Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Scientology’s legacy: A look back from a remarkable new perspective

Val Ross, we can say now, has been a big help to the Underground Bunker for several years. So when she sent us this remembrance of her Scientology past, we didn’t hesitate to show it to you. We think you’ll be as impressed by it as we are.

I was raised in a small town by parents who had small town values, although they had both moved there from large cities and were college educated. My father, a Radiological Engineer, was recruited in 1955 by Anaconda during the uranium boom, and we went because my Uncle Vern had been at the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos since 1946. So we had family close by.

We lived off Route 66 in the middle of New Mexico between the Navajo and Laguna-Acoma reservations. Cars would break down and our house was the first house people could get to when they got off the road. It was not uncommon for me to wake up to strangers sleeping in our living room. Some of them stayed in our home for days or weeks while their vehicles were repaired and they went on their way.

I got to go out and lie on the grass in the early morning hours and name constellations with my father. I learned how to bake bread with my mother and I spent most of my childhood running barefoot and free around the small neighborhood with my two best friends where all the neighbors kept our parents informed of where we had last been seen.


My parents instilled important values in me. They taught me that I was lucky to be living the life I had and that some others living where we did didn’t have it as good as me. My father was colorblind, so he could not see color, but it wouldn’t have made a difference because my mother was not colorblind yet didn’t make color distinctions. It wasn’t until I had moved away from home and was attending college that one of my roommates pointed out that I had grown up a white person among mostly dark- skinned people. I was just one of the people living there.

Some of the oft-repeated phrases from my childhood were:
• A place for everything and everything in its place
• Bloom where you’re planted
• Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
• There’s no limit to the amount of good you can do as long as you don’t care who gets the credit

I found great joy in the simple life I lived there and watching and helping my parents help others without expecting anything in return.

Then I left there, went away to college and then got into Scientology in the early 1970s. I was what would be considered a very good Scientologist. By this I mean I bought the whole con hook, line, and sinker. I was in Salt Lake City when I was body-routed into the then Salt Lake Mission. The man, Steve, who body routed me is still in, sadly.

We actually became very close, and started a “2D” as soon as I graduated from the Comm Course, as it was called back then. I was so excited to help Scientology save the world. I wanted all the auditor training I could get and started racing up the training side of the Bridge. I made Class IV auditor in a period of a few months, because any spare moment I had, I spent at the Mission. I was well employed and had enough money to keep buying the next course, and, of course, my 2D was on staff, so I didn’t have anything to do after work except come into the Mission.

While I was interning CL IV, Jack Dirmann and his team came on a Sea Org recruiting mission. I immediately signed up, much to the surprise of Steve, my boyfriend. He was actually quite appalled. I was so excited I didn’t even think what my leaving would do to him. I was still naïve and we still hadn’t “gone all the way” so I really didn’t have any reason to stay.

I left for Albuquerque for a couple of months where I did some more training and worked a job making jewelry while getting my dental work done that I needed before entering Sea Org.

Then I jumped into the Sea Org with both feet. I arrived at the airport, alone and not sure where I was going. I was picked up by a staff member who dropped me off at the Hollywood Inn (now the Hollywood Guaranty Building) where all Sea Org members were berthed.

I was dropped in the lobby and left. There was no room for me. I had to wait in the lobby while they figured out where I would go. Luckily for me, Dick Glass, The Eloquent Elephant was there playing piano and singing. I sat down by him and we played some duets and sang while I waited the several hours for a place to stay. It was about 10:00 p.m. before I had a room.

The berthing at Hollywood Inn was abysmal. We slept in small rooms with several bunks stacked up to the ceiling. I learned then to label everything I owned, because no one had anything and there were some people with sticky fingers who helped themselves to your belongings.


I look back at the letters I wrote my mom and dad during that time (she saved them all for me) and I was grateful to her for small things like warm foot socks for sleeping since we had very thin bedding and the boiler was broken most of the time so there was no heat. Back in the early 70s there were no staff uniforms, no EPF, not a lot of “onboarding.” One day you’re public, the next day you’re Sea Org. The rules were more relaxed as far as dating, marriage, etc. For example, “Lt. Cmdr.” Irene Howey (now Dirmann) was the CO of ASHO D and “PO3” Jack Dirmann was the HCO Area Sec. They lived “in sin” in a house with six other executives before “Reverend” Yvonne Jentzsch performed a marriage ceremony for them in April, 1976.

I was put onto my Staff Statuses immediately and finished up on them, my OEC, FEBC and Course Supervisor and Senior Course Supervisor hats and then became a course supervisor for the ASHO Briefing Course at ASHO Day.

This was back when the Briefing Course was booming. People would be there early to get a tape recorder so they could get through the “wall of tapes,” and there was never an empty chair in the room, some people went out in the hall, so I was kept very busy. This was back in the day when staff was freer to fraternize with students. There were nights after I got off course when we would all go out for coffee and then one of the students would drive me back to my berthing. I still have a very dear friend I communicate with who I supervised on the briefing course.

Mimi Spickler (now Rogers) was my Intern Supervisor and was not even Sea Org, that’s how lax things were. Because of who I was and my associations, I spent a lot of time with Heber and Yvonne Jentzsch, which helped me later in my Scientology career.

