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Mick Wenlock, 1953-2023: A Scientology escapee who helped others recover their dignity

[Mick and Nancy at their wedding, 1978]

TODAY AT SUBSTACK: If you’ve signed up for free emails at Substack, you will receive today’s feature story at your inbox: Mick Wenlock died last week at the age of 70. We admired him for starting one of the early online meeting places for former Scientology Sea Org escapees. []


He helped launch Scientology’s cruise ship, and later was cast aside by the church

[Bill Straass]

Recently I got word that my good buddy Bill Straass had passed []

Sinéad O’Connor and Scientology: How she dodged a Thetan-tipped bullet

[O’Connor on The Graham Norton Show in February, 2012]

Sinéad O’Connor’s death at the age of 56 has produced an outpouring of tributes to her as a transformative artist and political figure, as well as moving portraits of her struggles with mental illness, something she was more open about than most. (See, for example, this superb []

Losing a friend they knew in Scientology: A tribute to a remarkable woman

In the realm of life, there are individuals who leave an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those fortunate enough to cross their paths. Willie and I had the fortune to know one of those individuals. It was one of those rare positive things that came out of our stint in []

Jenny Burpee, former Scientology Sea Orger and Cat White friend who helped find her, dead at 39

 In September and October 2015, we found ourselves at the Underground Bunker scrambling to keep up with a major national story that we’d helped to break: Actor Jim Carrey’s girlfriend, Cathriona “Cat” White, had been found dead of an apparent suicide at 30. We were the first to add the detail that Cat, an immigrant []

Remembering Dan Sherman, Scientology’s bad biographer and worse speechwriter

 One thing that’s changed over our years of covering Scientology is that we used to get more videos from big events that featured David Miscavige giving []

REPORT: Scientology loses captain of its Florida ‘spiritual mecca,’ a fundraising marvel

A couple of our best sources reached out to us this week to let us know they’ve heard something interesting that is coming out of Scientology’s “spiritual mecca,” the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, []

Simi Valley: Not the town, but one of the Underground Bunker’s most loyal helpers

[Simi Valley, and Simi Valley]

To start out the new year of 2013, we posted one of our favorite stories of all time that morning of January 1: Simi Valley, a woman who had legally changed her name to match that Southern California town, was now not only out of the Church of Scientology, but she []

Richard Belzer, and that time he got us in to see Tom Cruise roast Matt Lauer

[Belzer, center, with Jeff Ross, left, and Jim Carrey honoring Jerry Lewis on his 90th at the Friar’s Club in 2016]

 We were very sad to hear about Richard Belzer’s passing. It was reported that he died in France this week at the age of 78 after some years there dealing with illness.

His last words were []

Jerry Whitfield, longtime Scientology exit counselor, dies at 77

[Hana and Jerry Whitfield]

 We spoke to Hana Whitfield last night, who was still in Miami, where her husband Jerry had died Sunday night after a lengthy illness. She was understandably feeling overwhelmed by everything she and Jerry have been going through, and she plans to return to her Coral Gables home for some rest. But []