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Former top Scientology executive who vanished in 2004 subject of new international search

[Jenna Elfman at the 2003 Hollywood Celebrity Centre gala. And who’s that behind her?]

One of the things we most appreciated about first getting to know Mike Rinder in 2011 is that he helped us understand exactly what it was like to be a prisoner in David Miscavige’s notorious gulag for his own executives, “The Hole.”

First exposed by the Tampa Bay Times in its monumental 2009 series, “The Truth Rundown,” descriptions of The Hole clued the public into just how sadistic Scientology’s ruthless leader is. In early 2004 Miscavige created the prison by locking a couple of dozen of his trusted aides in a double-wide trailer on the Int Base in San Jacinto, California that had previously served as some offices.

In his increasing paranoia, Miscavige simply locked up some of his loyal lieutenants in an office and kept them there. For years.

Rinder was sent there to be a prisoner in 2006, and over a few different stays ended up spending about two years in the Hole, he told us. And thanks to his eventually getting out of Scientology entirely, he was able to help us, with Amy Scobee’s help, put together a comprehensive list of all the prisoners in the Hole, which we published at the Village Voice in 2012.

After the Tampa Bay Times exposed The Hole’s existence in 2009, Miscavige made changes so that, if the FBI came knocking (and it just about did that year), his prison wouldn’t be such an obvious concentration camp.


When Valerie Haney left the base in 2016, The Hole still existed, she told us, but in a different form. The prisoners were still segregated from the general population at Int Base, but they could at least go home to an apartment to spend the night.

So, although the severe depravations of the Hole may have been attenuated, we still haven’t heard a word, nearly 20 years later now, about some of the people that Miscavige turned into prisoners.

And, the US government, except for that FBI interest in 2009-2010, just hasn’t seemed to care.

So it came as a surprise that someone, at least, is making a very concerted effort to find out what Scientology is doing with one of its original Hole inhabitants.

Some journalists in Austria in the spring began sending repeated requests for information to Scientology officials and to Austrian government agencies, asking why they couldn’t get some word, any word at all, about what had happened to an Austrian-born Scientology executive named Kurt Weiland.

At one time, Weiland was a very big figure in Scientology. You can still find descriptions of his rise to prominence on some of Scientology’s own outdated, defunct websites.

An ordained Scientology minister, Mr. Weiland became a Scientologist in 1973 and a Church staff member in 1974. He has worked at all levels of the Church’s ecclesiastical management. In the 1970s, as an executive with the Church of Scientology in Munich, he became familiar with every aspect of administering a local parish. Following this, Mr. Weiland became the Director of Public Affairs for the churches in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. In 1981, he assumed responsibility for government and legal affairs for all Churches of Scientology in Europe and the Near East. In 1987, Mr. Weiland assumed his current executive position with the Church of Scientology International.

That “current” position referred to in this old website was External Affairs Director, Office of Special Affairs International. He worked directly for Mike Rinder, and helped OSA’s plots and schemes for external affairs.

In the mid-1990s, that meant doing battle with Germany for the way it was cracking down on Scientology. So that’s why you can still find photos and videos of Weiland wrangling Scientology’s celebrities to oppose Germany’s crackdown.


Scientology’s caption of this 1997 Freedom magazine photo: “Kurt Weiland, D/CO OSA Int, briefs John Travolta and Chick Corea before their appearance at the Helsinki Commission hearings on human rights abuses in Germany.”

And Weiland was still hobnobbing with Scientology celebrities as late as 2003, just before the creation of the Hole, which is testified to by the photo of him with Jenna Elfman at 2003’s Celebrity Centre gala (see above).

But then Weiland was thrown in the Hole, which Rinder confirmed for us when we put together our list. He also told Marty Rathbun about a case of Weiland literally being tortured in the Hole while Mike was a prisoner. He told Marty about it in a well-known series of videos the pair made while fishing from a canal behind Marty’s house in south Texas in 2011…


Kurt Weiland [was] sitting in a chair with two people standing over him in the center conference room in that building, and the AC in there was all above that building, and that room used to get frigid cold and the rest of the place would stay hot… anyway, he had Kurt sitting in this chair and he started pouring water over his head like just a bit, not like drenching him, but just a bit and a bit more and a bit more and a bit more. This went on for like a half an hour and eventually he was soaked from head to toe, but he was also cold and in fact he turned blue. Marty, I’m not kidding, he was blue. His lips were white, he was shaking and uncontrollably, unable to talk, in the end, because he’d sat there for 30 minutes under a freezing cold air conditioning vent with cold water being poured on a him, and it eventually lowered his body temperature…

Like other longtime, high-ranking executives that Miscavige turned on, figures like Heber Jentzsch, Guillaume Lesevre, Marc Yager, Norman Starkey, Ray Mithoff, and many others, they simply have never been heard from again.

The really unusual thing, however, is that someone is actually trying to do something about it.

In March, Scientology’s Karin Pouw and attorney Kendrick Moxon began receiving repeated requests for information about Weiland from journalists saying they were working for an Austrian news service based in Vienna.

The journalists also contacted the Austrian consulate in Los Angeles.

They tell us that the only response they received to their numerous requests for information was a single message from Moxon that read, “Who are you?”

They did share with us replies from the consulate, which acknowledged receiving their inquiries.

Well, it doesn’t look like the Austrian journalists are getting very far. But we appreciated that they reached out to us and encouraged us to get the word out that they are trying to find out what has happened to their countryman, Weiland.

