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Simi Valley: Not the town, but one of the Underground Bunker’s most loyal helpers

[Simi Valley, and Simi Valley]

To start out the new year of 2013, we posted one of our favorite stories of all time that morning of January 1: Simi Valley, a woman who had legally changed her name to match that Southern California town, was now not only out of the Church of Scientology, but she had decided also to shake off “independent Scientology” and the ideas of L. Ron Hubbard.

It was a big move for her, and we wanted her to get recognition for it. But what she got little recognition for in the decade since then was how much she helped out here at the Underground Bunker behind the scenes.

One of our most loyal and eager behind-the-scenes researchers, and a good friend, Simi wasn’t shy about telling us about our typos. She was a kick in the pants.

And we are especially sad that we only learned yesterday that she died sometime late last year.

Our last email from Simi is dated August, and there was nothing unusual about it: She wanted us to know about a Clearwater law firm that was shot through with Scientologists. She was an eagle-eyed researcher, and often let us know about what Scientology fronts and operators were up to. She was a bulldog.


We reached out to a family member, asking if we could get more information about what happened with Simi. We only know that she was laid to rest on December 30 in Chicago, where she had lived. The family member, understandably, said they would talk to others in the family and get back to us later. We don’t blame them for being cautious. They may not have known anything about Simi’s association with the Bunker.

We wish we knew more, but we’re only glad that we knew Simi as well as we did. And we figure the best tribute we can pay to her is to reprint that 2013 coming-out statement by her, that we found so powerful…

Simi Valley sent us a remarkable e-mail a couple of weeks ago. She wanted us to know that she’s no longer an “independent Scientologist” — she’s out all the way.

“It was a year ago that Debbie Cook sent out her e-mail and I finally woke up. But now a year later I’ve really woken up all the way,” she said in a phone conversation we had a few days ago.

We thought we’d start off 2013 by writing about Simi’s journey, which reflects a trend we’ve been watching for the last couple of years.

As much as the growth of a breakaway “independent Scientology” movement has been a huge part of the crisis gripping the Church of Scientology, we’ve noticed a tendency for some ex-church members to spend only a short time as “indies” before they ditch Scientology altogether.

“On January 1, 2012 I was off the Miscavige Kool-aid. But now, a year later, I’m off the Hubbard Kool-aid,” Simi told us.

First, some background: In 1978, Simi joined the church in New York, then moved to LA, where she found that her first name had people remarking that it was like the Southern California town, Simi Valley. So she changed her own name legally to match the town. Meanwhile, she was getting serious about her career in the church.

“I did some auditor training and got up to Solo NOTs on the auditing side of the Bridge,” she tells us, adding that she also spent about a year and a half in the Sea Org. But for the last ten years of her career in the church, she was trying to minimize her involvement and “quietly fade away,” she says.

“I was like a lot of people who are mortified at the thought of officially leaving and then being declared,” she says. (Expressing doubts or criticizing the church can get you “declared a suppressive person,” which is Scientology’s version of excommunication.)

Simi took us through her stages of disillusionment with the church. In 2002, she says, she started to have grave doubts about the organization she’d been a part of for more than 20 years. And she knew there was information about Scientology on the Internet that she wanted to read.

“Every time I would try to read online, I would get so physically ill that I couldn’t go through with it…I knew that Tory Christman, who was my friend inside, was now out and very critical of the church. I very much wanted to know what she was saying, but I couldn’t bring myself to look,” she says.

By 2009, she says, the big push for selling “The Basics” had her convinced she needed to leave the church. But still, she was unsure how to do it. (In 2007, church leader David Miscavige republished L. Ron Hubbard’s essential Scientology texts, saying that “transcription errors” had been found and cleared up. All Scientologists were pressured to purchase multiple sets of the books and lectures, at up to $3,000 a set.)


“On New Year’s Day 2012, I read Debbie Cook’s e-mail, which turned out to be my big wake-up call. I immediately got online and read all the shit about the Church of Scientology, and for the first time I was able to do it without feeling ill,” she says.

Debbie Cook is a legendary former executive who had run Scientology’s spiritual mecca in Clearwater, Florida, for 17 years. In 2007 she left the employment of the church and moved to Texas. Then, suddenly, a year ago an e-mail she wrote ripping apart the leadership of David Miscavige was sent out to thousands of church members. In the e-mail, Cook criticized Miscavige’s initiatives using the words of founder L. Ron Hubbard. It was a devastating indictment, written in the arcane language of the church, and it made many Scientologists realize that they were not alone in their doubts.

