Leah Remini TV series about how Scientology rips families apart

Discussion in 'Celebrity News' started by The Wrong Guy, Jun 27, 2016.

  1. The Wrong Guy Member

    Shifting gears: Leah Remini talks about tonight’s two-hour special on Jehovah’s Witnesses

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, November 13, 2018


    Tonight, Leah Remini and her co-star Mike Rinder tack into uncharted territory. Before the third season of their Emmy-winning A&E series Scientology and the Aftermath begins in two weeks, they are airing tonight at 6 pm a two-hour special on another subject entirely.

    “The reason why Mike and I did this was because we were asked to. Even as early as Season One we had so many people asking, ‘Will you cover the Jehovah’s Witnesses? They’re very similar.’ It just became too overwhelming to ignore,” Leah told us yesterday.

    “We asked A&E, can we use one of our special episodes to do a show on Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they said yes.”

    Leah grew up in Scientology and spent more than 30 years in it. Her personal familiarity with its arcane ideas is one of the things that gives her show its strength. We asked her if she was concerned about taking on a subject she was less familiar with — an offshoot of Christianity that had grown out of a 19th century doomsday movement that is known in popular culture for knocking on doors and eschewing blood transfusions. How did she approach it?

    “When I sat down with Alex Gibney when he was making Going Clear, I asked him, what’s his film about? He said ‘I don’t know what it’s about until I talk to the people it’s about.’ And that’s how you do a documentary,” Leah answered. “And that’s what Mike and I did. We shut up and listened. Like in Scientology, you have to be in it to truly understand it. So we didn’t do a lot of talking here. We did a lot of listening.”

    And repeatedly, she says, they heard about how similar the two groups were, even though they came from such completely different traditions.

    “The people we talked to, they drew parallels to Scientology. Scientology has disconnection, Jehovah’s Witnesses has shunning, the shunning of parents and children. And it’s not spelled out as clearly as it is in Scientology’s policies, but the Jehovah’s Witnesses also suggest not going to the police. You need two witnesses for rapes — they cite scripture and twist it, using what they want to use. I mean, who has two witnesses to a rape? What child has a witness to being molested? They think they can handle it internally.”

    A $35 million court verdict awarded by a Montana jury in September brought a lot of recent attention to allegations that the organization keeps its members from reporting child abuse to the police.

    “The Jehovah’s Witnesses are ruled by eight men in upstate New York, mainly white, who decide what the rules are and how they’re going to use the Bible to justify whatever they’re sending out to the lower level executives, called Elders, who are in charge of individual congregations. So someone goes to an Elder and says my husband is beating me. Well, you need to pray on it, she’s told.”

    Scientology is a tiny organization that has always lied about its true size, claiming that it has millions of members when today it probably has fewer than 20,000 active members. Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, really do have something like 8 million people. We know how much A&E has been flooded with angry letters from Scientology and its attorneys — how did the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization react to this episode being made?

    “We asked if they would appear on the show or talk to me or Mike or anything, and they just referred me to their website,” Leah says.

    If the organization has not reacted, Leah says she has been hearing from some Jehovah’s Witnesses on social media. “We’re being called apostates, that our careers are in the dumps — but it’s by individual members, not the church itself. They’re offended that we’re likening it to a cult mentality. But they’re attacking something they haven’t even seen yet, just like culty people,” she says. “I’m not saying Jehovah’s Witnesses is a cult per se, but certainly, the behavior being exhibited by Jehovah’s Witnesses is very similar to Scientology — which is a cult. They are very similar to Scientology in how they react to people talking about them in a way they don’t want to be talked about.”

    In her show on Scientology, Leah has been pretty careful to focus on the organization’s practices rather than its beliefs.

    “It’s one thing to have a belief system that gets you through a bad time. But when you have policies that force you to shun your wife or daughter — I don’t think a church should be preaching that families disown each other. And they celebrate parents who allow their children to die,” she says, referring to Jehovah’s Witnesses extreme policies about blood transfusion. “It’s hard for me that anyone would liken that to a Christian organization. But it’s hard to see it when you’re in it. In Scientology, I always thought I was in something that was helping the world. It turned out I was in a cult that was hurting people, and it saddens me.”

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  2. The Wrong Guy Member

    Leah Remini kicks off 3rd season with emotional toll caused by Scientology’s ‘aftermath’

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, November 18, 2018


    Although A&E announced that its series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath begins its third season on November 27, it actually begins tonight at 8 pm Eastern with a “special episode” the network apparently doesn’t count as the series itself.

    Yes, once again A&E’s confusing way of counting some episodes and not others continues into a new season, but whatever, all that really matters is that the show has its focus back on Scientology after a two-hour detour into the Jehovah’s Witnesses last week.

    In tonight’s special, Leah Remini and Mike Rinder sit down with members of their own families to talk about how leaving Scientology has taken a toll on all of them. Leah has her mother Vicki Marshall back — Vicki made a terrific appearance in an episode last season when she and Leah revealed the contents of Scientology’s super-secret “OT 8” upper teachings. We found it absolutely stunning.

    And in this episode, Vicki admits that she’s still struggling with having walked away from something that took up so many years of her life — she still finds herself caught in Scientology thinking, and she wants to break out of it.

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  3. The Wrong Guy Member

    As Leah Remini returns for a third round, here’s Scientology’s side of the story

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, November 22, 2018


    Two years ago this month, Leah Remini premiered her A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath. And before she did, knowing what a major impact it was going to have, we decided to give the Church of Scientology its chance to make its own case first.

    We featured a documentary about Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard that was narrated by Scientology’s current leader, David Miscavige. Now, two years later, Leah is about to kick off her third season in earnest (after a special episode, anyway), and once again we thought it would be a good idea to let Scientology give its best shot at counterprogramming in the meantime.

    So what we have for you today is about as good as it gets for Scientology these days. It’s a young up-and-coming celebrity, pianist Stephen Ridley, announcing to his fans that for the last four years he’s secretly been involved in the church. For his coming out, he’s made a sort of Scientology advertisement — filmed, he says, by his friend Luke Ayers, who you will remember is Scientology’s great Australian hip hop hope.

    The 2-minute film certainly has that Scientology look, and we can’t help wondering if this is a dry run at this year’s Super Bowl ad. Probably not, because it’s just too subtle, and there’s no voiceover telling us that we should be curious about discovering the mystery of ourselves. But still, it’s a well-produced spot, Ridley is a good-looking kid, and the film certainly wants to be profound.

    So give it a good look, and then read Ridley’s testimony that he sprung on his friends. If more young, talented people were extolling the virtues of Scientology like this, it might actually help with recruiting, who knows.

    So here’s your day, Scientology. Enjoy the free advertising, and prepare yourself for Leah’s return on Tuesday.

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  4. The Wrong Guy Member

  5. The Wrong Guy Member

    Leah Remini starts third season with bombshell Scientology escape story

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, November 27, 2018


    After two “special” episodes — one about Jehovah’s Witnesses and one about the emotional pain of leaving Scientology — A&E’s Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath officially kicks off its third season tonight with an absolute blockbuster of an episode.

    Valerie Haney’s story is one that we’ve been waiting to hear for a long time. We actually wrote about Valerie five years ago, but we didn’t tell you her name at that time. In fact, Valerie was still confined to Int Base then, working as a casting agent for Scientology films, and we learned her story from a close friend who was an eyewitness to what had happened to her — that she had suffered some of the blowback when Shelly Miscavige fell afoul of her husband, Scientology leader David Miscavige.

    Valerie didn’t escape from the base until 2016, and now she is telling her story for the first time on tonight’s bombshell episode.

    We’re not going to spoil any of the big surprises for you, but there is so much in this episode that we are going to share a few of the smaller revelations to whet your appetite.

    Mike and Leah begin the show by reminding us of the shocking allegations about David Miscavige and his treatment of his Sea Org minions that came out some nine years ago when former top officials like Marc Headley and Jefferson Hawkins and Amy Scobee joined Mike Rinder to reveal their secrets in a huge series published by the Tampa Bay Times and then on Anderson Cooper’s show and other subsequent programs. Scientology denied that Miscavige was abusive, and some years have gone by now. Are things in the Sea Org still as bad?

    That’s where Valerie comes in. A 37-year veteran of the church who spent 22 years in the Sea Org, she worked closer with Shelly and Dave than anyone, day in and day out, and she had a front-row seat for the beatings and the prisoners being held in “The Hole” — Miscavige’s bizarre office-prison for his executives that was first created in 2004.

    Valerie now confirms what we had been hearing elsewhere — that in 2016 when she left, the Hole was still in existence, and that one of its prisoners is Heber Jentzsch, the president of the Church of Scientology International who is now 82 years old and has been a prisoner for some 12 years.

    Her memory of how Heber in particular was treated, including one incident involving the filming of a video praising Miscavige — well, it’s truly astonishing and we’ll let you hear about it from Valerie.

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  6. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology responds to Leah Remini’s season premiere with smeariest smear video ever

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, November 28, 2018


    While last night’s season premiere of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath was airing on A&E, Scientology quietly posted a 12-minute smear video that may be the apotheosis of the genre.

    As Mike Rinder pointed out in the episode last night, Scientology never disappoints — David Miscavige can’t help but confirm everything the show is saying about him and his organization by following the dictates of L. Ron Hubbard with more vicious attacks on former members.

    Attack. Attack. ATTACK.

    To which we say:

    Thank you! Scientology’s smeary attacks are the best. They not only confirm everything we’ve been saying about the church, but they are Exhibit A for why this atrocious excuse for a nonprofit “church” deserves to be examined by numerous government agencies.

