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Dave’s winning streak: Has Scientology made itself lawsuit-proof?

Last Friday evening, we got the news that another lawsuit filed by former Scientologists had been torpedoed by a judge.

In this case, it was the federal labor trafficking lawsuit filed by former Sea Org workers Valeska Paris and Gawain and Laura Baxter, which made a major splash when it was filed in April 2022. And once again, the reason was that a court had found these former Scientology members could not sue the church in a court of law but instead, based on employment contracts they had signed, had to take their grievances to Scientology’s own internal “religious arbitration.”

Monday, the Tampa Bay Times reported on the ruling and quoted Scientology spokesman Ben Shaw saying, “We won.”

Note that he didn’t say, “this matter is going to arbitration where it belongs,” but “we won.”


Scientology obviously believes that when it forces a case into its own justice procedures, the case is over.

And looking back, we can see that former Scientologists have been having a very hard time suing Scientology, which at this point seems to have made itself all but lawsuit-proof with help from American judges.

Let’s check the record. And we’ll start in 2009, which seemed to be a huge turning point, when revelations about Scientology leader David Miscavige and the inner workings of the highest echelons of the organization (the ‘Truth Rundown’ series at the Tampa Bay Times) seemed to promise a new day.

2009 Marc & Claire Headley v. Church of Scientology International (Dismissed) Reciting the horrors of life in the Sea Org at Gold Base, the Headleys filed a federal labor trafficking lawsuit that was dismissed because of the “ministerial exception” afforded Scientology as a church. In an appellate ruling upholding that decision, the court recognized that the Headleys had been harmed, and suggested that suing under the trafficking statute was not the way to go. The Headleys were left with $43,000 in legal fees owed to Scientology that they were able to crowdsource after revealing that Scientology had offered to dismiss the fees if they would be willing to spy for the church.

2009 Laura DeCrescenzo v. Church of Scientology International (Settled) Laura was also suing over abuse as a Sea Org worker, and that she had been forced to have an abortion at only 17 years of age. Surviving an initial dismissal and then two subsequent motions for summary judgment, Laura’s case was finally, after 9 years, only a few days away from trial at Los Angeles Superior Court when Scientology leader David Miscavige threw in the towel and wrote a large check to make the case go away. (Terms were not released.) Along the way, Laura had to fight all the way to the US Supreme Court in order to get her personal files from the church, which contained stunning evidence of the abuse she endured. Laura’s case was the last real “win” against Scientology in court.

2013 Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Church of Scientology FSO (Forced into arbitration) The Garcias sued in Tampa federal court for fraud, alleging that they had been lied to in order to convince them to turn over hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. Scientology successfully forced this case into arbitration, even after admitting to the court that it had never held an arbitration in its 60-plus year history. Luis described the arbitration proceeding as a joke: He and Rocio weren’t allowed to have an attorney, they couldn’t bring smartphones, and 90 percent of the evidence they brought was disallowed by the “International Justice Chief,” Mike Ellis. But Judge James Whittemore accepted the result of the arbitration and his ruling was upheld by the Eleventh Circuit.

2013 Monique Rathbun v. Church of Scientology (Withdrawn) Monique was never a member of the Church of Scientology, but her husband, Marty Rathbun, was one of its highest members and had become a target of harassment after he defected in 2004. Monique argued that she was being harmed by that harassment, and her lawsuit survived an anti-SLAPP motion. She appeared to be in a very good legal position and her attorneys believed they would be able to get David Miscavige into deposition despite an initial ruling that had spared him from giving one. But then, early in 2016, Monique suddenly fired her attorneys, withdrew her lawsuit, and Marty began making videos slamming Mike Rinder, Leah Remini, and other critics of Scientology. Those videos have appeared regularly on Scientology’s own attack websites and social media accounts, making it plain that Rathbun had become the church’s go-to attack dog after his wife killed her lawsuit.

2019 Valerie Haney v. Church of Scientology International (Forced into arbitration) Valerie famously escaped from a Scientology base in the trunk of a car, and then went to work for Leah Remini, experiencing a furious case of harassment and intimidation, she alleged in her lawsuit. But an exit agreement she signed with the church obliged her not to sue, ruled Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Burdge, and he granted Scientology’s motion to force her case into arbitration. After fighting that ruling for three years, Valerie is now preparing to go through the arbitration, and recently gave an interview about it at Rolling Stone.

