, the 1970s, Narconon was under the GO.)

Jerry worked at the Narconon for three years before running into trouble with the GO.

“He got into ‘disrepute’ with the GO. He was not at fault. He was declared suppressive,” Hana tells us. She says that Jerry managed to get back in good standing as he went out to Los Angeles and continued his auditor training in Scientology.

By 1982, he told one interviewer, he was seeing a lot of problems with the organization, he saw many people leaving, and he also couldn’t afford Scientology’s prices anymore. He stopped paying for courses, and hung around for a couple of years more before finally leaving Scientology in 1984.

That was also the time when Hana Eltringham left Scientology. Her involvement had gone back to 1965. A couple of years later she was a captain of one of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s ships. (You may remember Hana’s rich telling of her years under Hubbard in Alex Gibney’s 2015 HBO documentary, Going Clear.)

“We met as former Scientologists,” Hana says. “I was job hunting in Los Angeles, and Jerry was working for a former Scientologist. I happened to get an interview in the same office where he was working. We met every so often and then got together later. We both had questions about Scientology. So did the other former Scientologists. It was common to band together,” she says.

They were married at the end of 1985.

Those questions about Scientology led to an attempt to put together a class-action lawsuit against the church with the help of Michael Flynn, the attorney who had handled cases for Paulette Cooper, Gerry Armstrong, and other former Scientologists.

And it was while planning that lawsuit that years of intense harassment by Scientology began, Hana says.

“The first real evidence was at the end of the first lawsuit meeting at the Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles. We were meeting with Flynn. It was for ex-Scientologists only. Scientology’s attorney Earle Cooley and Marty Rathbun tried to get in, but they couldn’t. After the meeting we were followed by a red car. But the police were happy to protect us. They stopped the red car, which was being driven by a Scientologist. From then on the harassment was fairly steady.”

Jerry soon became the target of a familiar Scientology ploy. Hana says that in 1987 or 1988, Sterling Management, a Scientology front operation, reported finding a written bomb threat.


“The police were called and were told that it looked like Jerry’s handwriting,” Hana says. “We were contacted by the fire chief’s private investigator, who asked us to come to a meeting. We went loaded for bear.”

They showed documents describing a similar operation that had been run against the journalist Paulette Cooper some 15 years earlier, when she was accused of sending a bomb threat to a Scientology church. “We had the Paulette Cooper program. We had videos. We met with them for four hours. At the end of it they were grateful. The private investigator was a handwriting expert, and he said that Jerry was not the culprit. But they were interested in why Scientology was so focused on us.”

In 1989, Hana and Jerry were approached by Priscilla Coates of the Cult Awareness Network. “She took us under her wing. She steered us to books that were helpful. We devoured them. Within a few months, she wanted us to do exit counseling.”

Hana says she was hesitant. “Jerry was the one who said, absolutely, that’s what we’ll do.”

The couple then began meeting with Scientologists for interventions, using their own experiences to say the things that would make a dedicated church member see the contradictions they had been conditioned to ignore.

Scientology made the job difficult as it stepped up the harassment. Hana has described to us a harrowing car chase that took place in England that she recounts vividly in a forthcoming book.

“We were being chased by four or five cars every day. We were able to do the interventions right under their noses,” she says. “There were a number like that. We were chased, we got away, and did the intervention. But other times they were successful and kept the interventions from happening.”

The harassment reached a peak when Scientology leader David Miscavige orchestrated an attempt to get Hana indicted for the death of her father in the 1960s.

“Jerry was very instrumental helping me get through that. We found a good lawyer in Joburg, and got it all taken care of,” she says. She received a letter from South Africa’s national police commissioner that there was no foundation to the claim the Scientology lawyers were pushing.

“The harassment finally stopped after we took care of that in 1994,” she says.

She and Jerry continued to help families with interventions as late as 2012 in Florida.

“We got a lot more people out of Scientology. I would say easily over 300. That’s just interventions, and not all the people we talked to over the phone,” she says.

She and Jerry will be remembered for that work. But for now, she says she’s feeling “broken.”

“It’s so raw, so fresh,” she says. “I’m just at a point of getting through it.”


We told her we completely understood. And we want to remind you that there’s a GoFundMe account that will help her with the many expenses she’s facing.

We have enjoyed warm support from Hana and Jerry for many years, and we hope that he is remembered for spending so many years educating people about Scientology’s abuses. He will be missed.