    This new video was so over the top in its smeary smeariness, we thought we’d collect some of the best images from it and share them with you, while expressing our awe.

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  7. The Wrong Guy Member

    One Woman’s Daring Escape From Scientology: ‘I Wanted to End My Life’

    In the Season 3 premiere of ‘Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,’ an ex-member of Scientology’s inner circle details the church’s alleged abuses — and her miraculous escape.

    By Marlow Stern, The Daily Beast


    The third season premiere of A&E’s Emmy-winning docuseries Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath has faced a barrage of legal threats from the Church of Scientology — so much so that a screener of the episode was only made available to press mere hours before its airing Tuesday night.

    And as notoriously litigious as the church is, they had reason to be nervous, as the episode featured the exclusive testimony of Valerie Haney, a woman who was born into Scientology and not only served 22 years in the church’s fraternal religious order Sea Org, whose members are required to sign billion-year contracts, but was also the personal aide to Scientology leader David Miscavige’s wife Shelly, who hasn’t been seen publicly since 2007. Haney says that she last saw Shelly in 2006, crying and entering a car that then departed Scientology’s International Headquarters, or “Gold Base” — a compound on the outskirts of Riverside County, California.

    “What [Miscavige] is doing with his wife, hiding her and not having her anywhere around, I don’t get it. That is heartless to me,” claims Haney.

    Remini famously filed a missing-persons report on Shelly Miscavige’s behalf in 2013, and the LAPD claimed to have performed a wellness check and found Remini’s claims to be “unfounded.”

    “What matters to me is that I have not seen proof that this woman is alive, or doing well, so I can give a shit what the LAPD said as their bullshit statement that they put out, because I haven’t seen her face,” Remini told me. “I’m calling bullshit on it. I did everything that I could with my lawyer, and they gave me the run-around. They said the only thing I could do is start a lawsuit. That would have been a huge cost to me.”

    I also spoke with then-LAPD Detective Kevin Becker, who filed the missing-persons report for Miscavige on Remini’s behalf, and told me, “I and many other detectives believe that the ‘investigation’ was VERY poorly handled and LAPD fell way short on this one.” (Becker has since retired from the force.)

    In the Aftermath episode, Haney says that Shelly was “in more disagreement” with the way her husband was running Scientology and treating its staff. “I saw David Miscavige punch [Remini’s Aftermath co-host and ex-Scientology exec] Mike Rinder, and I remember one time Dave ordered someone to get smashed into the wall and [have] water poured on their head,” Haney says. She further alleges that when she left the church in November of 2016, there was still a Hole — a sort of hybrid reeducation/torture facility in two double-wide trailers on Gold Base — where many once high-ranking Scientologists resided because “they all witnessed David Miscavige beating people up and that is why they are still there, and that is why they’re still controlled.”

    Haney says that Shelly was removed from her post after confiding in her, while Haney was reassigned to “deck work,” or heavy physical labor (in her case digging ditches). “I wanted to end my life,” she tells Remini in the episode.

    Haney says she endured “deck work” for four months, and was then transferred to a video production unit, where she served as a casting director working on pro-Scientology propaganda videos.

    “We were shooting a film that was about the Korean War and about brainwashing — what brainwashing is, and how it is done — and then I went, ‘Oh my gosh… that is what Scientology is,’” she recalls in the episode.

    When Haney asked if she could leave the church, however, she claims that she was told, “Oh no, you worked with David Miscavige, you can’t leave!” as well as forwarded the story of a Gold Base captain who tried to flee in a vehicle with his wife and children only to be turned away by guards.

    So one night, she packed her things, crawled into the car trunk of one of the actors on the film production who wasn’t in Scientology, and made her escape. Once she emerged, Haney flew to Portland to be with her father — only he was still in Scientology, and convinced her to return to the church and “leave correctly,” which in Sea Org means you must be “routed out,” or forced to sign an NDA and participate in a recorded exit interview.

    In the NDA and recorded exit interview, which the church submitted to the show as evidence against Haney (along with the fact that she currently works as a paid assistant to Remini), Haney said that nobody “coerced” her into saying anything or “forced” her into signing anything, and that David Miscavige never mistreated her or anyone else. She also says she had to promise she wouldn’t speak out against the church or associate with ex-members.

    “If I didn’t do and say exactly what [they] wanted me to do and say in that interview, then I was better off dead, because I probably would have killed myself if they didn’t let me leave right at that moment,” Haney says in the episode. “I felt like if I didn’t give them exactly what they wanted then they wouldn’t let me leave… that was the last test in order for me to go see my family and be a normal person.”

    It didn’t end there. Haney claims that she was served a threatening legal letter in the middle of the night by a large mystery man, and that she’s constantly “followed” by agents of the church. She also says that the church turned her brother, who is still a Scientologist, against her, and “manipulated him” into disconnecting from her.

    “They’re doing everything they can to try to shut me up because they know what I know is what abuses have happened in Scientology,” say Haney.

    Still, she refuses to remain silent: “I feel that people need to know the truth, and I cannot keep living a life where I’m scared every second.”

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  8. The Wrong Guy Member

    While Leah Remini asks for government action, the government covers for Scientology overseas

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, November 29, 2018


    From the beginning of A&E’s series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, its two co-stars have repeatedly said that they not only want to expose Scientology’s alleged abuses, but also convince the government to do something about it.

    With the premiere of the show’s third season this week, that refrain became even more prominent as Leah Remini and Mike Rinder talked about “following the money” and appealing to the US government to re-examine Scientology’s tax exempt status in the wake of the show’s many revelations.

    In a promo, Remini even admitted some consternation that her first two seasons weren’t enough to get the government to do something. And despite many things we’ve heard from our own sources that state or federal agencies might, perhaps, be looking into Scientology’s practices, the frustration that nothing yet has happened is becoming pretty evident in Leah’s show.

    And then yesterday our man in Hungary, Péter Bonyai, pointed out something that certainly got our attention:
    While Leah and Mike are calling for action here in the US, overseas the US government is criticizing other countries for actually doing something about Scientology abuses.

    We have told you in the past that part of President Bill Clinton’s legacy was his interest in international religious freedom, as well as his extraordinary assistance to the Church of Scientology. (It was Clinton who signed off on granting the Church of Scientology tax exempt status in 1993, two years after that process had begun under his predecessor, President George H.W. Bush.) Clinton’s State Department hammered the federal government in Germany, for example, when that country cracked down on Scientology for the same kinds of abuses that today Remini and Rinder are complaining about here in the United States.

    Clinton’s focus on international religious freedom resulted in a 1998 law that to this day has the US government monitoring the situation in foreign countries. And earlier this year, the State Department’s annual report had a particularly interesting section about Hungary, Péter wanted us to know.

    If you remember, Péter and others, including historian Chris Owen, have been reporting for us on the really extraordinary things going on in Hungary, where new attitudes about data protection are kicking in (along with other European countries). Scientology is particularly vulnerable to this kind of legislation, because spying on its own members and extracting deeply personal information from them is practically a Scientology sacrament — it literally couldn’t operate under L. Ron Hubbard’s policies if it weren’t violating the privacy of its members on a regular basis.

    So we’ve been watching with some interest as Hungary launched a criminal investigation of Scientology and its use of personal information. Péter pointed out that the investigation was described in the State Department’s most recent report, which came out in May.

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  9. The Wrong Guy Member

    The Valerie Haney interview: Scientology smear tactics, and where Shelly Miscavige is

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, November 30, 2018


    Valerie Haney provided a stunning opening to Leah Remini’s third season in its premiere episode Tuesday night. After working in Scientology’s Sea Org for 22 years, she had escaped the church’s international management compound, Int Base east of Los Angeles, by hiding out in the trunk of an actor’s car as he drove back to LA.

    Her escape was especially problematic for Scientology not only because it was so recent and because Valerie could provide a new layer of confirmation of what others had said about the base, but also because of her position, working so closely with church leader David Miscavige and his wife, Shelly, who disappeared from Int Base in 2005.

    Talking to Valerie last night by telephone, we told her that our readers were left with a lot of questions after Tuesday night’s show, which recounted her daring escape as well as the harassment she’s been going through since the church discovered that she was working with Leah on the program.


    ...we asked her, what is it, exactly, that Dave doesn’t want us to know?

    “That he drank. Every night. It kind of got worse as the Hole was forming in 2004. And I knew how much he drank. I gave him his meals, I made his bed. I woke him up in the morning. I knew everything about their private lives.

    “Like that they maybe had sex once a year, if that. I worked for them for three years, and I recognized twice that they had had sex. And Shelly was just fucked up about it. I was a very sexual person and I would have sex with my husband every night and then tell her — I mean, we were girlfriends,” Valerie says. And Shelly shared with her the frustrations of her marriage.

    “Shelly hated it, because he was not affectionate to her. Even in closed quarters he wasn’t showing her affection. I’m in the living room and I’m the only one standing there with them, and it’s Christmas, and there’s no warm embrace, there’s no kiss.

    “She had a separate room. They had a bedroom, but she had a dressing room where she could unwind and smoke. and she would talk with me, about Dave. Sometimes for hours. She was jealous of Laurisse [Laurisse Henley-Smith, Miscavige’s ‘personal communicator,’ also known as “Lou”]. She would ask me, ‘Are they fucking? Can you find out?’ But they weren’t. It would be impossible for me not to know.”

    “The other thing Dave doesn’t want you to know: His extravagance and his finances. And his schedule — how much differently he spent his day than everyone around him,” Valerie says.