2019 The Danny Masterson accusers (‘Bixler’) v. Church of Scientology International (On hold until after criminal case) The women accusing Danny Masterson of raping them (which is the subject of his retrial, beginning April 17) sued Masterson and the Church for what the say is a persistent “Fair Game” campaign of harassment since they came forward to the LAPD in 2016. The lawsuit was initially forced into arbitration, but a California appeals court reasoned that because the harassment occurred after the women had left the church, then the arbitration contracts should not apply, and restored the lawsuit. It’s now on hold until after the criminal trial is completed.

2019 Jane Doe v. Church of Scientology FSO (Withdrawn) The same Philly legal team that filed the Valerie Haney and Masterson accuser lawsuits in 2019 also filed a case in Miami on behalf a woman going by the name of Jane Doe. She alleged that she had been sexually molested as a child while working for Scientology in Clearwater and Venezuela. After Clearwater’s police department declined to prosecute the matter criminally, however, the lawsuit was withdrawn.

2022 Baxters/Valeska Paris v. Church of Scientology International (Forced into arbitration) This case was in federal court, it featured multiple plaintiffs, a huge and powerful legal team behind them, and horrible allegations about the abuse of child workers and adult indentured servants in Scientology’s Sea Org and aboard its cruise ship, the Freewinds. But District Judge Thomas Barber, acknowledging how wrong it appeared, said his hands were tied, pointing to the Eleventh Circuit ruling in the Garcia case which had happened in the same courtroom, and ruled that he had no choice but to force the case into Scientology arbitration.

Eight lawsuits. Six either withdrawn or forced into arbitration. One settled (favorably for Laura DeCrescenzo). One case still active, but on hold.

We expect, like in Valerie’s case, the Baxters and Valeska Paris will vigorously oppose the decision by Judge Barber to force their lawsuit into arbitration. After Valerie goes through her arbitration, she will then go back to court and ask Judge Gail Killefer to throw out the results and restore her lawsuit. The Baxters and Valeska will do the same, if they too must go through an arbitration. And perhaps these cases will be able to avoid the fate of the Garcia lawsuit, which remained derailed even after the kangaroo court of a Scientology religious arbitration.

That leaves only the Masterson accusers’ lawsuit as currently active, after it managed to survive being forced, temporarily, into Scientology’s arbitration. And the Philly legal team that initially filed it has been replaced. Jane Doe 1 hired Brad Edwards, a Florida attorney who hounded Jeffrey Epstein on behalf of the predatory financier’s victims. And Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3 have hired the David Boies firm. These are heavy hitters, and that bodes well for these plaintiffs.


And we know what’s coming next in that lawsuit, after the criminal case is over (and whether or not Danny Masterson is headed to prison): Scientology has already said that it intends to file an anti-SLAPP motion in an attempt to get the case thrown out of court.

Will Dave’s winning streak finally, then, run out?


Technology Cocktail

“Which is highest, the Theta Clear or the Operating Thetan? Well, the answer to that is not what we used to think. As DOINGNESS is not really at the top we find that we will probably make an Operating Thetan before we achieve Theta Clear for a Theta Clear would probably not be much interested in operating. Therefore we see that the actual goal we are trying to reach, no matter in which limited sense, is Operating Thetan.” — 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 [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter [42] John Sweeney


Source Code

“You will be seeing a lot of this org board. And I’m merely pointing out to you about this, that there is something about it to understand. The first is that the org board does not change regardless of the size of the organization. It may get longer at the bottom, but it doesn’t change in its significant characteristics, departments, divisions or anything else. They remain constant, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a Class Zero Org consisting of three guys trying to lift their heads up off the pavement as an organization, or an organization of 200,000 staff members, it would be the same org board. And I know that startles you, but I almost told you the real figure: two billion. This board has a lot of back history, and it is a refined board. And I may as well tell you the truth here amongst us girls. This is a refined board that I spoke to you about in an earlier lecture of an old galactic civilization. And you say what’s that doing amongst us? Well, we applied Scientology to it, and found out why the civilization eventually failed. They lacked a couple of departments and that was enough to mess it all up. And they only lasted eighty trillion. We’ll be going a lot longer than that, so we want to get something substantial. We don’t want these temporary fly-by-night affairs, you know.” — L. Ron Hubbard, April 6, 1965