There was a dark underbelly, as there usually seems to be in Scientology, and there was a high ranking man there who did things to me that I won’t go into here. When I reported him, he was the one who was “kha khan” so he was the one who got away scot free and I got punished. However, because I knew Heber and Yvonne, my punishment was not real, it was just for show…sort of.

I did not even know what people were told when I left ASHO and the Briefing Course, it wasn’t until about 35 years later when I heard what went down from their perspective.

Mark “Warrior” Plummer was in Finance at the time. He was a good buddy of mine. A group of us would walk down Hollywood Blvd. singing at the top of our lungs on our day off with our duffel bags to go to the laundromat. Mark actually kept a copy of my “SP Declare.” I didn’t ever see it, and did courses, got auditing, and made it all the way to OT V after leaving ASHO, so yeah.

I was rushed out of the Org after dark and sent to live in the 1811 Tamarind Apartments across the street from the Manor – the apartments are now staff berthing and the Manor is now Celebrity Center LA. At the time Guardian Office US was housed in the basement of the Manor. I first had a studio apartment in Tamarind then I got a 3rd floor apartment after I got married.

I had become a GO Operative overnight. However, my students were told I had been “beached” – kicked out of Sea Org. Mark Plummer said my SP Declare was the strangest thing he had ever read. Apparently they were told I was having sex with my students to get student points up. The only sex I had had in my life up to that point was the man in Sea Org who was doing things to me against my will, so there’s that.

Anyway, one of my students, the dear man I’m still friends with, looked for me after he heard that. He knew it wasn’t true and he wanted to find me and offer me a place to stay.

I will always remember that kindness of him.

I was thrown directly into B1 under Diana and Mary Sue Hubbard at the GO. That was really a step up from Sea Org! It was really an odd halfway house because anyone who knew of me before did not know I had anything to do with Scientology. My then husband, who I married because “the doctor told us we were in love,” was also a GO member, but I didn’t know that until 1983. I married him in 1977.

I was trained on an IBM Mag Card ii Typewriter and got a temporary position in the FBI Building in downtown LA through SOS. I was pregnant with my first child at the time. I would take things out of FBI filing cabinets and put them on my desk, when I had to go to the copy machine, I would copy the documents I had been told to copy, then I would put them back where I got them.

On July 8, 1977, I had a doctor’s appointment for my pregnancy, so had the day off work, we were in our apartment when my husband’s brother called him to see if he had heard about the raid. (His brother lived in Big Blue at the time). I grabbed my trusty Minolta and went and stood on the balcony across the street from the Manor and took photos as the raid was going down.


I left my position at the FBI for maternity leave in mid-November 1977, with them being none the wiser. It was about 30 years later that I went to them and told them my part in it. They were unimpressed. I was a teeny cog in a huge deal operation. For some reason, Scientology convinces you that you are invincible. I actually picketed the FBI after I worked there and after I stole info from them. The photo is me with my daughter in her carrier. The sign says “FBI Says Today Scientology, Tomorrow The World”.

About that time, I was offered an out from the Guardian’s Office and took it. My husband and I moved back to Salt Lake City. After a tumultuous marriage and the birth of our son in 1980, we divorced in early 1983 after the police arrested him at the hospital when I was taken there by ambulance due to him beating me nearly to death. In 1983, I stopped taking any calls from anyone who had anything to do with Scientology, moved to a new home with my children, and basically went into hiding and denial that I had ever been in Scientology until 2011.

For some reason, which I have yet to figure out, Scientology had managed for several years to overwrite the quiet, honest wisdom of my parents with phrases like:
• They pulled it in
• Greatest good for the greatest number
• Never fear to hurt another in a just cause

I was trained to lie and taught that lying was a good thing because it was helping Scientology. I was trained that it was OK to not help people because they didn’t deserve it because they were “downstat.”

I believed I was better than everyone because that’s what Scientologists were trained to believe. I thought I had the wool pulled over everyone’s eyes and because I was so smart and everyone who didn’t have the Scientology training and processing I had could not possibly understand, I could do what I did and they just wouldn’t get it.

I was lucky enough to escape before my parents died. I had not attended my grandmother’s funeral when I was in GO “because I couldn’t make it”. That is something I wish I had a do-over on.

When my parents died, I was in my 20s. My mom didn’t make it to age 50. She died of a stroke on my birthday in January 1983. My dad died 16 months later.

My mother and my father always went out of their way to make sure I knew they loved me. I got care packages from my mother non-stop. Although she died on my birthday, a package had arrived from her at my home the day she died. She was buried on my brother’s birthday. When we went to their home to prepare for the funeral, his birthday package was ready to go. It always included, even our favorite cereal. I tell you this so you understand that I was not estranged from my parents, nor did they ever complain about my life choices.

The day after my father’s funeral, my four siblings and I gathered at my parents home to clear it out, and get it ready for sale as we had all moved to different parts of the world.