    “Let me tell you about his normal day. He would wake up at 11 am. He would go into his room that was an office and do ‘traffic.’ That was all of the submissions that had come in overnight, people asking for his approval on things — he had to have approval on everything because he was a micromanager. At 12 to 12:30 he’d have breakfast. Shelly had her own office, but she always wanted to eat with him. But he would talk to Lou the whole time. I would bring the food for all three of them. And if Lou didn’t have something for her meal he would scream at me because Lou wasn’t happy. But he didn’t give a fuck about Shelly’s meal.”

    What was his typical breakfast? “Poached eggs and toast or an English muffin. Coffee. Sometimes an omelet. If he was doing his diet, then five egg whites and one yolk. Turkey bacon and half a slice of bread. It had to be perfect or it was hell. I did lower conditions on eggs, and I got sec-checked because his breakfast was wrong once.”

    After the meal he would go to the huge and elaborate structure — “Building 50” — that had been constructed just for Miscavige and the Religious Technology Center. “He’d either have a meeting and scream at people, or he would go into his lounge and watch sports. Or walk around and smoke. He was very lackadaisical about it, while every other Sea Org member on the base was tearing around, walking fast, and taking 15-minute meal breaks.”

    At lunch, it was always the same three that had been together for breakfast — Shelly, Dave, and Laurisse. But for dinner, sometimes they would invite a fourth, like Jenny Linson or Angie Blankenship.

    If they were in trouble, they’d still be invited, but Valerie would be asked to prepare a surprise for them.

    “He would say, ‘Bring them coffee but put cayenne pepper in it.’ So I would do that.”

    After dinner, there were more meetings. “They would talk about how fucked up the people were. And then he would watch TV. He loved that Jennifer Garner show, Alias. He watched it all the time. On the weekend, he had to go to the theater to see the latest releases.” It didn’t seem to bother him that he spent a lot of time watching sports or films when the people around him were running from place to place on a neverending emergency schedule, never with time to watch TV or movies.

    “Then at about midnight he would go to his lounge and have scotch with Lou. Shelly didn’t like him drinking, and she tried to keep me from giving him alcohol. To hide it. This would be like nightly. He would drink scotch, smoke, and talk to Laurisse. I was there, so I know they didn’t fuck. I was in the room.”

    “It was the dichotomy that always struck me. He ran a tight ship and you needed to be a tough motherfucker. ‘What the fuck have you been doing? Sec check him and find out what the fuck he’s been doing!’ But his day was so lackadaisical. Shelly told me, ‘I feel like I’m a totally unproductive person.’ She said, ‘This is a joke, we’re not doing anything.'”

    We told Valerie that Dave’s typical day actually sounded kind of boring.

    “Exactly! But then there were expensive trips to the ship. To Disney World. Or diving excursions, which the Sea Org paid for. I mean, the finances were incredible. The whole Tom Cruise 2004 birthday on the Freewinds. The Sea Org paid for all of that. They flew in chefs from Nobu. They flew chefs in from Tom’s favorite Paris restaurant. They ordered in lobsters. It was so extravagant.”

    Valerie says she got along well with Cruise and “had no problem” with him. “He was nicer than Dave,” she says.

    We told her that John Brousseau told us, “Tom Cruise worships David Miscavige like a god.”

    “They worshiped each other,” she says.

    What did Shelly tell you, we asked, about the job she was in charge of in 2004, auditioning women to be Cruise’s next girlfriend?

    “She thought it was ridiculous. She was just doing what Dave asked her to do. But it absolutely happened.”

    Valerie tells us that the relationship between Dave and Shelly deteriorated, and began to get really bad in the summer of 2004. That’s when Miscavige spent huge amounts on a lavish birthday party for Tom Cruise on the Freewinds. Tom had been away from Scientology for several years while he was with Nicole Kidman, but after their 2001 split, Miscavige had made getting Cruise back into the fold the church’s number one goal. By 2004, Cruise was completely gung-ho, and Dave wanted to reward him for it.

    Each June, there was a celebration aboard the Freewinds to celebrate its “Maiden Voyage” under Scientology’s ownership in 1988. This time, the Maiden Voyage celebrations would also include a major blowout to celebrate Cruise’s 42nd birthday on July 3.

    “Shelly was getting sick of Dave’s lack of response to her, and of his arrogance and the way he was mistreating other people,” Valerie says. But Shelly was also perturbed by Miscavige’s all-consuming “bromance” with Cruise that summer. “Is it just me?” Shelly asked her, wondering if she was the only one put off by Miscavige’s obsession with Cruise.

    But then things got worse: “On the Freewinds, he denigrated Shelly in front of the other executives. She was crying in her room.”

    The next year, 2005, things got worse and worse. “Shelly was pissed off all the time. Dave was raging at everyone day after day, except for Laurisse. And he had nothing for Shelly. So she was crying every night. She snapped at him a couple of times — ‘Oh, you’re going with Laurisse?’ like that.”

    Dave and Shelly had reached a breaking point that summer, but it was Valerie and the other workers in their proximity who felt the effects of it first.

    “Everyone connected to Shelly was busted. I was removed and got put on decks — hard labor, digging ditches. And Shelly was separated from Dave. They were no longer together. He was in Los Angeles, she was still at Int Base.”

    Our other sources have told us how unusual that was. Dave and Shelly were known for going everywhere together. But suddenly, Dave was gone.

    “They were sec-checking me. ‘Has Shelly said anything?’ they asked. They were investigating me and another girl — I think they were gathering information before they were going to investigate Shelly herself.”

    Shelly then did two things that apparently sealed her fate. First, she filled some job openings on something known as the “Org Board.” Valerie fills in the detail that one of the reasons Shelly did this while Dave was away was that she wanted to put people in certain positions to minimize their exposure to Miscavige, hoping to lessen some of the tension on the base.

    But when Dave returned from LA and saw that she had filled in the org board, he had a titanic meltdown. (We have multiple eyewitnesses to this.) He went back to Los Angeles, and Shelly spent about a week being interrogated.

    We told Valerie that during that week, one eyewitness told us that Shelly managed to take a car off the base and drove to Los Angeles, trying to make one last effort to salvage her marriage.

    “Yes, that happened,” Valerie says. “Shelly grabbed a car and drove to LA. She drove down and then she came right back.”

    Then Shelly had one final act at the base.

    “She had to move their stuff out of where they were berthing. There was this huge move going on for a renovation. I was asking if I could help, but I wasn’t allowed to. I was trying to weasel my way in getting close enough to talk to her, but I couldn’t see her.”

    As others have told us, Dave and Shelly’s private rooms were in a building known as one of the “Villas,” and plans to renovate it were being held up because Miscavige hadn’t moved his stuff out to temporary rooms. So Shelly had it done. Again, it appeared that she was simply trying to be helpful.

    “Dave found out about it, that she had touched his stuff, and the very next day she was gone,” Valerie says.

    “I saw her walk to the car, get in on the passenger side, and then drive away. It was two and a half months after I’d been busted.”

    She never saw Shelly again.

    (Valerie agrees with our other eyewitnesses that Shelly’s disappearance happened in late summer 2005, not 2006 as she said on Tuesday night’s episode.)

    We asked her how people talked about it after Shelly never showed up again at Int Base.

    “They would say, she must have betrayed him. She must have done something. She’s treasonous. Dave must have had good reason.” But mostly, people didn’t dare talk about it at all.

    After Shelly was gone, Miscavige spent even more time with his personal communicator, Laurisse. “She was with him every single second — that wasn’t the case before.”

    Did Valerie suspect that something was going on between them at that point?

    “Yes, but I can’t prove anything,” she says.


    And Shelly? Valerie agrees that she’s still at the CST headquarters near Lake Arrowhead. And it would be very difficult for her to leave now.

    “She’s been in Scientology her whole life. If she left now, she would have absolutely nothing.”

    We have written extensively since 2012 about Shelly’s disappearance, and there have been magazine stories and even television shows about it. So people often ask us if we believe Miscavige would have Shelly moved to another location after all that media attention about her.

    We told Valerie that according to our other sources, we think that’s unlikely. She agreed.

    “I don’t think there’s any other place where Dave can control her like at that place. It’s super secret, and the CST workers take that seriously.”

    Last year, on Leah’s show, John Brousseau said that Miscavige will keep Shelly in hiding until she dies, and that she’s definitely a prisoner.

    “I think JB is right. I think that she is going to die there. It’s very unfortunate because she’s actually a lovely lady.”

    More at
  10. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology is known for its use of spies — and tonight, you’ll hear from one

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, December 4, 2018


    We hope you are drawn in as tonight’s episode dives into a subject that has come up in the series before, but not at this level. Tonight, Leah and Mike talk to a very brave woman who is taking a huge risk to bring us her story. Her name is Cierra Westerman.

    You may remember that Cierra first emerged here at the Underground Bunker in January. She told us the story about how she had been recruited out of a trade school to work for Scientology in 2008, when the church was under siege by the Anonymous movement. She infiltrated Anonymous for the church, and then went on to an assignment surveilling Mike Rinder by living in a rented house near his. At the time, circa 2009, Scientology was running a huge operation in Clearwater, with multiple rented homes, following numerous former Scientology executives, and putting tracking devices on their cars.

    Cierra told us it was all being run out of a warehouse that had strategically been chosen across from another of their targets — a man named Robert Almblad.

    Tonight, you’ll get to meet Robert, as he’s the second guest of the episode.

