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PODCAST: John Sweeney stops by to chat about Scientology’s ‘dark nonsense’

[NOTE: Make sure you saw last night’s depressing breaking news. Another lawsuit forced into ‘Scientology arbitration.’]

When we took a photo of John Sweeney pouring a cup of tea on a visit to London, we didn’t know that in a few years he’d not only be a best-selling author of multiple books, but that he’d become known for reporting from the Battle of Kyiv in an orange wool cap.

We’re fortunate that we caught the very busy former BBC journalist, and for a fun trip down memory lane about reporting on Scientology. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Listen to the podcast here.



Technology Cocktail

“The body is a solid appendage which makes a person recognizable. The body is a game of considerable magnitude, and very popular at this time. It is quite old, but still very popular. The body can be monitored and handled by mental image pictures, and it can also be monitored and handled by thetans, fortunately.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1957


Jon Atack and Chris Shelton




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 [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter


Source Code

“OK, and this is the 1st of April 1954, little more on simple procedures, basics. The problem which the auditor faces is a very simple problem. That’s what makes it so difficult. He has a human being who is out of present time. Ordinarily this is the target of the auditor, although you can use auditing on cats, dogs and horses, and so forth. As a matter of fact, I was auditing a horse the other day. Got him into present time, too. It’s very easy to audit a horse. All you make him do is reach for you and you retreat until he feels good and dangerous. And his spirits will come up and he’ll be in present time enough to be rid.” — L. Ron Hubbard, April 1, 1954



Avast, Ye Mateys

“OVERTS: In the interests of more truth on board, anyone feeling nattery should write up their overts and witholds and post them on the crew’s notice board with a copy to me. Hiding the real reasons behind natter roughs it up for the rest of us. We are after all a true group. Truth is the basis of group ARC.” — The Commodore, April 1, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“I don’t know if the movement started by Bill Robertson could be considered to be a reform. The original tech and admin of LRH is preserved, but some modificaton was done to the OT levels and they were expanded beyond OT VIII. This is the most high-toned ‘reform.’ The Bill Robertson bridge is an example of a positive alternative. In fact Capt. Bill Robertson states in a video that the Ron’s Org is an alternative path for when the government SPs block Scientology for the people and reserve it for the rich few. With the IRS inside OSA, and Chairman of the Board David Miscavige in charge of the GAT inquisition, it is more than clear that the OT levels have been blocked. Then there is the most extreme reform ever. Which in a sense is a kind of bypass. Sky Bunny has posted that he comes from the future, where Scientology tech has been developed to levels where it is now possible to create new games. In these new games the flubs of a reactive mind have been avoided and a new game is being created now. So, in this case, it doesn’t matter what happens to this universe and game. A new one using Scientology tech is being started. This one being notified to take advantage of that reform. And this with the ‘authority’ of Maitreya.”


Past is Prologue

2000: Graham Berry is defending a lawsuit against Michael Hurtado, in a case involving allegations of illegal actions by Scientology. Graham filed a motion to protect many of the documents showing the extent of the illegal actions this week. “This motion is made on the ground that a dispute has arisen as to the identity of the rightful custodian of these documents. These documents are relevant to not only this case but potentially to other matters now in litigation involving the Church of Scientology, and potentially to Mr. Hurtado’s pending criminal charges. The undersigned seeks this Court’s Order for the proper handling and disposition, copying and/or distribution of these evidentiary materials pursuant to the Penal Code and the case law with regard to spoliation of evidence. Keith Henson has communicated his claim to this office that the documents are relevant to the Rule 60(b) motion he has either filed or intends to
file, and he has asked that the documents not be released from our firm. The documents are relevant as evidence of the payments made to Robert Cipriano during the time that he served as a witness against Graham Berry. The documents are relevant to the issue of whether the contacts between Eugene Ingram, Kendrick Moxon and various witnesses are appropriate, or not.”


Random Howdy

“Better to be pissed off than pissed on.”



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] Surviving Scientology’s Sea Org for children was a nightmare of parental abandonment
[TWO years ago] Izzy Chait, renowned art dealer and major Scientology figure, dead at 74
[THREE years ago] Scientologists are convinced that they can rescue the planet from deadly pandemic
[FOUR years ago] Sword-wielding, Bentley-driving man killed by police at Scientology org identified
[FIVE years ago] Scientologists are trying to convince each other that the new TV network is a roaring success
[SIX years ago] Scientology’s spies: L. Ron Hubbard’s twisted legacy that proved his sickness
[SEVEN years ago] Augustine: One weird trick every Scientologist needs to learn for real ‘total freedom’
[NINE years ago] Hey, you guys, the new Scientology E-meter is a hit!
[TEN years ago] LEAK: Narconon’s Legal Affairs Director Admits No Scientific Basis for Advertised Success Rates
[ELEVEN years ago] Sunday Funnies: LRH Gets an Answer from Tricky Dick!


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 2,986 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,491 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,041 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,031 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,922 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,226 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,097 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,202 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,679 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,991 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,557 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,476 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,644 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,225 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,486 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,522 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,238 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,802 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,117 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,292 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,843 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,974 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,312 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,167 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,286 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,642 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,945 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,051 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,449 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,325 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,908 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,403 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,657 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,766 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on April 1, 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, 1995-2022 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2022), 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


Tony Ortega at Rolling Stone


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