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Plaintiffs in Scientology trafficking case ask permission for appeal after getting derailed

Attorneys for Valeska Paris and Gawain and Laura Baxter have made their first filing to Judge Thomas Barber’s court since the shocking and disappointing March 31 decision by the judge derailing their lawsuit and granting Scientology’s motions for arbitration.

Saying his hands were tied, Judge Barber ruled that employment contracts signed by the former Sea Org workers obliged them not to sue the church in court, but to submit their grievances to Scientology’s own internal brand of “religious arbitration,” which requires a panel of three arbitrators who must be church members in good standing.

Only after such an arbitration is completed and accepted by the court could the three plaintiffs then appeal his decision.

But Valeska’s attorney Manuel Dominguez says that could literally take years, and so he’s asking the judge to grant a motion allowing an interlocutory appeal.


Dominguez identifies numerous issues in Barber’s decision, saying that they raise questions that the Eleventh Circuit should examine now, and not years down the road…

An appeal now would prevent a scenario in which the parties fully litigate the case in arbitration and then, following likely years of arbitration and the ultimate issuance of an award, the Eleventh Circuit decides that the case never should have been arbitrated, either because the Court should have decided the duress and fraud in the execution issues or because the arbitration violated Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights. The parties would then be forced to start at the beginning and litigate those issues in court. Guidance from the Eleventh Circuit on whether this case should be in arbitration is thus important to avoid potentially litigating the case twice.

Moreover, if the Eleventh Circuit does ultimately conclude after the arbitration that forcing Plaintiffs to participate in Scientology’s dispute resolution proceedings violates their First Amendment rights, the violation would have already occurred. Thus, review by the Eleventh Circuit now is necessary to ensure that Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights are fully protected.

In short, a decision that produces a “surprising and shocking” result, based on a body of law that is “not a model of clarity,” and that the Court reached because it believes that its “hands are tied” is exactly the sort of decision that is ripe for interlocutory appeal. As such, this Court should certify questions under 28 U.S.C. 1292(b) on both issues.

What Dominguez doesn’t mention there, however, is that the Eleventh Circuit has already ruled on a similar case involving Scientology’s religious arbitration, the Garcia case that took place earlier in the same courtroom in Tampa.

It seems a shame that these plaintiffs, who alleged such shocking and degrading treatment as Sea Org workers on Scientology’s ship the Freewinds, should have to ask Barber permission to appeal, and then even if he agrees, to go to an Eleventh Circuit that has already sided with Scientology on this issue. We’ll let you know what Barber decides.

Meanwhile, in the Danny Masterson retrial yesterday, there was quite an odd collection of things happening in and out of the courtroom, which we addressed with our end-of-the-day video.

We’ll only add that if the STAND League’s Eva Mahoney returns to court today, and sits quietly in press row like she did yesterday, she should simply be ignored.

The STAND League is Scientology’s fake grass-roots organization that attacks former Scientologists and journalists in the church’s grand tradition. It has zero influence, and its social media feeds have followers in the tens. It is seriously best just to ignore it completely.

We heard Mahoney say yesterday that her clerical friend would not be coming back, and so we don’t expect to see him again. But if he does, as long as he remains quiet and respectful in the courtroom as he did yesterday, then he’s not worth troubling over.

His name, it turns out, is N. J. “Skip” L’Heureux, Jr., a longtime shill for Scientology, which puts on “interfaith” events with numerous jackleg ministers as PR control.

Stefani Hutchison let us know she had an interesting encounter with him in 2019.

L’Heureux wrote a letter supporting Scientology to Bob Iger at the Disney Company in 2019 complaining about Leah’s show on A&E.


I actually called him to ask him about it. The conversation was very short.

I asked him if he was aware of what Scientology actually teaches and he responded: “I am somewhat familiar with them, but that is somewhat beside the point. They are a religious group and are entitled to exercise their faith as they see fit. And the attacks by the television programs are just unconscionable.”

I responded; “Can I ask, and I am asking you this respectfully, sir, can I ask why you believe The Aftermath is, why do you believe that’s an attack?”

Reverend L’Heureux: “I’ve watched several of the episodes and I’m very familiar with the anti-cult movement going back to the 70’s. And this is a page out of that playbook. You gang up on a group, you make accusations, you get people to agree with those accusations, put ‘em out there so everybody does it, you know, and the accusations you are making are not really substantiated. In any event I don’t think this conversation is going to go very far. But understand I did write that letter and I stand by it.”

Click and he hung up on me.

Excellent work, Stefani.

No doubt the STAND League sent Eva and Skip down to watch proceedings so they could then produce fiery blog posts about their outrage at how Scientology is being treated.

Seriously, people, just let them.