    We wrote a multi-part series at the Village Voice (part 1, part 2) about the incredible harassment campaign Scientology threw at Almblad, an inventor who had hired his old friend Mike Rinder to help get the word out about his newest product.

    What Almblad had invented and was trying to market is a little glossed over in tonight’s episode, so we want to make sure you understand what Almblad was doing.

    Hospital stays can be lethal for people with compromised immune systems. You have probably experienced what it’s like to have an elderly relative — or a very young one — in a hospital fighting one ailment which makes them vulnerable to others they might pick up there. It’s important that they are not exposed to bacteria, for example. And guess what is one of the worst sources of bacteria in a hospital? (In fact, anywhere.)

    Ice machines.

    Because of the way people stock ice and serve themselves, ice machines can be filthy sources of bacteria. Almblad knew that institutions would pay good money for sterile ice machines, and he’d developed an osmosis system to make sure that his machines put out ice chips that were bacteria-free. He was going directly to major corporations with his prototype, hoping to land gigantic contracts to put his machines in hospitals around the country. For an inventor, it’s a delicate time when he’s trying to get buy-in, but also keep things confidential from competitors.

    Mike Rinder was just out of Scientology, Almblad was also a former member. He knew Mike’s skills, and knew that Mike could help him persuade large institutions to buy his machine. So he hired him. And to Scientology, that put a target on his back.

    You’ll learn from Almblad tonight what he went through.

    More at
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  11. The Wrong Guy Member

    Slimed by Scientology, Cierra Westerman says she’s still feeling good about coming forward

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, December 5, 2018


    Before last night’s episode of Scientology and the Aftermath even aired, Cierra Westerman:
    • Was called a bigot by the Church of Scientology for wearing a Confederate Flag visor.
    • Was told by a former colleague that she was likely to be sued by a former employer.
    • Was told she could never again see a couple of members of her extended family.
    • Was criticized by Scientology for owning two pistols (mistakenly called “revolvers” by the church).
    • And was accused by Scientology of being a “liar 4 hire” for Leah Remini.
    Westerman, a former private investigator who did work for the Church of Scientology, told us that she had been prepared for the attacks to come, but they still stunned her.

    The pistols, for example, she bought at the urging of her then-boyfriend Dwayne Powell, a longtime Scientology private eye. “The reason I had those was because Dwayne was concerned about the church and wanted me to get protection,” she says.

    She made no excuses for the Confederate Flag hat, but what was Scientology trying to say? After all, it was the church that had hired her — initially to infiltrate the Anonymous movement in 2008, and then later to watch Mike Rinder’s house and record the license plates of the people who visited him, as she explained in last night’s show. (She wasn’t paid for her appearance on the show, despite Scientology’s claim.)

    We asked her last night, after seeing the attacks and seeing the episode, was she still glad that she had come forward?

    “I am. And I hope it really does help.”

    She’s still finding more evidence from her work for Scientology, which lasted until 2011. For example, just yesterday she discovered a flash drive with notes from her work on the “D-Line.”

    She explained that it was short for “Detail line,” their euphemism for digging through the trash of their targets. She says that Powell and others would obtain bags of trash from sanitation workers — paying them about $20 each — and then took it back to the warehouse, where Cierra and others would sift through it looking for any information they could gather about people.

    Last night, during the episode, Mike Rinder said that he knew his trash was being targeted and he was very careful about what he put in it so that the church never got anything valuable from him.

    But actually, Cierra says Mike did throw away something very useful and he may not have realized it. “He threw away the box from a smartphone. And that was great for the investigators, because the box had all the numbers. If we have that information we could hack the phone. That is one thing you want to keep and never get rid of,” she says.

    It’s insights like that into what Scientology’s PIs are up to which is the reason we appreciate Cierra so much.

    She also told us she was surprised that some other things she told Mike and Leah didn’t make it into the show. Like what, we asked.

    “That the trash guys actually ended up getting in a lot of trouble and lost their jobs, for example,” she says. “They weren’t supposed to be doing that and they got fired. And I think about how not only were we affecting families like Mike’s and the other ex-Scientologists, but we also affected the lives of those trash guys. I felt really bad about that.”

    Continued at
  12. The Wrong Guy Member

    Tonight, Leah Remini examines her own role in the bizarre Scientology – Nation of Islam dance

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, December 11, 2018


    In 2010, Louis Farrakhan formally made the call for his followers in the Nation of Islam to embrace Dianetics. A year later, at the Village Voice, we remarked for the first time on what a bizarre idea it was — that two small but such different groups would be getting into bed with each other.

    Farrakhan himself had been interacting with Scientology for far longer than that — as far back as the early 1990s, according to some sources. But definitely by the mid-2000s he was seen attending events at the Hollywood Celebrity Centre, and in tonight’s episode of Scientology and the Aftermath Leah Remini tells us that things started when Isaac Hayes bugged David Miscavige about how white Scientology was and what was he going to do about it.

    Leah herself played a role in the coming together of these two odd groups, which we wrote about earlier and which makes up a good portion of tonight’s episode. She admits to not really knowing what she was doing when she helped fund Scientology courses for people like the Nation of Islam’s Tony Muhammad, who has become such a part of Scientology he was given the church’s highest honor last year, the Freedom Medal.

    We’ve seen evidence that many of the Nation of Islam’s members have responded to Farrakhan’s call by embracing introductory (no E-meter) Dianetics courses, and a smaller number have pursued Scientology itself, going well up the “Bridge to Total Freedom.” But we still hesitate to call this interaction a “merger.” We aren’t seeing Nation of Islam people joining Scientology’s controlling inner corps, the Sea Org, and we don’t see any white Scientologists joining the Nation of Islam.

    So what is going on, and what kind of interaction is taking place? For tonight’s episode, Leah and Mike Rinder bring on a couple of very interesting guests, Ishmael Bey and Hector Falu-Muhammad, who help us understand what’s in it for Farrakhan, and how they were dismayed to see the Nation change the more it interacted with Scientology.

    Continued at
  13. The Wrong Guy Member

    Tiponi Grey death: What happened to her following Leah Remini Scientology Aftermath episode

    By Frank Yemi, Monsters and Critics


    Tiponi Grey Magi was memorialized at the end of Season 3 Episode 4: The Disappeared of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. Her death was not explained on the show, which left fans wondering what happened to Tiponi Grey.

    Tiponi was a mother of three children, who died due to natural causes about a month ago. She reportedly collapsed in her apartment and was taken to a hospital. Grey was 50 years old when she suddenly passed away.


    According to a GoFundMe set up by her daughter, she was ill for a long time and wanted to be cremated.

    More at

    Tiponi Grey, 1968-2018, a woman who told off Scientology for its lack of compassion

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker
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  14. The Wrong Guy Member

    Leah Remini Fires Back At Louis Farrakhan’s Defense Of Scientology And Comments About Her Exit From The Church | Inquisitr


    “No one’s trying to take Scientology down for reasons that are unwarranted. And once you were in Scientology for a good 35, 45 years, maybe then ask these kinds of questions. And you should ask these types of questions to the families who have been destroyed.”

    “When you go to sleep at night crying because you don’t have your daughter, or your son, or your mom, or your children have never met your grandparents because they believe in Scientology more than family, that’s when you can start questioning people, and why and how they have been hurt. And also, Mr. Farrakhan, the name is Leah Re-mi-ni. Remini.”

    More at

    Inside Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam’s Strange Ties to Scientology | The Daily Beast

    Leah Remini responds to Louis Farrakhan on Scientology [Video] | Yahoo Entertainment
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  15. The Wrong Guy Member

    "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath" Sneak Peek: Where is Shelly? | Tuesday, 12/18 | A&E

    ""Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath" New Episodes Tuesday at 9PM on A&E."
  16. The Wrong Guy Member

    Leah Remini asks ‘Where is Shelly’ as the Church of Scientology turns 65!

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, December 18, 2018


    In tonight’s episode, Leah Remini and Mike Rinder provide excellent background on Michele Diane Barnett Miscavige, piecing together Shelly’s upbringing in Scientology and as a true believer. Janis Gillham Grady, who has written two books about those early years with L. Ron Hubbard on the Apollo (volume one, volume two), provides great insights about who Shelly was and why she ended up married to David Miscavige, another youngster brought up in Hubbard’s shadow.

    They also talk to Tom Devocht, who was very close to David Miscavige while he was a Sea Org official. Tom repeats some amazing stories that he’s told us before, which suggested that Shelly knew full well that her husband was losing his grip on reality.

    Tom also points out that everyone eventually ran afoul of Miscavige, and he raises the possibility that perhaps, Shelly had finally reached her own breaking point and, by defying Dave in even just a small way, had sabotaged herself because she could no longer take being around him.

    We have our doubts about that idea. Just a couple of weeks ago, we confirmed something with Valerie Haney that we had heard from another eyewitness who was there at Int Base during Shelly’s final weeks. After Miscavige blew his stack, he went back to Los Angeles. Valerie confirms that during that last week before she vanished, Shelly took a car from Int Base and drove to Los Angeles, apparently trying to make one last attempt to reconcile with her husband. She soon returned to the base after that mission failed. Only then was she sent away to her CST prison.

    In other words, Shelly had tried to save her marriage, and had tried to keep from being sent away. That’s our conclusion. And, based on what she has communicated since then to her family, we believe that she’s fully aware that she’s a prisoner and she will never leave the CST base alive.

    Tonight, you’ll see what Mike and Leah are attempting to do about that.

