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Building a Scientology prison camp meant ducking for cover when planes flew by

[An aerial shot from ‘Missing in Happy Valley’]

“Break time!” These words came to me across the valley with urgency. Then I heard other voices repeating the signal. It was a code. It meant that I should stop what I was doing, drop any tools, and immediately walk, not run, to a place where I would not be visible from the air.

Walking was good. Normally we had to run everywhere, no walking allowed. And the idea of any kind of break was very appealing. In our day-to-day activities, I was secretly hoping I’d hear those words.

Prompting this interlude was a small, single-engine plane, visible in the sky. It wasn’t very close, but we couldn’t take any chances.

What on earth was this all about? Well, you see, I was on the Rehabilitation Project Force. This was a special part of Scientology’s Sea Organization. In it were Sea Org members who had been deemed in need of rehabilitation. They had purportedly failed to live up to the standards of that “elite” group. I’d say a majority of Sea Org members, at least at that time, had been through an RPF program at least once.

The RPF retention camp was located in a place known as “Happy Valley.” It was, in fact, in a valley, surrounded by rugged mountains. It occupied about 500 acres, and had been used for a variety of things during the time Scientology owned it. It was located a couple of miles up a windy road from the town of San Jacinto, California, and roughly 10 miles due west of Mount San Jacinto, which is the big mountain visible to the west from Palm Springs.


Various incarnations of the RPF had been located there, as well as where the children of Sea Org Members who worked at the Int base were stashed to keep them out of the way — it was a kind of faux boarding school where there was no real education and the kids lived a paramilitary life with a lot of manual labor. For a time there was also farming and orchards as part of a “self-sufficiency project” with the idea that produce from there (eggs, lots of various crops, and even pork) could someday feed the workers at the Int base. Some Sea Org workers who had gotten in trouble and even some who had gone into a psychotic episode were put out there in a building called the Campbell House for “handling” (like maybe the infamous “Introspection Rundown”).

Some months earlier, in March 1998, a helicopter had flown over and filmed the property and also the Int base. Parts of the footage were used in a documentary that aired in Germany named “Missing in Happy Valley” (you can find it on YouTube). The subject was a woman named Wiebke Hansen, who had been the Executive Director of the Scientology organization in Hamburg, Germany. After she got in big trouble for reporting false statistics up to international management, reflecting how much money had been taken in and how many services had been delivered, she disappeared. Family and co-workers in Germany didn’t know what had happened to her.

Such a documentary airing about Scientology was a “flap” of epic proportions. It was horrendous PR. So much so that three years later the RPF was disbanded there and some time after that the property was sold. That’s why we RPFers were trained to keep a lookout for anyone who might be filming us from the air and to get out of sight if that were a possibility.

One time, David Miscavige got Tom Cruise’s helicopter pilot to fly over the RPF site. I remember that the helicopter made several passes very low directly overhead. I’m not sure what the purpose of that was. Maybe to intimidate us? Maybe to see how much would be visible from close range? I don’t know if either Cruise or Miscavige were in the helicopter. It happened midday. I had been up all night “on watch” and was lying in bed trying to get a bit of sleep. I secretly hoped that civil authorities were taking action to shut the place down. Alas, that was not to be.

The documentary showed the red trailers and a large green army tent that marked the RPF site, which was located hundreds of yards away from other buildings on the property. It was isolated and out of sight. I have wondered how the documentarians (Peter Reichelt and Ina Brockmann) knew to film that area.

How did that RPF internment camp get there? It started in 1995. At that time there was no RPF located on the Int base nor on the Happy Valley property (generally referred to by the acronym, HV). Wayward Sea Org members were being sent to RPF sites in LA or in Clearwater, Florida, at that time. I was one of the lucky group of twelve people who built that facility at HV. Others in that group included Barret Oliver (child actor), Janadair Hockaday (one of the early Commodore’s Messengers), Pablo Lobato (who had been on the Watchdog Committee), Jean Discher (who had been the head of Scientology Missions International), a guy named Jeff Kretz (who had been at the Church of Spiritual Technology base near the town of Crestline in the mountains above San Bernadino), Wiebke Hansen herself, Francesco Frau (an Italian guy), and some others I am forgetting.

Starting in February of that year, most of us slept in trailers in a secluded area of the Int base, under 24-hour watch by security guards. We had meals in an old greenhouse. For the first few months we worked on projects on the Int base property — like clearing a road that ran along the hills behind the base on the north side. And then getting an irrigation system along that road repaired and running to green up the vegetation that grew along it, which was supposed to create a fire break. We weren’t yet doing the RPF program. We were just forced to do manual labor all day long. There was a lot of digging up weeds and moving large rocks and boulders.