Avast, Ye Mateys

“ARTICLE: MSH has just had a hard hitting article by her published in the British ‘Mayfair’ magazine. SYSTEMS: The IBM Systems Engineers sales handbook is now drawn up using Scientology basic. This is the world’s largest electronic firms. The Moon Rocket and Fail-Safe bomb systems and almost every corporation’s computers are all IBM. I’m sure they’ve forgotten they used to use me in their ads 32 years ago ‘Famous Writer Uses IBM Electric Typewriters’. VALIDATION: When one wishes to help, is trying to help and is brought up sharly, he gets a failed purpose. I’d be very glad to hear how anyone’s effort to help has become invalidated. That’s all we’ve got really — both yours and my willingness to help.” — The Commodore, April 6, 1970



Overheard in the FreeZone

“It’s been my life goal since embarking onto Scientology to have some kind of knowledge retention or spiritual stabilization that will serve me on the next ‘go-around’ whenever and whenever that may be? Through all my life’s adventures my attention has always been on this! Even moreso, like the late great Chick Corea’s music philosophy reflects, a hope to eventually ‘return to forever.’ If we somehow don’t learn to ‘end cycle’ on our slavery to the body, whatever will our civilization become?”


Past is Prologue

1998: Michail Brzitwa reported that German TV aired a segment on Gabe Cazares, who led a German delegation through Clearwater, Florida. “There was a five minute report on how former Clearwater Mayor Gabe Cazares perceives the ongoing occupation of downtown Clearwater by the ‘Church of Scientology’. Mr. Cazares lead the reporters through parts of Clearwater where scientologists purchased very many premises through the last 20 years. The TV team and Mr. Cazares were followed closely all the time by scientology official Brian Anderson who, when asked, said he wanted to know everything that’s being said. Mr. Cazares mentioned the scientology secret service, the ‘Office of Special Affairs’, OSA. Then a short interview with attorney Ken Dandar and (I think) Dell Liebreich about the ongoing lawsuit against scientology concerning this suspicious incident.”


Random Howdy

“Scientology ‘the religion’ is still engaged in medical fraud and could be charged as such if politicians in general had any balls or morals.”


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] The Scientology oversharer goes Clear! Check out this epic graduation speech.
[TWO years ago] A fight against Scientology ‘disconnection’ now a remarkable illustrated book
[THREE years ago] Scientology million-dollar donor on COVID-19: ‘Healthy people don’t get sick’
[FOUR years ago] Paulette Cooper’s ‘Scandal of Scientology’: The book that made Miss Lovely a target
[FIVE years ago] Is Scientology really any different than other ‘churches’? Oh, you bet. Here’s one example.
[SIX years ago] Scientology disconnection: A toxic policy that punishes innocent people every day of the week
[SEVEN years ago] Lucia Ribisi ditches Scientology and says of famous dad Giovanni: ‘He’s questioned it’
[EIGHT years ago] Mike Rowe uses Facebook to rip Scientology over the treatment of his friend Spanky Taylor
[NINE years ago] Scientology Sunday Funnies: Sydney nears its big day, and Silicon Valley is in high gear!
[TEN years ago] One of Scientology’s Early Celebrities: Charlie Manson!
[ELEVEN years ago] Nancy Cartwright and Karen Black Announced For ‘Writers of the Future’ Gala — a Direct Response to the Voice?


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 2,991 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,496 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,046 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,036 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,927 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,231 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,102 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,207 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,684 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,996 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,562 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,481 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,649 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,230 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,491 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,527 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,243 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,807 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,122 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,297 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,848 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,979 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,317 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,172 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,291 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,647 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,950 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,056 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,454 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,330 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,913 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,408 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,662 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,771 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on April 6, 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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