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TESTAMENT: When a celeb faced a nasty divorce, and Scientology kept it all under wraps

[Woman in fur coat, the Night Court version]

In February 1987, I was an auditor in the Flag Service Organization in Clearwater, Florida. This org was known as the highest and best place to partake in Scientology services within the sprawling network of that “Church.” There was no better place, supposedly, to get auditing anywhere in the world.

One day I was told that I should go see the Deputy Senior Case Supervisor for NOTs and Solo NOTs, a lady named Cheryl. She had been in the Sea Organization a long time, having served on the earlier Flag ship, the Apollo.

I sat down on the opposite side of her desk. Cheryl told me that I would be going to New York. Well, that was a bit of a shock. Why New York? She explained to me that a woman there had reached the auditing level of NOTs (New Era Dianetics for Operating Thetans), and I would be going there to audit her.

Normally, such a person would have to travel to Florida to get more auditing. But Cheryl explained to me that it was not possible for this woman to make that trip. Well, why not? Because this woman was in the middle of divorce proceedings, I was told. OK, but why not wait until the proceedings were over? Then she could come to Florida like everyone else who wanted more auditing, I thought.

Well, it turned out that this was not just any woman who had reached NOTs. Although she was considered only a minor celebrity in the church herself, this woman was the sister of a very well-known actress who herself was married to one of the most famous entertainers in the world. And the woman who had reached NOTs was getting divorced from a man who was part of a very famous financial family in New York, whose last name was nearly synonymous with Wall Street.


The marriage had produced a son, and custody of that child was one of the main issues in the divorce. The parents were very much at odds with each other. The big concern was that the woman’s husband was an ex-Scientologist. My recollection is that he had reached the level of OT 3 before souring and leaving. The woman did not want their son being connected to a suppressive person, and her soon-to-be ex did not want the boy being influenced by or getting involved in the craziness of Scientology.

Cheryl’s explanation now made it clear: If the media got hold of this story it could have been a major problem for Scientology.

The Office of Special Affairs had sent two high-ranking persons to New York to deal with this. However, the woman was not cooperating. I’m not sure what they were asking her to do or say in the legal proceedings, but she was being problematic. So much so, that the powers that be in top management brought pressure to bear on the Flag Service Organization to send an auditor to try to calm her down. Such was my task.

In the Sea Org things are supposed to move quickly. They generally do. I had to give my remaining auditing sessions that day, get packed, and fly to New York in the morning. Someone picked me up at the airport in NYC and drove me to the New York Org in Midtown. I was taken to a small office that was being used temporarily by the two OSA guys. I was introduced to them and they briefed me on the situation.

One of them was named David Butterworth, who as I recall was posted in the main national-level OSA unit in LA. The other was Mike Rinder. That was when I first got to know Mike. They didn’t let me in on the OSA-type details, which are always secret and need-to-know. Mainly, I was supposed to give the woman sessions in order to get her into a better frame of mind. This would, of course, entail finding out the things she was hiding (i.e. her “overts” and “withholds”).

In 1987, Midtown Manhattan was quite a bit different than it was in 2001 when I was again sent to New York, that time from the Int Base. To me it was remarkable how much it had changed in the intervening years. In 1987 it was seedier. Shabbier, more-rundown. Walking around Times Square, I was fascinated with the goings-on there, and with what to me were vintage buildings and unusual people. A couple of times I enjoyed watching hustlers playing Three-Card Monte with their marks. That activity was illegal, so lookouts were posted at either end of the block, who would whistle if police were spotted. When that happened the little card table got swiftly and deftly folded up, and everybody walked away as if nothing untoward was going on. One panhandler wore an old picture frame around his neck while holding a sign that read, “I’ve been framed!” The sign of another said, “Tell me off for a dollar.”

By 2001, it was much more upscale and frequented by many more people. There were way fewer homeless people and drunks in the mix.

Anyway, after my briefing from the OSA guys, I checked into a hotel, a couple of blocks east of Times Square, where I shared a room with David Butterworth. Mike had to travel somewhere else and left either that day or the next. The following day I began giving the woman sessions. These had to be scheduled between handlings by OSA (there were also local OSA folks involved) and meetings with attorneys or something. The sessions took place in the woman’s apartment, which was a large one by NYC standards, on the Upper East Side, one of the ritzier areas of Manhattan. I’m not sure if it was owned or rented, but I imagine the cost was sizable either way.

The woman was outgoing and friendly. She actually brought up her famous brother-in-law, the renowned entertainer, in our conversations. In my comings and goings to and from her apartment, I crossed paths with the boy who was being fought over by his parents. He was maybe 11 or 12 years old at the time. He seemed precocious. He had a vocabulary and way of speaking beyond his years. He seemed to me to be a bit of a caricature, like the Jerry O’Connell character in the movie Stand by Me, though not in a bad way. I wonder whatever happened to him.