Then, in June I think it was, we started being taken in a van out to Happy Valley, where we created that RPF site out of nothing. Four old, used mobile homes had been purchased and towed to the site at HV. A couple of Int base staff had been put on a special project to move those trailers into their final locations. When we first arrived, there they sat with no electrical power, no water, and no sewage system. They were surrounded by many oak trees of a certain type indigenous to that area.

In our initial briefing out there, we were instructed to say, if by some chance an outsider asked, that were were itinerant workers and those trailers were our living quarters. We were also briefed about the rattlesnakes, tarantulas, scorpions, mountain lions, coyotes, cactus, and poison oak all around us, to discourage us from trying to escape.

For the next few months, the twelve of us worked to make those four trailers inhabitable. One would have showers and a laundry area; one would be for meals and meetings; one would be for sleeping, with three-high bunkbeds packed in; one would be for studying and auditing. First, we built in a culvert (a long metal pipe about five feet in diameter) to channel a stream that ran near the RPF site. Often that stream was dry, but in the rainy season quite a bit of water could flow through it. Then we constructed a bridge by piling a whole lot of dirt over the culvert and tamping it down. Luckily, one of the staff on the special project operated a backhoe to accomplish that. Then cars could drive to the RPF site, as that road was the only way in.

For water, we tapped into a line that ran down from a well to the main part of the HV property. That point was a couple of hundred yards from the trailers. We dug trenches from there to the trailers, again with the benefit of the backhoe. Many large rocks had to be removed. We dug the smaller trenches into the rock-hard desert soil using pickaxes and shovels. Then we ran the pipe that carried the water, gluing together long pieces of PVC. Some of these were heavy, being maybe 8 or 10 inches in diameter.

The electrical and sewage lines were put in similarly. But it was complicated by the fact that building codes required a specific amount of separation between those three types of lines. Somehow after much toil, often in intense desert heat, that pipe and conduit got run and covered up.

We screwed 8 x 10 foot pieces of plywood to the sides of the trailers. Then we painted those bright red, as can be seen in the documentary footage. The idea was to make them the color of old-time school houses. The task of spray painting them red, using an old gasoline-powered sprayer, fell to me. Actually that part was fun.

There was a lot of carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work to do to get everything ready. Finally, after some months, the twelve of us moved into those trailers. As time went on, the RPF grew, and more and more things got built. After about five years, there were about 120 people on that RPF. Hey, I just realized that was 10X expansion!


At long last, we were made to begin our RPF programs, which consisted of a long series of prescribed steps, supposedly leading to being rehabilitated. Generally that took a couple of years or more. We wanted that, though, as it was the only way to get back in the good graces of management. Then we could be with our spouses and friends and co-workers at the Int base again. We would no longer be persona non grata.

However, that was when the real hell began.

— Bruce Hines


Technology Cocktail

“An “engram” sometimes didn’t exist. A pc can be trying to run being run over by a car when he never was. What needs to be done, when the incident won’t run, is get the pc’s incident of running over somebody. It also works in reverse. A pc can be trying to run an engram of running over somebody when he was in fact only run over himself and never did run over anyone.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1967



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 idea of somebody full-armed from the brow of Jove or something like that, coming down and helping man, and so on, that’s an old story. That isn’t even news. But somebody by his own bootstraps, even as you, pulling himself up through this thing, that is news. And whatever you have done and been on the Whole Track, or whatever I have done and been on the Whole Track, it still amounts to the fact that a guy just like you made this. And has made it, and also ‘physician heal thyself,’ has been broken all ways from the middle. Because it never happened before. That’s what’s news. I suppose my bank to a large degree’s been keyed out but over a period of time has been keying in harder and harder and harder and about knocked my head off, and I was working out technology by which you could get Clear, and I hadn’t had any auditing to amount to anything for a couple of years, actually. Mary Sue rolled up her sleeves and there we went and here we are. And this is a very satisfactory, well, I won’t say an end to the story, because the story is a long way from ended. But I will say it’s a very satisfactory denouement on the question, ‘Can one lift himself by his own bootstraps and beat all the laws of God and men in this whole universe from one corner to the other?’ And the answer, of course, is yes.” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 21, 1963


Avast, Ye Mateys

“The UKLO WW SH team, Phyll Stevens, Linda Parselle, Anne Tampion, Darlene Regenas and Margaret Hodkins are leaving today. They have worked hard and done very well. They graduated from the FEBC and attained Grade Clear OT. The Flag Bureaux has totally replanned SH spatially and have re-integrated the successful ’67 pattern. WW is now the UKLO Management Bureau. We wish them very well. The officers and crew have worked very hard completing the entirety of this very extensive project. Now it is up to them to put a UKLO and SH and SH Foundation there and bring SH back to its former glory. Good-bye, god bless, good luck. We wish you well. This is a major completion. A great one.” — The Commodore, February 21, 1971



