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The Underground Bunker’s 2023 Scientology year-in-review starts today!

A very happy winter solstice to our northern hemisphere readers, and to our antipodean friends, enjoy your summer! Once again it’s time to take stock of the year just past with our annual review, and there’s no doubt about it, this year really delivered!

A second criminal trial for Danny Masterson resulted in a conviction, and he’s been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison. And throughout the process, Scientology and its miserable policies of blaming victims really took a beating.

On the civil side, however, Scientology once again has befuddled American judges, and we go into 2024 with new lawsuits and more opportunities for the courts to wake up.

David Miscavige, meanwhile, finished the year by resurrecting the IAS gala in England and the New Year’s event in Los Angeles. So, no doubt from the church’s perspective, it’s been a banner year.


As usual, we covered a lot of different topics in the world of Scientology this year, and as is our custom, we’ll be reviewing a different month each day until December 31 when we wrap up our look back at November and December. At that point we’ll also reveal our picks for our favorite 20 stories of the year.

Of course, we won’t stop reporting the news over the next ten days, but we hope you enjoy our look through the archives. So here we go. First up, the stories of January 2023…


We started off the new year with a new project we called Group Therapy. Each week, we discuss the latest Scientology news with some of our favorite Underground Bunker denizens, and send it out to our subscribers to thank them for supporting the work we do here.

We said goodbye to Jerry Whitfield, who, with his wife Hana, had helped so many people leave Scientology and recover from its mind-warping indoctrination. He was 77.

Danny Masterson, hoping to get out of a second trial after his first criminal trial ended in a hung jury, moved to have charges thrown out, in part based on the interview we had done of the first jury’s foreman. It didn’t work.

In our podcast, Karen de la Carriere told us that her former husband, Scientology’s longtime nominal president and mouthpiece, Heber Jentzsch, is now in a nursing home somewhere. We still haven’t located him, however.

On January 10, Danny Masterson learned that the District Attorney planned to retry him in a second criminal trial, and we were in the courtroom. We immediately felt for the women, who would have to testify and go through cross-examination all over again.

Then, just two days later, the devastating news that Lisa Marie Presley had died. She had been willing to testify in Masterson’s initial criminal trial about how Scientology had asked her to dissuade Jane Doe 1 from going to the LAPD, but Judge Charlaine Olmedo had not allowed it. With Judge Olmedo allowing in more Scientology evidence in the second trial, would she have also changed her mind about Lisa Marie’s testimony? Sadly, we’ll never know.

At our podcast, we made public for the first time a recording of an interview we did with Ron Miscavige before he died about his daughter-in-law, Shelly Miscavige.

Meanwhile, in Florida, David Miscavige’s attorneys were turning themselves into pretzels trying to argue why the church leader shouldn’t be included in a labor trafficking lawsuit there, and Mark Bunker provided us an eyewitness account of it.

We always enjoy hearing from film reviewer Luke Y. Thompson, and in January we asked him what were the odds that Tom Cruise would get to take home an Oscar as a producer on Top Gun: Maverick.

And then on January 30, one of our biggest stories of the year: We revealed that in 2015 we had talked at length with Lisa Marie Presley about her involvement in Scientology, about her marriage to Michael Jackson, and so much more. She described in minute detail the battle she had gone through with David Miscavige and his sisters when she left Scientology for good in October 2014, and that she had definitely taken her mother Priscilla and her daughter Riley out with her. She was so fun to talk to, and what she had to say about Miscavige was simply amazing.

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2022: More proof of the “Chase Wave,” including a check. A bizarre Mannequin Challenge, filmed by members of the Miscavige family. Danny Masterson’s new lawyers were sending out aggressive process servers. We noted the passing of a journalist who had been outed as a paid agent for Scientology. An appellate court overturned a lower court ruling restoring the civil lawsuit filed by Danny Masterson’s accusers.


A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2021: The Whales getting Scientology through the pandemic. We start up The Lowdown, a place to discuss politics. Never-before-seen photos of a celebrity-soaked mission opening. Danny Masterson pleads not guilty to rape charges and his case is assigned to Judge Charlaine Olmedo. Chris Owen goes deep on Scientology in Russia (part 1, part 2, part 3).

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2020: Scientology arch spy Henning Heldt died, and we looked back at his infamous career. Sonya Bianchi, the original ‘Clear,’ died at 92. Brian Statler’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit over his fatal shooting by Inglewood police. Cedric Bixler-Zavala accused Scientology of poisoning his dog. Judge Richard Burdge granted Scientology’s motion to force Valerie Haney’s lawsuit into “religious arbitration.”

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2019: Leah Remini’s ‘Aftermath’ series featured episodes on Paul Burkhart and Bert Schippers, Heather Ruggieri and Carol Nyburg, and a two-parter on the city of Clearwater. Scientology tried to pin a frightening stabbing death at the Advanced Org in Sydney on Leah. A new Advanced Org opened in South Africa. And Chris Shelton interviewed a new defector, Bree Mood, who said that Sea Org women are still being forced to get abortions.

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2018: Chris Owen delivered on the mysteries of L. Ron Hubbard and his parents. We printed revelations about Joy Villa from her ex-boyfriend and her ex-manager. We weighed in on Xenu or Xemu. Katrina Reyes finally got to tell her story of disconnection. Former Scientology spy Cierra Westerman came forward.

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2017: Brandon Reisdorf was featured on Aftermath. The LAPD snubbed Leah Remini. Marc Headley revealed that he was “bedsheet Jesus.” Billionaire Scientologist Trish Duggan made the scene at Trump’s inaugural. And Bernie Headley inspired us to start our ‘disconnected’ list.