    More at
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  17. Open Letter to Rev. Dr. Cecil Murray about Scientology, & Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath

    Background: Rev. Dr. Cecil "Chip" Murray was the Pastor of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles (First A.M.E. or FAME) from 1977 to 2004. He is now the John R. Tansey Chair of Christian Ethics in the School of Religion at the University of Southern California. The University of Southern California Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement is named after him.

    Azhlynne's Blog: Open Letter to Rev. Dr. Cecil Murray

    * * * * * BEGIN CONCLUSION * * * * *

    Reverend Doctor Murray, I respectfully request that you look into the realities of Scientology and the darkness of it’s teachings. We are living in a time of great change and where more and more people are being drawn away from God and His light.

    Scientology is not a church. It is not a religion. It is a tax free conglomerate hiding behind the shield of religion while leading it’s members away from God into the belief that they can become Infinite and god like all on their own.

    It is my sincere and firm belief that you are being used, Sir, to lend credibility, respectability and legitimacy to the cult of Scientology and what they teach and represent at detriment to your own reputation.

    I beg you to do your due diligence where Scientology is concerned and learn for yourself who they really are. Evil often masks itself in the guise of goodness but once the surface is scratched the truth is revealed.

    Please reconsider your stance against The Aftermath and your defense of Scientology.


    Stefani Hutchison

    * * * * * END CONCLUSION * * * * *
  18. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology threatened to sue over last night’s episode, settled for sliming Leah & Mike instead

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, December 19, 2018


    We talked to Leah last night, asking her what she thought about the letter.

    “It’s written like a five-year-old wrote it,” she said. “The lawyer is being told what to write by David Miscavige. I don’t believe any of those words came from Shelly. They came From Dave. So I’m gong to continue to ask, where’s Shelly?”

    It’s kind of incredible that Scientology would continue to claim that Leah’s attempts to find Shelly Miscavige are a stunt, but not offer any proof of Shelly’s whereabouts or her condition.

    And even better — the threat of a lawsuit over simply asking the question, why hasn’t Shelly Miscavige been allowed to go where she wants and to visit her family?

    “They can continue to threaten me and Mike, but my answer is the same as it has been all along — cut the bullshit and bring your lawsuit against me. Come on. Let’s move this ball down the field,” Leah said.

    “I do want to say also that law enforcement needs to act, and they need to act in a way that works for the people who are in cults. That’s either by convening a grand jury where Scientologists are made to understand the consequences of lying, or conduct a raid — but a raid with us, former members they knew and trusted.”

    We have talked to other former Scientologists who say they have volunteered to go along with law enforcement to help guide them and talk to the people inside Scientology’s closed compounds.

    “Law enforcement can’t just walk in and say, ‘Shelly, come with us.’ They need to bring people she knows and who will protect her.”

    More at
  19. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology Lawyer Compares Leah Remini to Jason from Friday the 13th For Asking About Location, Safety of Shelly Miscavige

    By Anna Merlan, Jezebel, December 19, 2018


    No one seems to dispute that Shelly Miscavige, wife of David Miscavige, Scientology’s Chairman of the Board, has not been seen in public since 2007. And no one has more persistently, vocally wondered where she is than Leah Remini, ex-Scientologist turned host of an A&E show, Aftermath, that vigorously criticizes the church and features interviews with ex-members. The most recent episode of the program focused entirely on Shelly’s alleged disappearance; the church, in response, did two things, one predictable and one a little strange.

    Remini has repeatedly claimed over the years that Shelly Miscavige is “missing,” after she failed to show up at Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’s 2006 wedding and didn’t respond to repeated efforts by Remini to contact her. (Remini has said the two previously had a cordial relationship and exchanged occasional letters.)

    In 2013, after leaving the church, Remini filed a missing person’s report with the Los Angeles Police Department. That report was called “unfounded” by the department and dismissed, with Detective Gus Villanueva telling E! News that detectives had met with the Miscaviges and seen Shelly in person at an undisclosed date.

    That did very little to quiet speculation, however, which has persisted in the 11 years since Miscavige has been seen in public. The A&E episode rehashed Miscavige’s long public absence and Remini’s efforts to locate her, questioning why the FBI and local law enforcement haven’t acted more aggressively to make sure Miscavige is wherever she is of her own free will. (On the show, Remini speculated that David Miscavige would “never allow Shelly to be in public, to be subpoenaed, because of what she’s witnessed.”)

    Scientology has responded to each episode of Remini’s show in two ways. First, they’ve sent apparently voluminous legal letters, portions of which A&E dutifully airs during the episode and puts on their website. This round called Remini a “foaming anti-Scientologist” and likened her to Jason from Friday the 13th. It also claimed that Shelly believes Remini is “intentionally engaged in provoking hate crimes against her husband and her Church.”

    <screenshots snipped>

    But typically, as journalist Tony Ortega points out, Scientology also responds to Aftermath episodes by posting counter-videos on their own dedicated anti-Aftermath site. Those videos often feature relatives of the people who were interviewed on Aftermath, people still in the church who loyally defend it. (Scientology is believed to practice “disconnection,” in which ex-Church members are shunned by their families.)

    The church has previously said that Remini has “stalked” Shelly Miscavige for years, and the official Aftermath response site has previously responded to the Shelly story in 2017 by calling it a “con” cooked up by Remini and Mike Rinder, an ex-church executive who is Remini’s co-host. (Each person associated with the show has their own attack site created by Scientology; Rinder’s accuses him of domestic abuse, calling him a “wife beater” and “father from hell.”)

    But in this case, Scientology didn’t do that: there’s no video featuring Shelly Miscavige denouncing the lies against her. There’s no written interview with her, even, proclaiming her well-being in her own words. All of which, you’d think, would be easy enough for the church to do, and would certainly be in keeping with their standard practices.

    Other media outlets have also pursued the story with little apparent success: the Daily Beast’s Marlow Stern reports receiving what he termed a “threatening letter” from a law firm associated with Scientology when he inquired as to Miscavige’s whereabouts:

    In a threatening letter to The Daily Beast, Glassman Media Group, the law firm representing the Church of Scientology, called Remini and Rinder’s claims “false,” said they haven’t provided any evidence of Shelly’s whereabouts because they don’t want to “dignify the preposterous allegations,” and alleged, “Mrs. Miscavige has never been missing and is living her life to her choosing.” (They declined to provide any information on her current state or her whereabouts.)

    There are a few allegations as to where Shelly might be. Journalist Tony Ortega, who has covered Scientology critically for decades, reported in 2016 that Shelly had been spotted near Crestline, California looking “frail.” (Full disclosure: Ortega was previously an editor at the Village Voice, where I also worked, several years after his tenure.)

    More recently, Ortega has written that an ex-Scientologist and other sources have alleged that Miscavige was sent into forced exile during a period of increased marital tension with David. His sources have told Ortega that she continues to live in Twin Peaks, a small town in Southern California, near the Church of Spiritual Technology, the arm of Scientology which owns all the copyrights to founder L. Ron Hubbard’s work. (CST’s mandate is to preserve Hubbard’s work, which it does, naturally, by digging vaults, Ortega writes: “His words are etched on stainless steel plates which are held in titanium boxes filled with inert gases, and then stored in the underground vaults, three of which are located in California, and one is in New Mexico.”)

    Rebecca Kaufman, an attorney for Scientology and frequent public spokesperson for the church, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did the Church’s official media relations arm. We’ll update should we hear back.

    Correction: An earlier version of this piece misidentified Twin Peaks as located in northern, not southern, California. The date Leah Remini filed a missing persons report has been corrected to 2013, not 2015.


    Scientology Attorney Demands Jezebel Remove Our Story on Shelly Miscavige's Alleged Disappearance

    By Anna Merlan, Jezebel, December 20, 2018


    A lawyer representing Shelly Miscavige, the wife of David Miscavige, Scientology’s leader, has demanded that Jezebel remove a story we ran yesterday on Shelly’s alleged disappearance. The attorney, Jeffrey K. Riffer, writes “Mrs. Miscavige is not missing” and that she is “appalled” by claims that she has disappeared. He adds that in running our piece, Jezebel furthered the harassment of one woman by another.

    The allegations that Shelly Miscavige has disappeared come from Leah Remini, an ex-Scientologist turned one of the church’s most prominent critics, via her show Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. Our blog yesterday featured a recap of the most recent show, which dealt entirely with the fact that Miscavige hasn’t been seen in public since 2007, as well as how Scientology responded to the airing of the program. Remini filed a missing persons report in 2013, asking that Shelly’s whereabouts be investigated, which Riffer correctly says was closed and labeled “unfounded” by the Los Angeles Police Department.

    Jezebel contacted an attorney connected with Scientology and their media relations department yesterday and didn’t receive a reply. After several hours, we ran our post, with a note that they had been contacted for comment and we would update if we heard back. About 30 minutes after the post went live, we received a response from the media relations department, asking only when our deadline was. When I replied that the story had gone live and I would update it with comment from them as soon as they provided it, I did not receive a response. The legal letter was sent at 9 p.m. California time, via email, about six hours after the post went live.

    In his letter, Riffer, who works for the Los Angeles-based firm Elkins Kalt Weintraub Reuben Gartside LLP, opens by saying that the Miscaviges have been married for nearly 40 years, and that Shelly has been a Sea Org member for about 45. (The Sea Org is reserved for the most dedicated members of the church; Scientology acknowledges Sea Org members sign a one-billion year pledge to serve, saying it is “a symbolic document which, similar to vows of dedication in other faiths and orders, serves to signify an individual’s eternal commitment to the goals, purposes and principles of the Scientology religion.”)