Overheard in the FreeZone

“I just wanted to say that I really enjoy the ‘Overheard in the Freezone’ daily feature. It is the first time I have seen thoughts similar to mine, thought processes and interests and realities of a ‘post-Scientology’ similar to mine in a very long time. And I feel at home for the first time in years, the first time since I left Scientology. Except that I could not trace those comments to their writers and comment back. I wish I could. Many of them are really interesting, and I’d like to get to know them and discuss ideas. Please keep the feature going, it is really interesting and worthwhile. It shows some very interesting perspectives that augment mine in a thrilling way, which is rare anywhere.”


Past is Prologue

1998: The Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, a weekly newspaper, ran an article on Scientology’s attacks on the cat kennel run by Scientology critics Vaughn and Stacy Young. “Island animal lovers are rallying behind Robert and Stacy Young, days after an anonymous flier alleged the Youngs brought an ‘illegal and diseased’ cat kennel to Vashon. Vashon Island Pet Protectors board member Anne Nanthrup said she has been at the Youngs’ home a couple times and disputes any allegations of mistreatment. ‘I can highly recommend the Youngs as animal lovers,’ Nanthrup said. The flier alleges that the Youngs have between 200 and 300 cats but that a final tally is hard to determine ‘because of all the births and deaths from disease.’ Fair Isle Animal Clinic veterinarian Don Wolczko said the flier seems to be aimed at garnering an emotional reaction. The flier asserts the cats have FIP ‘(Feline Infectious Peritonitis) which is also known as AIDS.’ It goes on to urge anyone with a cat to get themselves and their pet tested. But FIP is a completely different virus than FIV, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, Wolczko said. Furthermore, there has not been a single case of a human contracting HIV or FIV from their cat, he said. The couple say the fliers are part of an ongoing effort by the Church of Scientology to silence their criticism. Both Robert and Stacy Young say they are former members of the church and they continue to be vocal critics. She recently appeared in an episode of 60 Minutes about the church. On Sunday, two teens were handing out the fliers at Thriftway until a store employee told them to stop. He said the young men told him they were paid $10 to hand out the fliers by a man they had never met. Islander Jolene Lamb said she saw a man in his 40s putting fliers on car windshields in downtown Vashon on Sunday. Lamb said she approached him and asked for his name. She said he refused to give her his name but did say he was doing it for his mother and that she also wanted to remain anonymous. ‘If you can’t back it up with your name, it isn’t worth nothing,’ Lamb said she concluded.”


Random Howdy

“Pleasure and pain are what motivates everyone on the most basic level. People do things because they make them feel good, whether it be dope or Scientology. Even after drug addiction becomes destructive, people keep doing it because it’s become their way of life and people fear change (and pain) more than anything.”



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 February 26, 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: motion to file new complaint, hearing on March 20.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Scientology moves for religious arbitration, hearing on March 26.
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] Richard Belzer, and that time he got us in to see Tom Cruise roast Matt Lauer
[TWO years ago] After a court restored the Danny Masterson suit, Scientology is apoplectic with rage
[THREE years ago] Scientology social media: The world’s coolest religion is on fire!
[FOUR years ago] Thanks to some Scientology OTs, you can now rent a cabin only a mile from Shelly Miscavige!
[FIVE years ago] If you thought Scientology’s ‘Axioms’ were dumb, the ‘Logics’ are even dumberer
[SIX years ago] Hubbard’s ‘Brainwashing Manual’ — how a crude Scientology hoax became a far-right touchstone
[SEVEN years ago] As Scientology shrinks, its leader dreams up new ways to convince followers otherwise
[EIGHT years ago] When Scientology was in trouble in 1955, L. Ron Hubbard told prosecutor he was a ‘psychologist’
[NINE years ago] When Scientology was pouring on the ‘religious’ angle very thick: A video mystery
[TEN years ago] Friday’s Scientology internal video: L. Ron Hubbard’s special course in ‘Human Evaluation’!
[ELEVEN years ago] Narconon Staff Certifications in Jeopardy After New Whistleblower Comes Forward


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 2,817 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,312 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,827 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,377 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,367 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,248 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,552 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,423 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,975 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,316 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,883 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,802 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,970 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,551 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,812 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,848 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,564 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 3,128 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,443 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,618 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,169 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,300 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,638 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,493 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,612 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,968 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,271 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,377 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,775 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,651 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,216 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,729 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,983 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 15,092 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 21, 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


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