Technology Cocktail

“We get the condition, where these pictures are concerned, of the Thetan’s machinery taking pictures and then trying to show them to the Thetan while the Thetan is inside the head. This is a very interesting condition because the machinery cannot reach the Thetan, but reaches the head of the body instead, and if this machinery is very powerful, which it usually is, the body becomes very uncomfortable solely by reason of having pictures shoved up against it by machinery which is foreign to it.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1954



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

“If you did it, you can undid it. How do you like that? You can! You can undo it. Anything you’ve done, you can undo one way or the other — somewhere on the track, given enough time. Even without processing, you could undo it. A lot of you are going forward in life right now, just hoping you will get an opportunity to undo, oh, Lord knows what, killing blondes or something. Hoping you get enough opportunity to unkill battleships or something. Of course, some of you are out of luck entirely because maybe your overt acts are against heavy hussars — heavy cavalry, heavy horse cavalry — and you’re trying to undo overt acts against heavy horse cavalry in an age that doesn’t have any. So you have to become an historical writer.” — L. Ron Hubbard, January 3, 1960


Avast, Ye Mateys

“CRUISE: We rapped out the mileage and as I write this we apparently will have our day’s stats at the end. One day and two nights at sea compared to two days and two nights. It was a fairly comfortable run. I like this port we’ll be in as you read this. The officials have always been pleasant and obliging, the people great, and they don’t push people around. Some aboard don’t like it. Smells of fish they say. Well, I prefer the smell of fish and saw dust to the smell of tourists. I’ll never forget the relief and cheer we once felt when driven by the sea and the height of the Smersh campaign this port welcomed us. It always has been friendly and decent. Not being shoved out to anchor ‘to make room for the great Tourist Liner BUNKO and the Tanker SS Stinko.’ We’re off the beaten track here. The Phoenicians, Carthoginians and Portuguese have left their traces. And these people still go on. I’am changing our scheduling after the next port after this. Be nice to these people, they’re your friends. Be nice to this port. I consider it an Affinity haven.” — The Commodore, January 3, 1971



Overheard in the FreeZone

In 2008 at the last broad Freezone Convention held in Europe near Magdeburg, Germany, a young man by the name of Andreas Buttler presented himself as the reincarnation of LRH. It was on the 9th of May that year, that he presented his book SPIRITOLOGIE. Spiritology he defined as the science of the origin, infinite potential and the full rehabilitation of the spiritual being. In his book he announced the great breakthrough that Scientology now is going to be run from the 8th dynamic INFINITY. And all techniques are run from that viewpoint and incidentally doing away with the need for the pre-OT levels altogether. In 2013 however Andreas Buttler had gotten physically ill and as he himself could not have overlooked any adverse ‘causative thoughts’ he concluded that his belief that ‘there was always the thought, the concept or the idea, before anything would manifest’ must have been wrong. He then promptly withdrew the book, the subject and everything connected — including his own past identity — and that was the demise of ‘Spiritologie’ as far as he was concerned.”


Past is Prologue

1996: An article from the Clearwater Times was posted this week, reporting a request for Scientologists to assist in building the Super Power building in downtown Clearwater. “In a survey sent out this week, the church seeks ‘professional Scientologists’ to create sculptures, carry out engineering work, and even supervise aspects of the project, expected to begin in the spring. ‘We are also looking for professionals who know how to put a building together and to manage the personnel who will construct the building,’ the pamphlet says. ‘In fact, we are looking for anybody who has been involved or is involved in the design, planning, and construction of buildings.’ The new facility will be designed for a series of courses dubbed ‘Super
Power’ by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Clearwater, the international spiritual headquarters for the church, would be the only place in the world where the courses would be offered. They are not available now.


Random Howdy

“There seems to be a reluctance even among some exes to understand that all the E-meter is physically capable of doing is measuring galvanic skin response. It is incapable of reading one’s emotional state.”



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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Mistrial declared November 30. Status conference scheduled January 10, retrial scheduled March 27.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Plea deadline scheduled for December 16.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff scheduled to time served with three years supervised release, restitution of $9.7 million.
Rizza Islam, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for March 1 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial hearing December 9.
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 November 17 to argue the arbitration motions, awaiting ruling.
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 February 7.
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] Scientology’s global conquest: Founder L. Ron Hubbard stressed ‘put in ethics’ to foil enemies
[TWO years ago] Scientology social media: Stop being afraid to turn over all your hard earned cash!
[THREE years ago] In the Sea Org, it’s difficult to see Scientology’s incompetence — until you escape
[FOUR years ago] We asked Marc Headley about NXIVM’s Allison Mack using his Scientology lawsuit as a defense
[FIVE years ago] Conan O’Brien to Danny Masterson in ’04, after rape claim was settled: ‘I’ve heard about you’
[SIX years ago] Tonight on ‘Leah Remini’: Aaron Smith-Levin on how families get so screwed up in Scientology
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s state of the union, 2016: Former spokesman Mike Rinder predicts ‘more pain’
[EIGHT years ago] Jon Atack: What it’s like for the Scientologist who gives up the dream of being superhuman
[NINE years ago] Another Scientology video you aren’t supposed to see: ‘The Command of Theta’
[ELEVEN years ago] Is Scientology Imploding? Watching the Panic After a Former Executive Dares to Question Church Management


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 2,898 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,403 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,953 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,943 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,834 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,139 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,009 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,114 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,587 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,903 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,469 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,388 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,556 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,137 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,398 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,434 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,149 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,714 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,029 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,204 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,755 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,886 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,224 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,079 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,198 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,554 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,857 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,963 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,361 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,237 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,820 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,315 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,569 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,678 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 3, 2023 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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