    “Jezebel is a feminist website,” Riffer adds in his letter. “It should not be a tool to allow one woman (Remini) to harass another woman (Mrs. Miscavige), her husband and her religion.”

    From there, the letter makes some specific claims about both Shelly and Remini, which are as follows:

    1. Mrs. Miscavige is not “missing.” Remini previously filed a “missing person” report about Mrs. Miscavige with the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”). LAPD investigated. It then immediately concluded that Remini’s report was “unfounded,” which means the report was false and meritless. Mrs. Miscavige has no interest in appearing in public merely because Remini – who is no friend to Mrs. Miscavige, her husband or her religion (see below) – wants to use that as some cheap publicity stunt to get ratings.

    The LAPD hasn’t said that Remini’s report was “false” or charged her with filing a false report, which would be a misdemeanor under California law, but they did, as far as we know, close the investigation in 2015.

    Second, Riffer returns to an accusation frequently made by Scientology against Remini, namely that her program is inciting hate crimes against the church:

    2. Mr. David Miscavige has been the subject of death threats, including by people incited by Remini’s program. Remini has fawned over a program guest (Brandon Reisdorf) who was a convicted felon and the subject of a criminal restraining order (for threatening to physically harm Mr. Miscavige). No responsible person would have booked such a guest on a television program in the first place. Remini (a) booked him for her show and (b) applauded him on the air for his criminal and psychotic acts.

    Another of Remini’s “followers” threatened to assassinate Mr. Miscavige. When questioned by law enforcement, he confessed that the “King of Queens lady” motivated his criminal act. He was arrested, convicted and imprisonedfor felonies. Remini was mute.

    Most women would be appalled if another woman acted that way to their husband – and Mrs. Miscavige is appalled at Remini’s behavior.

    Brandon Reisdorf, the guest mentioned by Riffer, grew up in a Scientology family, and Aftermath has previously outlined the Reisdorf family’s story, claiming that when suffering from mental health problems as a young adult, he was put in isolation and subject to daily auditing sessions. Reisdorf’s brother reportedly “disconnected” from him and the family after they left Scientology and were declared “Suppressive People.” (An SP designation reportedly requires all devout Scientologists to actively shun the person.)

    At that point, per the show, Brandon Reisdorf threw a hammer through the window of a Scientology building, for which he was arrested and charged with a felony and a hate crime enhancement for the religious nature of his target. He was put in a psychiatric unit, he says, and eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Reisdorf remains on probation until 2019, and journalist Tony Ortega has reported that Scientology complained to his probation officer about his appearance on Remini’s show.

    Riffer is also correct that another man was arrested in 2016 for making threats against David Miscavige and other Scientologists: According to police, Andre Barkanov of Illinois called Scientology’s main telephone line and vowed to kill both Miscavige and “every single” member of the church. (The claim that he specifically referred to the “King of Queens lady” is one that I can only find cited in Scientology publications; at the time, a spokeswoman for the church told the Los Angeles Times “From what we have been told, his actions appear to have been incited by anti-Scientology propaganda.”)

    Riffer also accuses Remini of filing the police report as a way to get the LAPD to send a note to Shelly, encouraging her to leave both the church and David. He also defends David’s character:

    3. Remini has harassed Mrs. Miscavige before. Remini has admitted in writing that she filed the “missing person” report with LAPD regarding Mrs. Miscavige because Remini had just left the Church of Scientology and Remini wanted to conscript the Los Angeles Police Department to deliver a note from Remini to Mrs. Miscavige recommending that Mrs. Miscavige leave her husband and her religion, and go to Remini!

    Most wives would consider a demand to leave their husband and religion to be outrageous and insane — which is exactly how Mrs. Miscavige views it.

    4. Mr. Miscavige has led a worldwide religion for more than 30 years. His commitment in service to parishioners and the community is well documented. The Church is experiencing its greatest era of growth with more than 70 new Churches opening in recent years. Mr. Miscavige personally completed a 25-year program to recover all of the Founder’s religious writings and lectures and make all of the religion’s materials available. He spearheads the Church’s humanitarian initiatives in human rights, morality and drug education. See [cult link snipped] and [cult link snipped].

    Remini’s implication that Mr. Miscavige would do anything to hurt his wife is absurd. Indeed, as noted above, law enforcement (LAPD) already reached the same conclusion.

    Ex-Scientologists have used Remini’s program to accuse David Miscavige of physically beating them up. No one has ever, to our knowledge, reported seeing him use any kind of violence towards Shelly.

    Ex-church members have alleged to Tony Ortega that Shelly was sent away in 2005 or 2006 because of a strained relationship with David, caused by her reportedly making some executive decisions at the Int Base Scientology location without his express permission. They have said they believe she lives near a Scientology outpost in Twin Peaks, California, and may have handlers or guards watching her. Ortega reported in 2016 that Shelly had been spotted looking “frail” in the area, and that the witness noted the presence of two men who seemed to be leading her.

    Finally, Riffer accuses Remini of knowingly promoting a hoax:

    5. Remini knows that the “Where is Shelly?” story is a hoax. One of Remini’s (and co-host Rinder’s) former confidants (Marty Rathbun) has publicly exposed, on a video he posted on the Internet, that the “Where is Shelly?” story is a “scam from the beginning.” [Here Riffer embeds the following video]

    Please watch the video. Its bracing evidence that Remini should not have broadcast a bogus story and Jezebel should not be a party to this charade by giving Remini any more publicity about this.

    Or, in case you prefer to read, the key portion of the interview states: “[In] 2013, I think it was, Rinder told me about that, that she [Remini] was going to do a whole thing about ‘where’s Shelly’ ... And I said, ‘Mike, why would Leah do something like this, you know, if she has any concern about her own credibility and integrity? You know she’s not missing ... and you know that the last person in the world she’d want to see is Leah Remini or Mike Rinder.’ Mike goes, ‘Yeah, yeah, I know, I know...’ He knew. He knew it was a scam from the beginning. He knew it was a cheap shot from the beginning... [Remini] goes, ‘I know that, I knew she wasn’t missing.’ ... In other words, she told me she is in complete and utter league and agreement with Mike Rinder. ... she knew that. That was cool with her. In other words, she knew it was a scam from the beginning. ... She’s complaining because the police aren’t investigating the Shelly thing, right. They get their documents, their responses, no further story, right? Because there’s nothing there. [They] are laughing all the way to the bank.”

    This brings us to a fascinating piece of Scientology drama: Marty Rathbun, seen in the video above, was a senior executive in the church before leaving in 2004. In 2013, his wife Monique, a non-Scientologist, filed a lawsuit accusing the church of harassing her for years. In 2016, however, Rathbun abruptly fired her lawyers and filed a motion to end her lawsuit without prejudice.

    Sometime in the past two years, Marty Rathbun evidently rejoined Scientology, an extraordinarily unusual turn of events. In 2017, he began appearing in videos produced by the church which criticize Remini and the show. Journalist Tony Ortega has speculated that Rathbun is part of a defensive effort that seems motivated by a concern that Scientology could lose its tax-exempt status.

    Riffer’s letter closes with an appeal to Jezebel as women, scolding us for running our story yesterday at all. (He quotes our headline as it first appeared, with a typo in the spelling of Shelly Miscavige’s name; the typo was corrected after the post went up.)

    Riffer writes:

    Jezebel should not be a tool to allow one woman to harass another woman, her husband and her religion. Please remove the “Scientology Lawyer Compares Leah Remini to Jason from Friday the 13th For Asking About Location, Safety of Shelly Miscavage,” post immediately.

    We’ll certainly take it under advisement. In the meantime, we would certainly appreciate it if Scientology would make Shelly Miscavige available to us—or to anyone, really—for an interview.

    Correction: An earlier version of this post stated that Remini filed her missing persons report in 2015; she filed in 2013 and it was dismissed “hours later” per an ABC report at the time.

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  20. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology’s smear machine hurting your reputation? For $1,500 they can help with that.

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, December 23, 2018


    Before we continue with our year in review, we wanted to share with you something a tipster forwarded to us. It’s an advertising mailer for a particular wing of Scientology that targets businessmen, trying to convince them that L. Ron Hubbard was a genius-level business administrator.

    The flier offers to help deal with poisonous attacks from competitors who engage in what Scientology calls “black propaganda.”

    Well, that’s pretty rich. No one does “black PR” like Scientology itself. Leah Remini, Mike Rinder, and heck, your proprietor, are constantly targeted with smear campaigns by Scientology, conducted at huge expense on social media.

    But here, Scientology is offering to help neutralize that kind of malicious gossip with a $1,500 set of books.

    Isn’t that convenient?


  21. The Wrong Guy Member

    Nation of Islam takes a bigoted swipe at Leah Remini and the ‘Jews’ behind her show

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, December 26, 2018


    Nation of Islam figure and Scientology Freedom Medal winner Tony Muhammad was apparently pretty unhappy about Leah Remini’s recent episode about the strange relationship between the two groups.

    Leah’s show aired on December 11, and she spent part of it talking about how she had been a central part of the interaction between the two groups. A document shows that she was thanked by the church in 2010 for helping to pay for Tony Muhammad’s courses as part of her donations.

    Muhammad was apparently unhappy that Leah talked about funding his progress on the “Bridge to Total Freedom.” Five days after the show aired, he told an assembled crowd at the Muhammad Mosque No. 27 in Los Angeles that Remini had lied about him and about Minister Louis Farrakhan.

    He also said her show had an ulterior motive: “Now she’s talking against the church, because the Jews want to use that against the Nation.”