Like we said, that anyone at all is making an attempt, even a quixotic one, to find out something about David Miscavige’s gulag prisoners is worth noting, we figure.


Technology Cocktail

“At last we have a successful way for the untrained person or the financially embarrassed Scientologist to make it all the way to release and prepare himself for theta clear at low cost. Heavily supervised co-auditing at HAS level has become possible with my development of two things, 1. Processes that undercut most reality levels, and 2. Muzzled auditing. For as little as 2 gns (or $10) a week, one can have the major benefits of Scientology by giving a little and getting a lot.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1959




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

“Very few engrams start out with words, usually they start out with something like ‘splat’ or ‘clink’ or ‘tinkle’ or ‘thump.’ There’s something ahead of what you are running. People who have non-sonic don’t pick up this material too well, but it will still come through.” — L. Ron Hubbard, July 11, 1950


Avast, Ye Mateys

“Our Richard Gorman has done the most effectively gruesome anti-psychiatry poster I’ve ever seen. I photographed it in colour and it’s off to the pubs for colour photolitho and the world. US news has barely mentioned Rockefellers many later visits! Only European carried it hard. Couldn’t be US Press is censored? Or maybe owned? We were told to sail by pilot due to storm. We’ll be going when it abates. We’re all cleared out of port. Hence no liberty possible, sorry.” — The Commodore, July 11, 1969


Overheard in the FreeZone

“We are all spiritual beings. It is easy to hate the murderer, to hate the rapist, to hate Hitler – but even they are spiritual beings trapped in their own nightmare. If any of us were placed in the same life as they were, with the same experiences, same parents, same friends, we would have been exactly as they are. I know that can offend people, but our experiences determine our choices in life, this is a scientific fact. It may seem like I am pardoning the evils of the world but I assure you, I despise the actions, not the being. The less we confuse the spiritual self with the physical self, the happier we will be and the happier others will be around us. Who you really are can only be found out and experienced by you, and helped along by your auditor.”


Past is Prologue

1996: Time magazine won the case brought by Scientology for the 1991 article, “Scientology: Cult of Greed”. From Reuters: “A federal judge Tuesday dismissed a libel suit brought by the Church of Scientology International against Time Warner, Inc. and its Time Inc. Magazine Co. U.S. District Judge Peter Leisure threw out the case, which alleged that a 10-page article entitled ‘Scientology: The Cult of Greed,’ carried false and defamatory statements. The article was published in 1991 by Time Magazine. Last year the court dismissed part of the case but heard new arguments on a remaining issue. The judge said the article also criticized the church on other subjects including the validity of its belief system, the harmfulness of its methods of counseling and its tactics of combating critics. ‘These statements were either not challenged by plaintiff or were held to be nonactionable by the Court on the grounds that no reasonable jury could find that they were published with actual malice,’ the judge wrote. Scientology cloaked its loss with claims that they welcome the decision, as it allows them to appeal the entire decision. ‘We are astonished by this outcome, but its really a blessing in disguise,’ said the Reverend Heber C Jentzsch, President of the Church of Scientology International. ‘It will give the Court of Appeals the opportunity to impose order on the chaos created by the District Court’s dismissal rulings. We have every confidence that the Appeals Court will see things our way. They won’t let a decision stand that makes bias a defense to defamation and we will be able to proceed to trial to prove that this story was not only malicious, but was a paid-for attack on the Church, a charge that Time has never refuted.'”



Random Howdy

“In Hubbard’s own words the Church of Scientology is an anti-democratic organization whose stated goal is world domination. The German government has deemed Scientology a totalitarian orientated group and has decided that Scientologists are ineligible to hold certain government jobs. I believe this is a very wise decision on their part.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Found guilty on two counts on May 31, remanded to custody. Sentencing on Aug 4.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Trial scheduled for August 15.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Forced to arbitration. Plaintiffs allowed interlocutory appeal to Eleventh Circuit.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’
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 sentencing of Masterson on Aug 4.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Next hearing August 1.
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] How it went down: Transcript of Judge Olmedo denying Danny Masterson’s motion to dismiss
[TWO years ago] Scientology’s full report on its ‘All-Ideal USA’ blowout! It’s a fundraising juggernaut!
[THREE years ago] ‘Scientology’s Hogwarts’ and other schools got PPP loans
[FOUR years ago] Scientology and the FDA: The conspiracy that never was
[FIVE years ago] Scientology hip-hop continues to amaze us, and we hope it transports you as well
[SIX years ago] How Humira, the world’s best selling drug, is helping to finance Scientology into the future
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s caretaker and friend, Steve ‘Sarge’ Pfauth, 1945-2016
[EIGHT years ago] The story of Brian Sheen and his ‘disconnected’ Scientology daughter you haven’t heard
[NINE years ago] Ken Dandar could use a cool million in his fight against Scientology
[TEN years ago] Mike Rinder: Is the Leah Remini Anonymous Smear Website Coming Soon?
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology Relents: Will Hold a Memorial for Son of Church President, Mother Not Invited
[TWELVE years ago] Listen: A Scientologist’s Anthem to the “Galactic Patrol”


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 3,087 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,602 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,152 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,142 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,023 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,327 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,198 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,303 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,750 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,092 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,658 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,577 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,744 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,326 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,587 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,623 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,339 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,903 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,218 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,393 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,944 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,075 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,413 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,268 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,387 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,743 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,046 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,152 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,550 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,426 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,009 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,504 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,758 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,867 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 11, 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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