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The Bad Cadet: New book looks at Scientology in a coming-of-age story

We first heard from Katherine Spallino several years ago, and we’re happy to see that the book she’s been working on, The Bad Cadet: Growing Up in the Church of Scientology’s Sea Organization, is now available for you to buy at Amazon.

She’s generously provided us with an excerpt for you to see today, and from it we think you’ll get the idea that Katherine’s book is less like other memoirs coming out about Scientology’s Sea Org as she tells a coming-of-age story.

We found the writing charming, and we think you will too. Here’s the part of the book she wanted us to share…


The Bad Cadet: Growing Up in the Church of Scientology’s Sea Organization
By: Katherine Spallino


Suppressive People were coming to PAC Base today, and I was determined to find out why. I didn’t care that at muster earlier the EPF I/C had warned us to keep out of sight. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

I had been on the EPF a few weeks now, and I was enjoying it. This was not because I liked restudying the courses, but because there were hot guys to flirt with. I woke up each morning excited for the day. I was aware that my intentions were wrong, but I couldn’t help myself. I should be focusing on becoming an ideal Sea Org member, but all I could think about was boys, boys, boys.

On top of that, there were not many girls on the EPF. It was as if I had arrived at the perfect time. The other girls in our dorm were younger than me, with the youngest being twelve. They had parents who were parishioners of the church and had gone to private schools called Renaissance Academy and Delphi Academy that used L. Ron Hubbard’s study technology. They were shy, quiet, and obedient. Everything the Sea Org could ask for to be molded into top-performing Sea Org members. Being around them helped me be in-ethics. I followed the rules, I was less likely to be loud, and I was more “in valence,” or at least in the valence of what the Sea Org expected of me. But now, I could feel myself reverting to the old me. I wanted to know what was going on with those SPs, and I didn’t care if it was against the rules.

My chance came later that day as I was mopping the tiled hallway leading into the Complex elevator. A unit paused near me as they were passing through. Their unit I/C, Hannah, had stopped to chat with my unit I/C. I swished my mop back and forth, but my ears perked up when I heard words float to me. “. . . protesters . . . outside . . . not allowed . . .”

I spotted my friend Grant in the other unit. I wondered if he knew what was going on. I waved my arm at him to get his attention and he jogged over, his eyes shining with excitement.

“Are they here?” I asked.

“Yeah. They’re in front of AOLA right now.”

“What’s on their signs?” I asked quietly. It was common knowledge that it was frowned upon to discuss what the protestors were there for. But my whole life I had never been given a clear answer for why these people hated Scientology so much. I was just told they were Suppressive People. I wanted to know what made them Suppressive. I knew I could trust Grant to not write me up. He was new to Scientology and had only joined the EPF a couple of weeks ago. He had already had the temerity to question LRH policy a few times.

Grant grabbed the mop bucket and pushed it so it looked like we were a team working together in case anyone looked over.

“I don’t know,” Grant said. “I tried to get Hannah to go closer when we were outside, but she said we needed to stay out of their sight.”

Grant’s unit was gesturing for him to join up with them, but he pretended like he didn’t see.


“How often are protesters here?” he asked. I moved the mop back and forth as I thought about it.

“Well, since I was a kid there have always been random people trying to film us at the Ranch. That happened like once or twice a year. And then sometimes I’ve seen protesters here on L. Ron Hubbard Way, but it wasn’t all the time.” I frowned. “I feel like it’s more often now.”

As I said that I realized that it was true. This year there had already been several occurrences of protestors compared to the year before, when I only knew of two instances.

“I wonder why there’s more?” I said.

“Grant,” Hannah called. “Let’s go!”

“Shit,” Grant said, looking over at his unit. “I better go. Let me know if you find out anything.” He turned and jogged over to his unit.

I continued mopping the floor as I thought about the protestors. Why were they here? Why were they coming more often? I knew that I shouldn’t even be wondering, but I couldn’t help it. I wanted to know what the SPs were so mad about. I finished mopping my area and joined up with the rest of the unit. My I/C, Shauna, was telling them that we could go report to the EPF office now for a ten-minute break before muster.

“I’ll put away the mops,” I volunteered.

Shauna thanked me, and the rest of them headed off. As I pushed the two mop buckets down the hallway, I decided that, instead of coming back through the ground floor hallway, I would cut through ASHO and walk back to the EPF office on L. Ron Hubbard Way so I could try to catch a glimpse of the signs. I put the mops away, then slunk out the front door of ASHO reception and headed out to the street.