    You’ll see some other things in these two segments from the talk that should make you wince. Muhammad is quite a piece of work.

    Continued at
  22. Tony Ortega has a major story on this subject.

    Nation of Islam takes a bigoted swipe at Leah Remini and the ‘Jews’ behind her show

    * * * * * BEGIN EXCERPT * * * * *

    [Tony] Muhammad was apparently unhappy that Leah talked about funding his progress on the “Bridge to Total Freedom.” Five days after the show aired, he told an assembled crowd at the Muhammad Mosque No. 27 in Los Angeles that Remini had lied about him and about Minister Louis Farrakhan.

    He also said her show had an ulterior motive: “Now she’s talking against the church, because the Jews want to use that against the Nation.”

    You’ll see some other things in these two segments from the talk that should make you wince. Muhammad is quite a piece of work.

    * * * * * END EXCERPT * * * * *
  23. The Wrong Guy Member

    Tonight, Leah Remini exposes the crazy grift of Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs’

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, January 1, 2019


    Ideal Orgs have opened in places as far-flung as Tokyo, Budapest, Bogotá, and Tel Aviv. About half, 30, are located here in the United States. We’ve covered their grand openings closely for years, and we’ve also watched carefully all of the extreme fundraising events that were required to pay for them.

    Tonight on Scientology and the Aftermath, Leah Remini and Mike Rinder provide some terrific inside information that shows just how crazy the Ideal Org fundraising obsession is, and what a grift of Scientology’s own members.

    Starring in the episode is Bert Schippers, who with his wife Lynne Hoverson provided about $300,000 of the Seattle Ideal Org’s funding. Lynne and Bert sued the church after they were expelled, trying to get back money they still had on account, and their ordeal appeared in the Tampa Bay Times. At the Voice, we wrote about an odd wrinkle in their legal case.

    Bert does a great job explaining how relentless the fundraising is, and how much is promised to members that never materializes. The details are going to make your skin crawl.

    We were also thrilled to see Paul Burkhart on the episode. As we explained in our own story about Paul from 2016, he was in a really unique position in the heart of Scientology’s upper management. And because his job was so specific — space planning for the new buildings — he tended to escape a lot of the drama roiling Scientology’s executive ranks. It also meant that there were few people in the world who know more about the Ideal Orgs and what went into them.

    The dollar amounts he quotes made our jaw drop. It’s incredible what David Miscavige is spending on these projects, raised locally in some places but not in others.

    But what do all of the Ideal Orgs have in common? Burkhart said he personally visited “15 to 20” of them. And he saw the same thing at every one: they’re empty.

    More at
  24. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology smears ‘Aftermath’ guest with info from his supposedly confidential files

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, January 2, 2019


    Last night’s Scientology and the Aftermath episode started out with a message about how the show, for a change, had not received a last-minute threat letter to A&E about its contents.

    Instead, Scientology took a swipe at the episode’s guests, Bert Schippers and Paul Burkhart, on a website the church uses to attack Leah Remini, Mike Rinder, A&E executives, and the people who appear on Leah’s show.

    Last night’s broadside from the church started out with the usual litany against Mike Rinder, and went after an A&E executive for no apparent reason. Then it turned its attention to Burkhart, who spent years as Scientology’s space planner for new building projects.

    We wrote about Burkhart’s career in Scientology in 2016, and how he was in a really unique position. Although very high up in the organization, because his particular job was so singular he largely escaped all the chaos that tended to disrupt Scientology’s upper Sea Org ranks. And as he explained on the show last night he was in a perfect position to see how much David Miscavige is spending on his Ideal Org obsession.

    Burkhart had access to internal enrollment documents, and he told us that worldwide membership has fallen, in his estimation, to fewer than 20,000 worldwide. It was obvious to him that Scientology was a failed enterprise, and in August 2013 he left.

    So on its attack website last night, Scientology did what it always does and claimed that Burkhart was a rotten employee who was bad at his job and had to be kicked out, and that he didn’t leave of his own accord.

    “The work accusations are untrue and fall apart given that I quit — I was not fired,” Burkhart told us last night. “At that time, I was the longest serving staff member in the International Landlord Office. I held many positions, from draftsman to the head of planning.”

    This is the most common of Scientology’s smears, that a defector had to be removed because they were not worthy. But Burhkart points out how specious that is.

    “Like most of the high-ranking ex-staff that are smeared after they leave, the answer to that accusation is simply this: If someone was so bad, how did they rise so high in the ranks and stay there so long?”

    (The website also took a halfhearted swipe at Schippers, referring to the lawsuit that he and his wife Lynne Hoverson filed against the church in 2011. Bert told us it didn’t describe the litigation correctly at all, and he marveled at its presentation. “The writing is so childish!”)

    After the standard attack on Burkhart, we were surprised that Scientology then included a nasty paragraph that even to our eyes, as an outsider, was pretty obviously information that Burkhart might have divulged in a confessional counseling session.

    Continued at
  25. The Wrong Guy Member

    Tiponi Grey’s daughter: She knew her life might end at any time

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker
  26. The Wrong Guy Member

    Leah Remini Winning Against Church Of Scientology As Show Honored For Investigations Into Abuses Of Power

    By Lucille Barilla, The Inquisitr, January 7, 2019


    Actress and activist Leah Remini could very well be winning in her battle against the Church of Scientology as the A&E series she hosts with former church higher-up Mike Rinder has been honored with yet another television award nomination.

    The Producers Guild unveiled their 2019 award nominations and Scientology and the Aftermath was honored for its work in uncovering the church’s alleged abuses of power, as reported by Deadline.

    As a producer of Scientology and the Aftermath, Remini will be up against the following series to win an award in the category of Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television:


    Although Remini might have a tough time winning against a posthumous honor that could be potentially given to the late Anthony Bourdain’s CNN series, she still might have a shot at the honor for her continued investigations into the practices of the Church of Scientology.

    The show has been nominated for seven awards thus far by the following organizations: Primetime Emmy, American Cinema Editors, International Documentary Association, Online Film & Television Association, PGA Awards, and the Television Critics Association, per IMDB.

    More at
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  27. The Wrong Guy Member

    Tonight, Leah Remini makes it clear how much Scientology worships money above all else

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, January 8, 2019


    Is it already time for Leah Remini’s second episode of 2019? For some reason we’re still a little discombobulated after the holidays, and this episode came up on us awfully quick. Well, the tree is put away, the decorations are back in the boxes, and Leah is here to get us all enraged again!

    In this special episode, Leah and Mike talk to a panel of people who have been ripped off, swindled, physically harmed — and who were also part of the extortion machine going on in Scientology.

    You wanted Leah to follow the money? This week she’s following the money.

    We are introduced to a young couple who weren’t in Scientology long, but wow, were they messed with financially. We really felt for this young man, who looked like it was painful for him to recount just how badly he and his wife were abused by Scientology’s “registrars,” or “regges,” the people whose job it is to get you to fork over tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for future courses that might take you years to complete (if you complete them at all).

    We also meet a former Sea Org worker who came permanently scarred by his experience. But after being maimed, he walked away and was saddled with a “Freeloader’s Debt,” asking him to pay for what was essentially his job training (such as it was).

    (You might remember that Sunny Pereira provided us with documentation of the time when she also was asked to pay for job training after she walked away from her job. It’s completely illegal, of course, but then Scientology seems to get away with everything.)

    The other two people on the panel are figures you’ll recognize from here at the Underground Bunker. Last year Heather Ruggeri told us about her harrowing experience in the Sea Org which included being forced to have an abortion. On tonight’s episode, she relates how her mother was so financially suckered by the church it’s affecting her ability to make a living even after she left.

    And there’s also Carol Nyburg, a person we’ve written about several times before, a woman who was well known at the Flag Land Base for her hospitality even though she was also a registrar. Carol doesn’t spare herself as she talks about how vampiric Scientology regges could be, and how she was taught never to take no for an answer.

    “It was your duty to invade people’s privacy,” she says. “You were taught they have the money. Don’t let them tell you that they don’t.”

    And several times, Mike and Leah have to point out that all of the extreme things their guests had been through — the physical maiming, the losing a house, Carol’s all night book-selling binges — are all bog-standard activities and happenings in Scientology that are going on right now.

    What is it going to take for law enforcement to see what exploitative practices these are for any business, and not just something calling itself a church?

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  28. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology slimes ‘Aftermath’ guest with its favorite tactic: The P.O.W. video

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, January 9, 2019


    Just before last night’s Scientology and the Aftermath episode aired on A&E, the Church of Scientology posted a letter by spokeswoman Karin Pouw to the website it uses for attacking the show.

    Pouw’s letter took some fairly weak jabs at the episode’s featured guests — Mark and Stephanie Fladd, who lost a house after Mark paid $35,000 for a “Clear” package that he didn’t complete; Tyler Adams, who lost an eye working in Scientology’s Sea Org; Heather Ruggeri, whose mother had an inheritance sucked away through Scientology’s vampiric fundraising pressure; and Carol Nyburg, whose job it was to apply that kind of extortionate pressure.

    The letter may have been weak, but Scientology also included one of its slimiest strategies: what we usually call a “P.O.W. video,” recorded by a Scientology member who looks like they are talking with about as much genuine volition as a prisoner of war under the gun.

    In this case, it was Heather Ruggeri who won last night’s smear lottery. The video featured her sister, Jennifer Butler, a Sea Org employee who is an Ethics officer at Scientology’s secretive Int Base near Hemet, California.