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2016: A local police chief gets played by Scientology, but later thinks better of it. Researcher R.M. Seibert gets the lowdown on how Scientology is using ‘religious’ visas to bring in foreign workers. Karen de la Carriere gets a nasty letter from a Scientology attorney.

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2015: Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, and we were there. Scientology had taken out full-page ads in major newspapers attacking Gibney before the film debuted. And it made predictable attacks afterwards. And in a new release of old documents, John McMaster, the world’s first true “Clear,” revealed that L. Ron Hubbard expected to come back as his daughter Diana’s child.

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2014: We posted the Tommy Davis deposition from the Monique Rathbun lawsuit. Scientology’s own attorney discussed David Miscavige’s “black heart” in open court. Barbara Cordova Oliver went missing. Jefferson Hawkins wrapped up his series on Scientology “ethics.”

A LOOK BACK AT JANUARY 2013: Lawrence Wright’s epic book Going Clear debuted, as did John Sweeney’s book, Luis and Rocio Garcia filed their federal fraud lawsuit, and Atlantic magazine screwed up big time.


Technology Cocktail

“An assist is different from auditing as such in that it lacks any model session. Assists are normally short periods of auditing but not always. I have seen a touch assist go on for months at the rate of 15 minutes a day, two or three days a week. And it may take hours to do a touch assist on an accident victim. What characterizes an assist is that it is done rapidly and informally and anywhere.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1964




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

“Once in a while you’ll send a preclear up to the moon, and Earth and sun, you know, doing a Grand Tour, and you get a fascinating reaction from him if he is really on the ball. There’s a space station on the back of the moon — that’s space station 33 — and it has corridors and observatory domes and a lot of other things, a lot of odds and ends. But these corridors are on different levels. So that we have a hallway, you see, a corridor, and then we have one which is maybe 12 or 15 feet above the level. You see, the next level. So we’d go down this corridor, and then we’d have to go up 12 or 15 feet to go down to the next corridor. And they’ll take a look at this and they will see that there is nothing but sheer wall face between this lower corridor and the upper corridor floor — 15 foot sheer drop between these two corridors. And they will say, ‘Something is wrong here. There are no stairs. I don’t know what I’m doing here, or what’s going on, but this place is kind of funny. There are no stairs here.’ Why should there be any stairs where gravity is so slight?” — L. Ron Hubbard, December 21, 1954


Avast, Ye Mateys

“CHRISTMAS: I trust you like the place chosen for Christmas. Sure looks like a Christmas tree. It began by the pilots Out-PROing us. Remember that the pilots are not the rest of the harbour people and have their own set up. They sent us a lovely card, welcoming ‘the world’s largest yacht and its fantastic crew.’ Visit to port authorities went great. Plan to keep it very cool.” — The Commodore, December 21, 1969


Overheard in the FreeZone

“The Universe is a ‘natural’ Matrix — planet Earth is stuck in a distortion of this field as an artificial matrix — mass black magick rituals (wars, etc.) and faked realities and information fuel this matrix and produce peculiar inversions to shield these evil beings from discovery and the consequences of Natural Law (spiritual karma) — military and police are used as their ‘human shields’ — group agreement makes this a ‘hell on Earth.’ The tilting of planet Earth caused mankind to forage for meat to avoid starvation and set in motion the cycle of violence that we are still stuck in.”


Past is Prologue

1998: An editorial in the UK newspaper The Guardian urged support for Scientology and other cults in Germany. “Freedom of belief is second only to freedom of speech in the Declaration, but in the secular West, people of minority faiths – most prominently, muslims – passionately argue that it is in this area, that Western liberalism reveals its own blind intolerance. How many human rights experts have been prepared to champion the Scientologists’ struggle in Germany, where they are discriminated against in jobs, hiring public buildings, conducting their businesses and banned from political parties. What is a cult to one man is a peaceful search for utopia to the next. In the hysterical panic which swept through Francophone Europe in the wake of the Solar Temple in 1994, freedom of belief has been an easy sacrifice

in several liberal democracies. There is no shortage of anti-cult groups happy to supply allegations. When politicians seize the opportunity of some cheap credit, a cycle of misinformation and harassment prompts persecution complexes which can turn a movement into a paranoid cult.”


Random Howdy

“Chinese food, Mexican food, good fish’n’chips and the occasional great hamburger and potatoes are all I need to live.”


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. Sentenced to 30 years to life 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. Next pretrial hearing January 29, 2024.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Complaint filed August 2, motion to strike/anti-SLAPP motions by Scientology to be heard January 9, 2024.
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: Discovery phase.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Scientology moves for religious arbitration.
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] Richie Acunto, Scientology donor and ‘Survival Insurance’ mogul, dead at 70
[TWO years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2021 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[THREE years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2020 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[FOUR years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2019 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[FIVE years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2018 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[SIX years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2017 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[SEVEN years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2016 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[EIGHT years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2015 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[NINE years ago] The Underground Bunker’s 2014 Scientology year-in-review starts today!
[TEN years ago] Jon Atack: For Scientologists, thinking outside the church can feel like breaking a taboo
[ELEVEN years ago] VIDEO: Tiziano Lugli’s “Shit Scientologists Say,” Featuring Prominent Ex-Church Members


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 3,250 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,765 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,315 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,305 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,186 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,490 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,361 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,913 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,255 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,821 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,740 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,908 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,489 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,750 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,786 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,502 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 3,066 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,381 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,556 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,107 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,238 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,576 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,431 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,550 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,906 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,209 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,315 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,713 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,589 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,154 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,667 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,921 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 15,030 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on December 21, 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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