It was a lovely sunny day. I felt the warmth beat down on me as I stood on the stairs leading down to L. Ron Hubbard Way. I looked over toward AOLA, using my hand to shield my eyes against the bright sunlight. I could see a small crowd of people standing in front of the building with signs. Most of them were in regular T-shirts and shorts. They didn’t look at all as menacing as they were made out to be, but I guess Suppressive People didn’t dress any differently than us. Some of the Sea Org security guards were on their bikes nearby watching them. I trotted down the stairs and started down L. Ron Hubbard Way, squinting my eyes to try to read the signs.

One of the security guards guarding “the protesters peeled off and came biking over to me.


I pretended like I didn’t know he was coming and continued my stroll.

“Hey,” he said as he pulled up next to me.


“Oh, hey,” I said. “What’s going on over there?” I asked.

“Just some SP’s. But you need to go back inside. You don’t need to see this bullshit.”

“Okay, yeah, I’m going in. I was planning on going in through the canteen area because that’s closest to the EPF office,” I lied.

“No, go through the Lebanon Hall entrance,” he said, pointing to the entrance nearby.

“Fine,” I said nonchalantly, as if he hadn’t just ruined my investigative plans. He biked off as I turned to head into Lebanon Hall.

Should I look?

I wanted to see the signs, but I was worried there would be OT information on them. OT meant you were an Operating Thetan and you were at the highest levels of spiritual enlightenment. Since I was a young girl, I had been told not to look at protestors’ signs because they could have OT III data. It could ruin your chance to go up the Bridge and potentially cause physical harm and even death. I didn’t understand how that could be possible, but it frightened me. Despite all this, I wanted to see what was written on them.

I turned my head and looked. Words jumped out at me. There didn’t seem to be any OT information, so that was good, although how would I know, since the OT data was secret? But these signs just seemed to be talking about “Lisa McPherson.”

I had no idea who that was. Maybe she was sending people to protest for her. Was Lisa McPherson another SP like David Mayo? David Mayo was a name I had heard since childhood. I knew he was the worst SP in the world, although I didn’t know what for. No one ever talked about David Mayo anymore. It was like he was Voldemort, a.k.a. He Who Must Not Be Named.

“Hurry up!”

I startled and looked over. The security guard was still there waiting. He gestured for me to get inside.

I nodded and opened the door to the building. I made my way down the stairs to the ground floor and headed to the EPF office. I picked up my pace. I was excited to find Grant and tell him what I saw. Maybe since he had just been out in the wog world before coming here, he would know who this Lisa McPherson was.

EPFers were sitting at the tables chatting as they waited for muster to be called when I walked in. Grant looked up and gestured at me. I hurried over and sat next to him. Two other EPFers were sitting at his table too, but they were my friends, so I knew they would like to hear what I had to say. Hopefully they could be trusted not to write me up.

I sat down and whispered to Grant everything that I had seen.


“Who’s Lisa McPherson?” he interrupted.

“I don’t know.” I shrugged. “I was hoping maybe you had heard of her.

“The sign said ‘something’ for Lisa McPherson. I couldn’t see what the ‘something’ said—”

Grant made a face warning me to shut up when a hand grabbed my arm. I was wrenched up and out my chair.

“What the fu—” I said, turning to yell at whoever just grabbed me, thinking it was another EPFer getting overexcited about something. But before I could finish my sentence, I saw it was Mr. Johnson, the Commanding Officer for PAC Base. She gripped my arm and yanked me toward the EPF I/C’s office, pushing me inside and slamming the door shut. Mr. Cromwell, the new EPF MAA, looked up from her desk, startled.

“Did you hear what this SP is doing?” Mr. Johnson shouted . . .”

Pick up your copy of The Bad Cadet at Amazon.

Katherine Spallino grew up on a secluded ranch within the Cadet Org, the Church of Scientology’s Sea Org school for children. She is no longer a Scientologist and is a stay-at-home mom happily raising three rambunctious boys (two of whom are twins) in Minneapolis with her husband. Katherine is working on her second novel, The Bad Scientologist. Follow her on Instagram @thebadcadet and twitter @badcadet to receive updates and news.