Simi says one of the first things she realized after reading Cook’s e-mail was that she would need to move away from Los Angeles, where she was around so many other Scientologists she knew. And even a year ago, she says, she knew that not all of the church’s problems were solely the product of Miscavige’s leadership. Hubbard, after all, had been Source for policies that Miscavige was still pushing.

But for now, she was ready to come out as an “independent,” and she wrote up her declaration for Marty Rathbun’s blog, which he published on July 29.

“I am now definitely an SP, and it feels damn good,” she says.

Since Rathbun started his blog in 2009, his site has served as the launching pad for many new “independents” declaring their departure from the official church. In general, they express deep dissatisfaction for the way Miscavige is running things, but make it clear that they still adhere to the ideas of Hubbard. They tend to wax nostalgic for the church of the 1970s, when things, they say, were more fun and less about high pressure fundraising.

“I sort of tentatively allowed myself to be labeled an indie while I continued to read and figure things out,” Simi says. “But I still had nagging doubts.”

She says she posted a lot of comments at Marty’s blog as well as here. “I still preferred to use nicknames instead of posting under my real name,” she says.

By November, she says she was ready to “fully confront” the truth about Hubbard.

“Hubbard was an evil, scheming, drug-addicted, lying con man. He wanted to rule the world, and hoped to also make a pile of money doing so. He cobbled together this ‘religion’ as his vehicle for ultimate world domination,” she says.

If that sounds definitive — she certainly doesn’t sound like any kind of Scientologist now — Simi still talks about how she finds some value in parts of Hubbard’s “admin tech” and his study materials.

She also talks about a “light” and “dark” side to Scientology. And we tell her, as long as she talks like that, she still does sound like something of an indie.

“I don’t care how people label me. In my mind I’m out,” she answers.

There’s no doubt she’s certainly gone through a lot in only a year. And like others who have left recently, she seems anxious to get going on a new life.


We explained to her that we’ve seen the same thing happen to quite a few other people who left the church in recent years. After announcing that they were “independent Scientologists,” within several months they were dropping any connection to auditing or Hubbard altogether.

We wondered if the indie movement was in some ways a sort of halfway house for some former church members, an intermediate step. And once out of the high-pressure environment of the church, where Scientologists are constantly hit up for donations and encouraged to spy on their fellow members (even family), it was then natural that they would gradually give up interest in Scientology altogether. Simi said she agreed that her own experience suggested that was the case.

“I have better things to do now, things that I didn’t give enough attention to in the last couple of decades,” she says.

“I feel like I’m finally off the Kool-aid for real.”


Technology Cocktail

“To apologize to anyone for any fumbling I may have done in a line of research which Man has consistently muffed for the past 50,000 years is unthinkable, since at any given moment we have had more progress than has before been attained. This is not a light statement nor lightly made, for today’s results can vouchsafe for anyone the truth of these words.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1957



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?

[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

— The first Danny Masterson trial and beyond

[18] Trial special with Chris Shelton [19] Trial week one [20] Marc Headley on the spy in the hallway [21] Trial week two [22] Trial week three [23] Trial week four [24] Leah Remini on LAPD Corruption [25] Mike Rinder 2022 Thanksgiving Special [26] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part One [27] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part Two [28] Claire Headley on the trial [29] Tory Christman [30] Bruce Hines on spying [31] Karen de la Carriere [32] Ron Miscavige on Shelly Miscavige [33] Karen de la Carriere on the L’s [34] Mark Bunker on Miscavige hiding [35] Mark Plummer [36] Mark Ebner


Source Code

“I criticize governments. That’s because at the present moment I’m not in any position whatsoever to completely smash them. I make no bones about this, see? This is not covert at all. Governments know what they’re doing, not cooperating with me, if they’re that smart. If they were very, very clever, they never would. And we’ll have to cut that off the tape, you see. But at the present moment it’s not that I’m in a position to, but it just doesn’t fit the cards to make nothing out of all national governments, that’s all. It just isn’t in the cards at the present moment.” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 22, 1962


