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After final rebuttal from prosecution this morning, the jury gets the case

[Defense attorney Philip Cohen, DDAs Reinhold Mueller and Ariel Anson, and Danny Masterson. Photos by @MeghannCuniff]

We’re still marveling this morning at the display put on yesterday by Deputy DA Ariel Anson as she began the government’s closing at the Danny Masterson retrial in Los Angeles.

After the first trial ended in a hung jury and mistrial in November, we said that one thing the prosecution could have done better was to provide the jury with a stronger narrative. Listening to a parade of witnesses in a complex, three-victim trial like this was hard enough on the men and women asked to sit in judgment. What they needed, we figured, was a more cohesive story to help them put together so much evidence that covered such a long span of time.

Well, that’s just what Anson did yesterday, grabbing everyone’s attention right from the start with her opening words: “It starts with a drink.” She then began providing that compelling narrative we felt was missing from the first trial…

The defendant drugs his victims to be in control. He does this to take away their ability to consent. This is not about consent. This is not about a defendant confusing their signals. When he drugs them, he wants to be in control. You don’t want to have sex? You don’t have a choice. You don’t want to have anal sex? You don’t have a choice. He makes that choice, and he does it over and over and over.

You saw those words in our report yesterday, and we could tell from your comments that you got a sense of how powerful they were. We just wanted to add, we just wish we could convey to you how well Anson came across. She’s the shortest person at the attorney table, but she commanded the attention of everyone in the room.


We won’t deny that defense attorney Philip Cohen, who followed her, skillfully does what he always does, raising questions about the differences in what the Jane Does said over time, in interviews they first gave police in 2004 and 2017 and what they’re testifying to now. Some of these differences seem slight, but Cohen knows that he simply needs to raise enough “reasonable doubt” in a few jurors’ minds to create another hung jury.

But we thought he might have made a misstep this time. He tried to convince the jury that Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 had embellished their stories because the incidents they described did not have enough “force” to qualify for the charges that Masterson is facing. With Jane Doe 1, Cohen implied that she might have made up the detail about Masterson brandishing a gun in order to embellish an incident that otherwise had no force. And Jane Doe 2 might have added drugging details for the same reason.

Deputy DA Reinhold Mueller, who came on to begin the government’s final rebuttal, made Cohen pay for those two suggestions. He pointed out the details of Jane Doe 1’s incident — that according to her testimony Masterson had smothered her with a pillow, pinned her arms back, and clamped his hand down on her throat while he was raping her — and said there was simply no question that this was the essence of force being used on a woman. And the same for Jane Doe 2, who testified to begging repeatedly that Danny stop as he flipped her over grabbed her hips and “jackhammered” her from behind. Again, this was plenty of force to fit the legal requirement.

It was a powerful reminder to finish the day. This morning, Mueller will finish the People’s final rebuttal and the jury will have the case.

We’ll have our reports coming to you from the courthouse, and then we’ll begin our verdict watch.

This time, the jury has a much more compelling narrative to sink its teeth into. But will it be enough?


Technology Cocktail

“Being clear gives one the potential of being and makes the being rather easy, and fun. Further, being cleared makes it possible to continue to be something. There’s nothing wrong with being clear. A person ought to be. The state is so valuable several hundreds of millions of people in the past 2,500 years have concentrated on nothing else.” — 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

“Power of choice, when that is too badly thrown aside, people object to this thing. That is why slavery has gotten a bad name as a practice. In actual fact you look at the economics of it and you find a lot of things about a slave society which are quite interesting. You find a society which is, has no objection to this sort of thing and which can free slaves rather easily and you find a lot of people walking up and saying, ‘I want to be a slave.’ But slavery itself is this thing of a beingness, an enforced beingness over which an individual has no power of choice and therefore it gets a bad name.” — L. Ron Hubbard, May 17, 1962



Avast, Ye Mateys

“The activity called ‘Black Propaganda’ consists of spreading lies by hidden sources. It inevitably results in injustices being done by those who operate without verifying the truth. For instance all the attacks on Scientology were Black Propaganda from hidden Fascist groups. This has caused injustice. Black Propaganda was a Nazi specialty. But injustice recoills on those who deal in it. Thus a hidden lying source can cause authority to act. Thus authority can be undermined by being made to commit injustices….If the world were honest, justice and the need for it would vanish. The road out is the Road to Truth.” — The Commodore, May 17, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Scientology was the use of science, in the 20th century, to explain the material phenomena created by the spirit. The previous case to explain material phenomena created by the spirit was the book Principia Mathematica by Isaac Newton. Science as practiced by Newton was attacked by the Inquisition. Similarly, Scientology or the study of knowledge was attacked by the inquisition of the 20th century, namely, psychology (APA), psychiatry (WFMH) and medicine (AMA). Newton was protected from the Inquisition by being at a distance from Spain and by residing in a country with a separate branch of the Catholic Church, the Church of England. Scientology had as protection the Fair Game policy, that could be described as a policy to destroy its enemies after they are defined as enemy by a list of destructive actions and a publication.”


Past is Prologue

1997: Documents from L. Ron Hubbard’s file with the Coroner in San Luis Obispo were made available this week, showing the condition of Hubbard when he died. “The body of a tall white male said to have been in his 70’s. The body shows abundant reddish-white facial hair and eyebrows of reddish-white color. Scalp hair is long, thinning, receding at the forehead and of greyish-white color. Reddish-white body hair is present on the surface. Fingernails are long, unkempt. Nail beds are of bluish-red discoloration. Toenails are long, unkempt and there is bluish-red cyanosis present. The back is covered by livores. There is a bandaide affixed to the right gluteal area where 10 recent needle marks are recognized of 5-8 cm. There are no abnormalities upon inspection of the back. The body is without bruises or injuries or palpable masses.”


Random Howdy

“Sherbet, if you saw ‘Heavenly Creatures’ — the best film Peter Jackson ever did — you would understand the similarities between the folie à deux world the girls live in and that of Scientologists. Plus it’s got clay modeling as well as Kate Winslet and ‘Rose’ from ‘Two and a Half Men’.”



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] Attorney to CA Supremes: Here’s how you can make history in Danny Masterson’s rape case
[TWO years ago] Scientology hits on the perfect theme for its Chicago fundraising: Blues Brothers!
[THREE years ago] Leaked audio of Scientology ship commander giving marching orders during the pandemic
[FOUR years ago] Once again, Scientology celebrates a Nation of Islam bigot tonight in Los Angeles
[FIVE years ago] Living with Scientology ‘disconnection’: ‘It’s important to never give up hope’
[SIX years ago] San Diego on Saturday: Psych-busting and Scientology hip hop!
[SEVEN years ago] Judge Doyle: I have Scientologists in the family, but I can be impartial in forced-abortion case
[EIGHT years ago] ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ goes on the road — and so does Paulette Cooper!
[NINE years ago] L. Ron Hubbard describes infiltrating a veterans’ hospital in a lecture only for Scientologists
[TEN years ago] And Now For Something Completely Different: Scientology Stand Up!


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 3,032 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,537 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,087 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,077 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,968 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,272 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,143 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,248 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,695 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,037 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,603 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,522 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,690 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,271 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,532 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,568 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,284 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,848 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,163 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,338 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,889 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,020 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,358 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,213 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,332 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,688 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,991 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,097 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,495 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,371 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,954 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,449 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,703 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,812 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 17, 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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