Technology Cocktail


“This threat to havingness is that which most prevents the preclear from having things. It is that which stands in his way to having and is thus a problem to him which he hasn’t under control.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1958



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

“In the Western world there’s not even a Tradition of philosophy. There’s no Tradition of — what equivalent Western word is there for a guru? There isn’t, and yet an Indian wouldn’t know how to go through his day without knowing this word, guru, somehow or another. You get the idea, see? We did a survey in Washington, DC about 1955 which was a very intriguing survey. Because I wanted to know, I thought these birds would realize that the psychiatrists were — let’s put it in a more elegant sense than it deserves — that the psychiatrists were cutting into their racket. So we got ahold of all the ministers in Washington, DC on the idea that they might have some sensibility with regard to all this and asked them if they thought this was the case. No, No. Any time one of their congregation showed the least signs of becoming nervous, they instantly rushed him to the electric shock machine. Seventeen hundred and eight ministers out of seventeen hundred and ten were wildly in favor of the mental hospital and the electric shock machine as soon as possible. Why, the poor dopes! They didn’t realize that that religious ecstasy was the only thing which kept them whizzing. If anybody had suddenly stood up in their congregation and said, ‘I embrace the Lord,’ or something like that, they would have said, ‘Dr. Sparks, would you please send a wagon over right away, quick.’ See? In other words, the whole field of religion had been eaten up in this particular direction which I thought was rather amazing.” — L. Ron Hubbard, April 14, 1964


Avast, Ye Mateys

“Several people are nominated to the Never-be-a-smuggler Club. Turning on bright lights, flashing flashlights toward the beach, opening up unnecessarily on the radio all disqualify one from being an Expert Smuggler. Such club members wind up in calabogos (jail) on suspicion. Pausing off the port as we did is not very good practise. Thanks to the guys who opened the cattledoor. They should however use lifelines when working so. And please can’t we oil all these reluctant hinges some calm day? Anyway our telex traffic was all good news. You can get off mail you see.” — The Commodore, April 14, 1969


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Just a couple of days before I completed New OT V, I was amazed on how I reacted on a person who decided to totally invalidate and degrade me in a status meeting. I was totally exterior, not being affected at all and actually seeing that the other members weren’t even really listening to him. I just gave him an acknowledgement and he sat down. And the meeting continued as if nothing happened. Normally this would have been dramatic and I wouldn’t sleep for days wondering what the others thought. Now, as a New OT V, I can attest that that event actually never happened; it just died and faded away. It is not part of any universe or any track. It is erased.”


Past is Prologue


1999: From Jens Tingleff, a protest at Birmingham: “Lots and lots of clams at the org (20-30 students). During their breaks they would come out and listen to us (huddling in the doorway as they grabbed a smoke out of the rain). John did his usual unassisted shouting and Dave kept up a running commentary and sing-along on the sound system. We played the tape of Hubbard’s rantings again and again. The students came over to banter. They seemed frankly surprised at the ‘space alien’ thing. ‘Why *dead* space Aliens??’ they asked, sweetly. I said the banner wasn’t completely correct, in that it was actually the *ghosts* of space aliens, but this still didn’t sound reasonable to them. They asked where we had seen that, and we told them (truthfully) that we had seen the OTIII texts in Hubbard’s own handwriting. ‘You *yourself* saw this??’ – ‘Yep!’ The leaflet handed out by the clams was actually a counter-picket leaflet. Anyway, the front page says ‘Luckily not everyone listens to the cautionary, carping criticism of those who fear competition.’ The inside is mainly a plug for some book by the Fat Fraud titled ‘Scientology : The Fundamentals of Thought’. It has what we hope is *not* a unique selling point: ‘It contains the basics of Scientology. Real answers that you can use right now. No mumbo jumbo, no human sacrifice, no initiation. Just pure truth about the basic laws of life.'”


Random Howdy

“Brand new account created just for this idiotic hit and run. These people couldn’t troll if their lives depended on it.”


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 propaganda masterpiece: Grant Cardone’s COO coughs up $1.1 million
[TWO years ago] Scientology’s founder said Mars was inhabited, & now a Scientologist helps run Perseverance!
[THREE years ago] Scientology logic: Blame the media for fake virus news while promising superhuman powers
[FOUR years ago] L. Ron Hubbard defines religion for you skeptical non-Xenu believers
[FIVE years ago] Another Scientologist runs for office in Nevada — but her campaign says she’s not a member
[SIX years ago] Scientology invited local business owners to its Clearwater celeb party. Well, except one.
[EIGHT years ago] Announcing a new video series — The stories of young Scientologists not told in ‘Going Clear’
[NINE years ago] Scientology litigation always has surprises: A new wrinkle from Narconon’s attorneys
[TEN years ago] Writers of the Future Live-Blogging! Black Tie Not Required


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 2,999 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,504 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,054 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,044 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,935 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,239 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,110 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,215 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,692 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,004 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,570 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,489 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,657 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,238 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,499 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,535 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,251 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,815 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,130 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,305 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,856 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,987 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,325 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,180 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,299 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,655 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,958 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,064 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,462 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,338 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,921 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,416 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,670 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,779 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on April 14, 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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