Avast, Ye Mateys


“Flag is crowded these days. Berthing is at a premium. New faces, new actions. This is the time when it is hard to wear one’s hat because the weaker points on lines have given away. This is the time that reputations are made and future trust inspired in those who wear their hats and do their jobs. In such times one begins to mark out those who can control their immediate environment and make it and those in it go right. This is the way future officers and promotions are scheduled. Reversely this is also the time one notices who couldn’t hold the line or who made a mess of it or who caved in. Those trying to get the job done note these things. The non production, the absent from post, the flaps as well as the order and high production people are noted. It all come straight eventually because those in charge note and support those who make it go right and mark down the others. The go-right guys eventually wind up in charge. Those who dodge their way and dog it eventually vanish off the lines. This is YOUR Sea Org. It is as good as you make it. THE SUPREME TEST OF A THETAN IS TO MAKE THINGS GO RIGHT.” — The Commodore, February 22, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“OT II signifies the first time you see the meter reading on stuff that’s not ‘you.’ It’s eerie and spooky as hell, in a strong shock-and-awe kind of way. Definitely a ‘HOLY SHIT!’ moment in eternity, winding back the dwindling spiral. I mean anyone can sit there and hold the meter cans for a million years and not see those kind of reads that appear when you audit THE EXACT PRECISE CHARGE LINE BY LINE. Is it real? Do we believe it? No one has to ‘believe’ anything. They just have to audit standardly (or it doesn’t work). As for ‘Is it real?’ well, the question is irrelevant. The fact that it works and releases tremendous charge and tremendous ability is what’s important.”


Past is Prologue

1997: Jeff Jacobsen and his family came under additional harassment this week, with a visit from a Scientology private investigator and two pickets. “As I type this, Eugene Ingram, Scientology private investigator, is in South Dakota visiting my father’s business establishments, asking questions about me. It is a written practice of the church to noisily investigate someone that they are upset at. I was warning my neighbors that there might be private investigators hanging around the area again. One neighbor then told me that 2 women were picketing my house a few nights ago about 9:30pm. The neighbors told the women to leave or they’d call the police, and they left. The Scottsdale police told me that there is a law against picketing in a residential area here. Tonight as every Friday night I went to my dj’ing job at the All Singles Dances. I went out to see about 20 or so people walking along the hotel property next to a busy major street (speed limit there about 45 mph). I remember 2 signs; one said ‘Jacobsen sued his family!’ and another said ‘Jacobsen sells XXX rated videos.’ I asked the guy holding the first sign what that meant since I had never sued anyone in my life. He said ‘you’ll have to ask that guy’ pointing up ahead to someone or other. I guess he didn’t even know what his own sign was about! My father has video rental stores in South Dakota, one of which won an award for best store in the state. He does rent x-rated videos, as well as Disney and everything else in between. Do you see what they’re doing? Rather than address what is on that page, they go after my family! Can you think of anything more despicable? I heard that after about 45 minutes of picketing the hotel called the police. The police told the picketers they were interfering with the hotel driveway (they had been marching right through the entryway) and also were distracting traffic and setting up a situation where someone driving by would likely be rear-ended while trying to read the signs. So the picketers left.”


Random Howdy

“Most of the junkies I’ve talked to told me the reason they did dope was because it made them feel ‘normal,’ not for the buzz. It made them feel the way they always imagined life should feel, even before they tried it. Unfortunately it’s an illusion, just like the ‘tech,’ and it ends up costing you everything. Hey, if they made Scientology and dope free just think of all the money and pain saved!”



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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Mistrial declared November 30. Retrial scheduled, jury selection begins March 29. Next pretrial hearing: Feb 16.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Next pretrial hearing Feb 13.
Rizza Islam, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for March 1 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next status conference Feb 13.

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: March 15, 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.
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 celebrates new staff as everything is really going gangbusters
[TWO years ago] When Scientologists talk Scientology, we all benefit from it
[THREE years ago] Scientology tries to keep high-profile Philly attorneys out of Danny Masterson lawsuit
[FOUR years ago] First AME Church & USC both disclaim letter Scientology using against Leah Remini
[FIVE years ago] Insider reports on Scientology’s grand openings in Silicon Valley and Salt Lake City!
[SIX years ago] First look inside Tom Cruise’s Clearwater double penthouse — and Scientology is not happy!
[SEVEN years ago] How the indoctrination of growing up in Scientology has changed over generations
[EIGHT years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology’s latest insider fliers for your dissection and delectation
[NINE years ago] Jon Atack puts it to Scientologists — did L. Ron Hubbard have the qualities of a leader?
[TEN years ago] Blogging Dianetics, Part 8: The Demon Seed
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology and the Occult: Hugh Urban’s New Exploration of L. Ron Hubbard and Aleister Crowley


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 2,948 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,453 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,003 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,993 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,884 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,188 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,059 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,164 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,641 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,953 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,519 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,438 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,606 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,187 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,448 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,485 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,200 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,764 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,079 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,254 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,805 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,936 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,274 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,129 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,248 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,604 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,907 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,013 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,411 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,287 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,870 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,365 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,619 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,728 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 22, 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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