Technology Cocktail

“There is a phenomena series known as the ‘between-lives’ series, and people have some sort of a thing mocked up whereby somebody goes back through a betweenlives area. This can be plotted, it is not unusual, but it is certainly not a constant. Until thirteen or fourteen hundred the between-lives area operations weren’t thriving at all. Then they started to pick it up more and more. They had to knock witchcraft totally out of Europe before the between-lives area clubs started thriving. They had to knock out any idea about demons and spirits. In other words, they had to make one feel guilty for hanging around and admiring the trees with no body to look through.” — 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


“Today I’m going to talk to you severely. Ordinarily I jolly you along, you know, and everybody looks… Well, I hate to be this severe, but you are on the edges of the great adventure. And this separates the sheep from the goats, man. And separates the children from the characters who can do it. And you are adventured upon a period of auditing which requires far more precision, auditor presence and TRs than any auditing we have ever had. There’s certain ways to do this right, and there’s certain ways to do it wrong. The number of ways to do it wrong far exceed the ways to do it right. Any time you have somebody in training, he can always invent some new ways to do it wrong, but it’s very, very funny that he never invents — almost never — some way to do it right. Because the odds are very bad. The truth of the matter is that the auditing which you are embarked upon is in actual fact simpler than you would believe and simpler than you will believe for some time. And the main thing you are doing with it is far too much complication. That’s all. Just the complexities you’re adding into it are defeating you. And you’re taking too much time to accomplish what you’re accomplishing.” — L. Ron Hubbard, May 2, 1963


Avast, Ye Mateys

“The UK and SA inquiry scenes look hopeful if we keep our fingers crossed and the Gdn Office keeps as active as it has been, which we’re sure it will. This is the real power house that’s in action… We now own the 174′ MY Grinnel and as soon as it’s out of dock it will be the US Station Ship. It’s very sleek, has engines only slightly less HP than Apollos. Two strong 2000 HP GMs… Flag is now a happier atmosphere. In the field thanks to the days of raw recruits and Berez and the lies of B. Green in NY we’re looked on as a violent and savage ship. It’s a lie so it will blow away. Doesn’t do any harm anyway.” — The Commodore, May 2, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“The 1.1 subversive communists that have to be taken out of the communication lines of the public (for society to survive) have been identified! Daily Mail: ‘Big Tech moguls donated millions to groups tied to BLM co-founder.’ Covert hostility (1.1) commie leaders have to be sent to cantonements (FEMA camps) in times of political turmoil. According to LRH in the book ‘Science of Survival.’ How’s that going to be done? Otherwise, society will collapse.”


Past is Prologue

1996: Jeff Jacobsen posted some research concerning the basement of the Ft. Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida. “There is some controversy about whether the Ft. Harrison Hotel in Clearwater (which is a Scientology building) has a basement. Dennis Erlich claims he was locked in the basement as part of his RPF for doing something wrong. Brian Anderson, VP of the church in Clearwater (who is the president?) said on WMNF that Dennis is lying and there is no basement in the Ft. Harrison. I’ve heard that the latest KSW magazine also says there is no basement in the Ft. Harrison. Anyone can go over to the County Courthouse right next to the Ft. Harrison and look up property assessments for any building in Clearwater. The Ft. Harrison is listed as having a basement of 1806 square feet.”



Random Howdy

“The visual image of Tom the Jumping Jackass is priceless in itself and will stay with me for a very long time.”


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] A Balance of Nature employee wanted to prove Scientology’s influence, so they sent video
[TWO years ago] In Scientology, ‘making it go right’ is everything, even if it wrecks lives
[THREE years ago] Georgia anti-psychiatry legislator goes even bigger for Scientology in the pandemic
[FOUR years ago] What it’s like on the Scientology measles ship right now, according to former crew
[FIVE years ago] Fifty years later and post-Scientology, 60’s band People! aims for a comeback
[SIX years ago] Judge Whittemore puts his foot down: Scientology, cough up those phone numbers!
[SEVEN years ago] ABC’s ’20/20′ let Scientology trash Ron Miscavige — but here’s what you didn’t get to hear
[EIGHT years ago] More testimony that Scientology’s celebrities know all about Sea Org deprivations
[NINE years ago] SCIENTOLOGY DENIED: Federal judge finds that Garcia fraud lawsuit can continue
[TEN years ago] Dianetics: Super Colon Blow For Your Mind
[ELEVEN years ago] Kate Bornstein’s Amazing Voyage


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 3,017 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,522 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,072 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,062 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,953 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,257 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,128 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,233 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,680 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,022 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,588 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,507 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,675 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,256 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,517 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,553 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,269 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,833 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,148 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,323 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,874 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,005 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,343 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,198 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,317 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,673 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,976 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,082 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,480 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,356 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,939 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,434 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,688 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,797 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 2, 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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