The sessions were being C/Sed by Cheryl back at Flag. That means she reviewed the report for the sessions for a given day, and then directed what to do in the next day’s sessions. If memory serves, I mailed the session reports to her each evening, using a double-envelope system for confidential information. That system was also used for people auditing Solo NOTs at home. All of the materials of the OT levels, including NOTs and Solo NOTs, were considered to be super secret. One would get in big trouble for violating the strict rules for keeping unauthorized people from seeing that information. When transporting session reports or confidential technical bulletins, they had to be carried in a locked briefcase, often strapped to one’s wrist.

Clearly, there was not enough time to mail something from New York to Clearwater and have a reply received back in twelve hours. So I believe that I was allowed to continue with the auditing instructions I had already received if the sessions were going smoothly. It is possible that I got a “telex” from Cheryl saying something like, “Continue last C/S.” What are called “telexes” are not really sent by those old telex machines. They used to be in the earlier years of Scientology, but as technology developed they are more like emails. L. Ron Hubbard wrote various policies on the uses of “telexes” and so that term is still used.

For a period of four or five days I gave the woman a few sessions per day. There was nothing remarkable about this. We ended up doing a particular auditing action that had to be finished before I left. There are some types of actions that should not be left incomplete, and in general one tries to not leave the person being audited in the middle of something.

I was then told that I should go back to Flag. I guess things were OK in the eyes of the Office of Special Affairs. I don’t know the details of what happened. Somehow the differences between the woman and her ex-husband got ironed out. There may have been court hearings but I’m pretty sure there was no trial. It may be that there were only meetings with lawyers. But somehow, evidently, the public relations threat to the “church” was deemed to be no longer serious. I flew back to Florida and never heard another thing about it. That was a good thing, as it meant that no one considered that I had messed up.

So, what is the point to this little experience of mine? For me, it stands out as one of the odd and interesting things I lived through in my life in that cult. But I think it also serves to illustrate just how weird Scientology is. What kind of church has anything like the Office of Special Affairs? I imagine other churches have people who deal with legal matters and PR. But certainly not in the extreme ways of Scientology. Plus, very few religious organizations engage in espionage and intelligence. I’m sure that information was gathered on the husband, even if it was only overt data collection. For an organization like Scientology, it is always good to have potential leverage.


I doubt that there are many churches that have people at their disposal who can be flown around the country to deal with perceived emergencies at the drop of a hat. The individuals involved have no choice in the matter. You get ordered to go and you go. There is no debate. And how much money got spent to “handle” (one of Mr. Hubbard’s favorite words) the woman’s marriage difficulties? There were round-trip, cross-country flights for at least three people, booked within a day or so of departure, making it even more expensive. Add in hotel and meal costs for them. Plus, how about attorney fees? Probably the woman bore the expense for her own lawyer, but I bet Scientology was paying for legal consultants, at least.

Scientology, in contrast to other religions, had concerns unique to them. Should the divorce go to litigation, in no way could any of the confidential materials (like, for example, the Xenu story) be allowed to be revealed. No other church that I know of, certainly not mainstream ones, go to such lengths to prevent key parts of their scripture from being known. And there is always the concern that psychiatrists or psychologists might get involved, heaven forbid, for example in testimony about the well-being of the kid. Also, there must be no appearance that Scientology was acting to influence the outcome of the proceedings, as that would put them in a bad light.

Likely, the woman had to make concessions, giving up things she herself wished in the divorce settlement, because the reputation of Scientology was more important. That would trump everything. How could she be coerced to act against her will? Scientology has many mechanisms to influence its members, such as threats of “ethics” and “justice” actions, intimations of the possibility of being declared a suppressive person, being told they are betraying mankind’s only hope, or that they could be barred from receiving auditing (as punishment from a justice action), or that they are letting the team down, or many other ways of guilt shaming.

Yes, Scientology is a “church” like no other. I spent 30 years experiencing its nuttiness, its evil, its draconian measures, its vindictiveness, its greed, its malignant collective narcissism, its destructiveness, its thought-stopping cliches, its false ethics, its unworkable “technology.” As a result, I found myself in many, many bizarre situations. I can only hope that by relating some of these experiences, some people might gain more understanding about such cults.

— Bruce Hines

An afterword by Mike Rinder:

Yes, this one of many things that I just couldn’t fit in the book. I don’t recall a lot of details. The woman was not being cooperative on how the case should be handled, which we of course were insisting be the best outcome for Scientology, her interests were secondary.