One of the items we found was a box of Jello my daughter had bought for my mom when we were shopping. I had written a note to my mom that my 2-year-old daughter said “grandma needs this so we need to send it to her.” She had put the note on the box of Jello and kept both together. My daughter was 6 when my mom died. My daughter will be 47 this year. She still has that box of Jello and that note.

Because my parents never said to my face that they thought I was doing something I shouldn’t, I thought I had the wool pulled over their eyes. Then I found my mother’s

journal. I was skimming through it and came across an entry about my time in the GO.

My mother had written down what I had said to her then put this comment: “I just wish she wouldn’t lie so much.” I couldn’t breathe.

That, Scientology, is your legacy: I just wish you wouldn’t lie so much.

— Valerie Ross


Technology Cocktail

“Scientology is the most vital movement on Earth today. In a turbulent world, the job is not easy. But then, if it were, we wouldn’t have to be doing it. We respect Man and believe he is worthy of help. We respect you and believe you, too, can help. Scientology does not owe its help. We have done nothing to cause us to propitiate. Had we done so, we would not now be bright enough to do what we are doing.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1965



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

“This is what? [Audience: 17th.] The what? [17th.] Of what month? [January.] 17th of January. What year? [AD 12.] AD 12. And where are we? [Saint Hill.] Huh? [Saint Hill.] Yeah, I know, but what planet? [Earth.] Earth. OK. Thank you very much. All right. Thank you very much for orienting me. I’ve been flying about here and haven’t had much time to look up.” — L. Ron Hubbard, January 17, 1962


Avast, Ye Mateys


“The ship is doing much better and starting to pull up its socks. Therefore the general condition is raised to EMERGENCY…When the ship was injured against the dock it is interesting that the 1st Mate had been goofed up in Qual previously. These names are then associated with the decline of the ship condition by being in charge of the areas: DIANE McDONALD, OTTO ROOS, PHIL QUIRINO, NATE JESSUP, BILL HOWEY, through to greater or lesser degree neglect of duty…When we didn’t push the real targets, the ship wound up on my plate and the crew got caught in the resulting storm. Certain VITAL actions had to be COMPLETED before we could operate or sail. Lots of small actions were done but the big ones got no heavy push and so left us actually inoperational. We are now doing much better and the new mate line up is functioning very well especially with 2nd Deputy Captain Eltringham on the job!” — The Commodore (1969)


Overheard in the FreeZone

“The ideal whistleblower would be one that discloses corruption or wrongdoing without ideas of making nothing out of Scientology. Or one that offers reform. The bad whistleblower would be that one who discloses corruption or wrongdoing with the intent of making nothing out of Scientology to benefit the status quo corruption or wrongdoing of the secret government.”


Past is Prologue

1998: Skeptic Magazine published a letter from Scientology president Heber Jentzsch, in reply to an earlier letter from comedian Steve Allen. “You make several different claims of harassment and telephone threats and ‘similar offenses’ that are continuing to be perpetuated by individual Scientologists. If you have any such instances which are documented, then send them to me. And speaking of harassment, Cynthia Kisser attempted to silence me & the church regarding her perpetration of violent deprogrammings. The fact that she deprogrammed her own sister and then went on to conduct other assaults has been proved to be true by the Federal Court in Chicago, Illinois, supported by the verdict of a jury. I have admired your humor and your humanitarian goals since I first came here to California 35 years ago. I would hope that you would continue your wit and your talents to the enhancement of freedom of choice, not to be drawn into the melee of anti-religious bigotry by those who claim no religion is qualified or sacred.”


Random Howdy

“From what I’ve seen and read, status is very competitive and important in public Scientology. Except, instead of cars and homes and jewelry it’s Monty Python Roman titles, bowling trophies and dime store certificates.”



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] Shelly Miscavige and her beagles: A Group Therapy podcast extra
[TWO years ago] You recruited people to Scientology: After you’re out, how do you deal with the regret?
[THREE years ago] Portlanders, did you receive Scientology’s love letter?
[FOUR years ago] VALERIE HANEY’S OPPOSITION TO ARBITRATION: A strong no to Scientology’s legal gambit
[FIVE years ago] Danny Masterson’s attorneys pounce on A&E’s plans for resurrecting an ‘Aftermath’ episode
[SIX years ago] The new Freedom magazine is here, and Scientology has never looked better!
[SEVEN years ago] Behold, it’s Scientology Jesus as you’ve never seen him before!
[EIGHT years ago] How Scientology hooks public officials on its addictive anti-drug front
[NINE years ago] L. Ron Hubbard fisticuffs! Scientology secrets unearthed in a new government disclosure
[TEN years ago] ‘The Factors’: Another video the Church of Scientology would rather you not watch
[ELEVEN years ago] Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear: We Don’t Think Scientology Is Going to Like This Book Much


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Tammy Synovec has not seen her daughter Julia in 2,782 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,277 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,792 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,342 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,332 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,213 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,517 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,388 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,940 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,282 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,848 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,767 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,935 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,516 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,777 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,813 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,529 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 3,093 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,408 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,583 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,134 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,265 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,603 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,458 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,577 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,933 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,236 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,342 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,740 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,616 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,181 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,694 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,948 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 15,057 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 17, 2024 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email