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LIVE: Meghann Cuniff’s reporting sizzled and her photos from Masterson trial were iconic

One of the reporters we got to know well as we covered Danny Masterson’s two criminal trials was Meghann Cuniff, an independent journalist who writes for her own Substack and was one of the hardest working people we saw at the courthouse.

Not only has her coverage been spot-on, but she managed to find the time to position herself outside the courthouse to snag some of the most iconic photos from the trials, none less so than when she somehow convinced Masterson and his wife Bijou Phillips to stop and pose for her.

She had another full day at the sentencing hearing yesterday, and she wanted to talk to us about it. So we’re going live at 2 pm Eastern, 11 am Pacific (and 7 pm London time) to talk about this case that has taken up so much of our working hours.




Technology Cocktail

“The problem of South Africa is different than the world thinks. There is no native problem. The native worker gets more than white workers do in England! Russia wants South African diamonds and gold, oil and uranium. Russia starts trouble here whenever she can. The South African government is not a police state. It’s easier on people than the United States government!” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1960



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 [43] Tory Christman [44] Kate Bornstein [45] Christian Stolte [46] Mark Bunker [47] Jon Atack [48] Luke Y. Thompson [49] Mark Ebner [50] Bruce Hines [51] Spanky Taylor and Karen Pressley [51] Geoff and Robbie Levin [52] Sands Hall [53] Jonny Jacobsen [54] Sandy Holeman


Source Code

“The amoeba and the monocell and the cellular form is apparently an endowed thing. OT comes along and says, ‘Let there be chicken,’ you know. That’s about where all that fit. And he endows this and he leaves a sort of a puddle of theta to continue to animate it, you see. Does a few quick tricks with the — you can’t say ‘fingers’ — and you get an endowment. And that apparently is the way which you get cells. That isn’t factual, from a standpoint of experience or anything like that. I don’t mean that there’s data available here by which we’ve suddenly animated matter. But it more or less is a conceptual basis on which bodies are built. And somebody mocks it up and somebody else can keep it running. But there is something to this old gag of, they say, they go out and say hello to the flowers, you know, and they grow better. Well, at a very, very low state that would not be possible, of course. A person isn’t able to reach that far. But they sort of have a dim idea that they could do it, you see. Because way, way back someplace they probably did. So they go out and say hello to the flowers.” — L. Ron Hubbard, September 8, 1966


Avast, Ye Mateys

“THE PILL: After considerable data on the subject, any bad effects from a birth control pill are handled by changing BRANDS or STRENGTHS (amounts) and with these handled there should be no trouble with dizziness or auditing, according to data from the M.O. Therefore, please note there is NO restriction on taking such pills except to report any odd effects to the MO. The previous MO, whose data was taken, did not do enough research on it. As trouble has been caused by this, it should be broadly known that there is now no restrictions on birth control pills.” — The Commodore, September 8, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“My feeling is that the strongest beings in this galactic cluster are OTs who were implanted by technologically advanced but more aberrated and weaker beings and sent here. It makes sense to me that this would be the easiest place to introduce Scientology and that the task elsewhere will be much harder.”



Past is Prologue

1999: Court files in a criminal case against Scientologists in Marseilles have been destroyed, leading to speculation that Scientology was involved in the operation. From the Associated Press: “France’s Justice Ministry opened an investigation Wednesday into the destruction of evidence against the Church of Scientology in a Marseilles court. ‘I will shed light on this malfunction,’ said Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou. ‘It’s serious that this evidence has disappeared.’ Marseilles court officials alerted the Justice Ministry to the removal of more than three tons of evidence in August, saying the destruction appeared to be accidental. The Marseilles prosecutor’s office said in a statement that the disposal of certain sealed files was a result of ‘negligence’ by a court clerk and not an intentional act. The documents relate to an investigation opened in 1990 against regional Scientology leaders in the southern coastal cities of Marseilles and Nice for alleged fraud and illegal practice of medicine. Seven of those leaders are scheduled to go on trial Sept. 20. The destruction of the evidence will not delay the trial, the officials said. According to a lawyer representing the plaintiff, a former Scientologist, the evidence destroyed includes financial statements, notes concerning Scientology
members and apparatus known as ‘electrometers,’ designed to measure ‘self-control.'”


Random Howdy

“The conspiracy cult is way scarier and more dangerous than any religious cult. The country is on the verge of a civil war thanks to these cynical manipulators and their feeble-minded, heavily-armed adherents. Alex Jones and the rest should be deported for insurrection.”


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 Sep 7.

‘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:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Complaint filed August 2, first hearing set for Dec 4.
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 Sep 7. Next hearing set for Sept 26.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Next hearing Nov 6.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Ordered to mediation.



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] Don’t allow Paul Haggis to mention Scientology in trial, woman suing him asks court
[TWO years ago] Anne Archer is still pitching her Scientology front group ‘Artists for Human Rights’
[THREE years ago] All of former Scientology mouthpiece Tommy Davis’s appearances in ‘Melania and Me’
[FOUR years ago] Hurricane Dorian’s destruction provides Scientology another chance at make-believe
[FIVE years ago] New Scientology escape book ‘Perfectly Clear’ leaves some important questions unanswered
[SIX years ago] ‘Leah Remini’ show prompting more ‘ranch kids’ to come forward with agonizing family drama
[SEVEN years ago] Drone footage of Scientology’s secretive Int Base: The reaction from former base employees
[EIGHT years ago] More proof (from Scientology) that it’s never been a better time to be a Scientologist!
[NINE years ago] Lyman Spurlock, 1945-2014: Imprisoned and abused, a loyal Scientology executive to the end
[TEN years ago] The 1979 Clearwater Sun Editorial the Tampa Bay Times Should Run Today
[TWELVE years ago] A Scientology Countdown Announcement: Before We Start the Top Ten, a Programming Note


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 3,146 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,661 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,211 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,201 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,082 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,386 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,257 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,362 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,809 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,151 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,717 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,636 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,803 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,385 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,646 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,682 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,398 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,962 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,277 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,452 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,003 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,134 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,472 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,327 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,446 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,802 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,105 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,211 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,609 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,485 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,050 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,563 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,817 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,926 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 8, 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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