The only detail I recall was that she lived in an expensive apartment on the Upper East Side. The courthouse was all the way downtown — and she wanted to go by limo. I told her she could not show up in limo and had to be more humble. I told her we were going to take the subway to get to the courthouse. She was very resistive to the idea. I forced the issue. I showed up at her apartment to go on the subway with her and she was wearing a full length mink coat! I was not going to fight about whether her outfit was appropriate when I had won the battle of the subway… so we rode the subway with people staring and whispering.


Technology Cocktail

“Evidently we have been under a misapprehension with regard to the character of past and future. The fact of the case is that mental image “pictures” are, in effect, only de-solidified present times. By a sequence of de-solidifying present time, one evidently achieves time. This is a crude and not entirely exact explanation of the matter, but serves us in our processing. It then behooves the individual who wishes to be clear to achieve the ability of creating a present time out of any segment of the past track.” — 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

“The gross divisional statistic of HCO is letters out and letters in. Why? Because the Existence of an org is real to the public mainly by writing in and getting answered. The volume of letters out and letters in is wholly in the ability of HCO to control. After all, it is the HUBBARD COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE. When letters don’t go out in volume, the public and field don’t know the org is there. When letters come in and aren’t answered then the public jolly well knows the org isn’t there and gets ARC Broke about it as well! You can advertise. You must send out mags and these also say the org is there. But that personal communication to Joe, Joe’s reply and answering Joe is vital vital vital for Joe now knows you’re there.” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 24, 1966


Avast, Ye Mateys

“ANCHOR: We will be at anchor until we leave Thursday evening. We will cut short our stay in the next port, arriving there the 26th and departing the 1st of March, giving us only 4 days there. This lets us take part in some celebrations in the port after next. Webspread will be very pleased — if he ever comes back.” — The Commodore, February 24, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“I have to say at this point I am wondering what a clean 10-year run of the Bridge as LRH intended and particularly the OT Levels might do for this planet and Scientology’s reputation. Imagine no quickie grades, allowing the PC to have his wins, correctly calling F/N’s, Ethics used to help rather than control or punish, attention to people rather than stats, OT levels where you don’t return home broke or ill, willing to take calls in the evening because you know it’s your Reg and friend down at the Org who is looking out for you and you know it. In the background of my mind the song ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon is playing. Imagine theta too.”


Past is Prologue

1999: The Independent reported this week that a Dublin woman has accused Scientology of attempting to brainwash her. “Judgment was reserved yesterday in High Court proceedings brought by a 33-year-old businesswoman who claims she was subject of mind control techniques by the Church of Scientology. Mary Johnston operates a sport equipment shop at Westwood, Foxrock, Dublin. She brought an application seeking documents against the organisation, which she described as a pseudo religious cult. Ms Johnston claimed the documents were necessary in her action for damages against the church and three of its members – John Keane, Tom Cunningham and Gerard Ryan. She alleged that while undergoing ‘treatment’ offered by the church she suffered increasingly with a dissociative stress reaction, became intolerant and rejected family and friends. Ms Johnston claimed she suffered a distinct personality change, would often adopt a fixed stare and simulated smile while switching off her feelings. She also said she became increasingly confused and her health suffered.”



Random Howdy

“I seem to recall that a fear of heights is an engram caused by the thetan-occupied clam remembering being dropped by a seagull.”


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] What the Dutch Coast Guard really thinks about Scientology and its ship the Freewinds
[TWO years ago] MASTERSON ACCUSERS PETITION APPELLATE COURT: Seeking to overturn ‘arbitration’ ruling
[THREE years ago] DRONE FLYOVER: Saturday’s Scientology ‘Ideal Org’ opening in Ventura, California
[FOUR years ago] In Scientology, every dollar you own is under constant attack
[FIVE years ago] Scientology fires back at the Garcias, but reveals absolutely bonkers ‘arbitration’ instructions
[SIX years ago] Whale watching, 2017 edition: Who’s keeping Scientology from sinking?
[SEVEN years ago] Monique Rathbun is on the clock at the Texas Supreme Court, and more in our legal roundup
[EIGHT years ago] New government release contains a surprise: L. Ron Hubbard flunked out of high school, too!
[NINE years ago] Monique Rathbun files motion for contempt against Scientology defendants
[TEN years ago] Marisol Nichols prepares for her greatest role: Scientology space cadet!
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology on the High Seas: Hubbard Welcomes the New Meat!


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 2,950 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,455 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,005 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,995 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,886 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,190 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,061 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,166 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,643 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,955 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,521 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,440 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,608 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,189 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,450 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,487 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,202 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,766 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,081 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,256 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,807 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,938 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,276 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,131 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,250 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,606 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,909 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,015 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,413 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,289 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,872 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,367 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,621 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,730 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 24, 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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