    Here’s the full transcript of what Jennifer said:

    Continued at
  29. The Wrong Guy Member

    There's a related post in another thread:

    EXCLUSIVE: Scientology tells A&E it has ‘blood on its hands’ for murder in Australia

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker


    The Underground Bunker has obtained a copy of a letter that was sent by Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw to A&E network president Paul Buccieri, blaming the network for inciting the January 3 murder of Aaron Yeh, a 24-year-old worker at Scientology’s “Advanced Org” in a Sydney, Australia suburb.

    Pouw angrily blamed the network for inciting the murder, which she says the church warned would happen because it was airing Leah Remini’s series, Scientology and the Aftermath.

    “For years, A&E executives ignored our warnings that the series was inspiring bigotry and violence. You knew what you were doing. Your intent was to stir up hate and turn it into cash. Now somebody has been murdered. Your indifference and obsession with stirring hate underwrote his murder,” Pouw writes in the letter, and calls on the network to cancel the show.
  30. The Wrong Guy Member

    This is a duplicate post that's also in the Danny Masterson rape allegations investigated by LAPD thread, here:

    Leah Remini will air episode with Danny Masterson's accusers on February 18

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, January 15, 2019


    The Underground Bunker has learned that an episode of A&E’s Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath featuring Scientologist actor Danny Masterson’s accusers will air on February 18, more than a year after it was pulled over concerns by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.


    There is also a new “special” episode of Aftermath airing tonight. It features Marc and Claire Headley, Amy Scobee, and Jefferson Hawkins telling Leah and Mike fascinating tales from their lives as Sea Org executives confined to Scientology’s secretive international management compound, known as both Int Base and Gold Base, located near Hemet, California.

    More at
  31. The Wrong Guy Member

    Tonight, Leah Remini takes us into the incredible story of Scientology’s Clearwater takeover

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, January 22, 2019


    Scientology’s very sketchy history in the Florida city of Clearwater gets a nice going over in tonight’s episode of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.

    As Mike Rinder points out early in the episode, some of us may take for granted Scientology’s incredible history in the Gulf Coast town, but many viewers today may be completely unfamiliar with it.

    For Leah, it’s an emotional return to a city where she was a child Sea Org member, something she wrote about in her book, Troublemaker. She talks about living in a rat-infested hotel dorm room with eight other girls in the year 1984.

    Mike, who lives not far away, has his own emotional connection to Clearwater’s creepy downtown. In 2010, he learned from Tampa Bay Times reporter Joe Childs that his son had cancer. The next day Rinder and his (then) good friend Marty Rathbun went to the Fort Harrison Hotel, Scientology’s ground zero in town, but were not allowed inside to see Mike’s son Benjamin.

    And today, Scientology owns more property than ever in the creepy, lifeless downtown where you can catch glimpses of young Sea Org workers scurrying from one building to another.

    “I feel like I’m in this movie where the villain is winning forever,” Leah laments.

    Mike goes over the fascinating history of Scientology’s decision in 1975 to take over the city after L. Ron Hubbard and his “Sea Org” had spent eight years running Scientology from a ship in the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Caribbean.

    Once Clearwater was selected as its target, Hubbard had his operatives come in to the city and start buying up property under the fake name “United Churches of Florida.”

    One of the brave people who helped uncover that subterfuge and tried for years to fight the invasion was its then mayor, Gabe Cazares. (In 2017 we obtained the FBI file on Cazares, and it is an excellent supplement to tonight’s episode.)

    Helping Mike and Leah go over that history are three local residents: Filmmaker Mark Bunker, defense attorney Denis Devlaming, and attorney and magistrate Betsy Steg.

    The group tries to express just how insane it was for a “church” to use subterfuge to take over a town, and then the years of subsequent horrifying behavior it engaged in against people like Cazares. (There’s a great undercurrent to this episode. If you thought Scientology was bad now, it’s mind boggling to think about how much it’s been getting away with for so long.)

    The Aftermath team has come up with some great archival footage for this episode. From the 1982 Clearwater Hearings, for example, and a key moment from Ray Emmons explaining what we tell people all the time: Scientology goes unpunished because prosecutors are literally afraid to bring charges against it.

    Betsy gets some time to explain how much she has paid for one simple act of kindness, lending her rental home on the intracoastal for Mike Rinder and Christie Collbran to have their wedding in 2013.

    And after all that, we learn that next week, there’s even more on Clearwater coming, and two stories that define just about everything wrong with the Church of Scientology. We have a feeling it’s going to be epic.

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  32. The Wrong Guy Member

    Leah Remini's Scientology show puts Clearwater in national spotlight

    By Tracey McManus, Tampa Bay Times, January 23, 2019


    There’s no debate that the Church of Scientology’s international spiritual headquarters is downtown’s most dominating presence.

    It’s become the largest landowner with at least $245 million worth of property. Its seven story, 300,000 square-foot Flag Building towers over Fort Harrison Avenue and uniformed Sea Org staff members hustle daily between buildings and off buses.

    But on Tuesday evening, worldwide viewers of A&E’s Emmy Award winning show Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath got the darkest analysis of what that legacy and presence means for the city.

    “Today Scientology has almost achieved its objective of complete subjugation of downtown Clearwater, of the city officials, of taking over vast tracts of the city and turning it into the first Scientology city on Earth,” Mike Rinder, a longtime Scientology spokesman who defected in 2007, said on the show, the eighth episode of the series’ third season.

    On Wednesday, current and former officials pushed back on the depiction that downtown is lost and that inaction by elected officials enabled a takeover.

    “Clearwater is more than the Church of Scientology,” said Mayor George Cretekos, who did not watch the episode or any of the series, which has chronicled stories of alleged physical and sexual abuse, financial exploitation and a religion that operates like a business.

    Scientology spokesman Ben Shaw did not respond to a request for comment but an online church statement said Remini is “spreading provable lies which generate hate, bigotry and violence.”

    Cretekos said there is also a thriving technology sector downtown, the Imagine Clearwater redevelopment plan to overhaul 66 waterfront acres adjacent to the downtown core and a growing commercial sector on U.S. 19 that defines the city.

    Rinder and Remini were joined by activist and videographer Mark Bunker, Clearwater lawyer Denis deVlaming and former assistant Pinellas County attorney Betsy Steg to deliver a crash course in Clearwater history, from the church’s hostile arrival in 1975 up to its continued accumulation of downtown real estate today.

    They chronicled the early years of Scientology’s arrival under a false name and its smear campaign against then-Mayor Gabe Cazares and others, which was exposed in a series of investigative stories that won the St. Petersburg Times, now the Tampa Bay Times, a Pulitzer Prize in 1980.

    The group discussed the Clearwater hearings of 1982, where the City Commission interviewed various witnesses about allegations the church was a cult. In 1983, Clearwater Police Lt. Ray Emmons delivered a 10-volume report that declared Scientology a criminal money-making scheme.

    The hearings led to a 1983 ordinance that allowed the city to examine finances of Scientology and other churches. But Scientology sued for discrimination, and a judge ruled the ordinance unconstitutional in 1993.
    Rinder described that ruling as the point the city decided “this is not a fight we can ever win and crawled into a hole.”

    City Council member Hoyt Hamilton denied city officials have bowed to Scientology. Elected officials cannot prohibit a religious organization from buying property or operating its international headquarters in Clearwater, he said.

    “To make it sound like the local elected officials are just acquiescing to Scientology, nothing could be further from the truth,” said Hamilton, who is in his fourth term on the council since an appointment in 2001. “We have to play the hand we’re dealt with. The only people that can deal me a better hand than what we have is the federal government. That’s not something the city of Clearwater has the resources to do. The federal government gave them their tax exempt status. The federal government is the only one that can take it away. We can’t do anything to change that.”

    The episode showed Rinder and Remini driving past church buildings on Fort Harrison Avenue noting empty storefronts in the downtown core and the presence of uniformed Sea Org workforce members.

    They recapped how Scientology’s alleged Fair Game policy to attack and destroy critics continues today, citing the 2017 public campaign against Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO David Yates’ ethics after he declined Scientology leader David Miscavige’s offer to buy a vacant downtown lot. The aquarium sold the 1.4 acre lot to the city for $4.25 million, passing up Miscavige’s $15 million bid.

    “Like everybody else around here, I don’t like being in downtown Clearwater much,” Rinder said on Tuesday’s show. “Just because the whole place is creepy. It’s empty. It feels like people are watching you.”

    Frank Hibbard, who served as mayor from 2005 to 2012, said he was unable to watch the episode Tuesday because of a widely reported Spectrum outage that occurred at the beginning of the 9 p.m. airing. Joe Durkin, spokesman for Spectrum’s parent company Charter Communications said “a fiber cut from an unaffiliated third party impacted our TV services on some channels last night and we quickly restored service.”

    But Hibbard said he disagrees with Rinder’s statement that Scientology has almost achieved “a complete subjugation of downtown Clearwater.”

    While the church owns significant real estate, there are still businesses and employees “that have nothing to do with Scientology.”

    “I’m looking out my window, I’m looking at the Presbyterian church, I’m looking at City Hall, I’m looking at the county building,” Hibbard said from his financial advisory office in One Clearwater Tower.

    “Tourists that come to Clearwater Beach for instance wouldn’t even know Scientology exists unless they came to downtown or they looked to their right as they were driving on Cleveland Street and happened to catch a glimpse of the Super Power building and understand what it is.”

    There is not consistent foot traffic because there is currently no array of retail and restaurants. It’s “a chicken or the egg” scenario, however, whether the void is because of Scientology’s presence or whether Scientology’s presence is able to dominate because there is no other draw for the general public, he said.

    Contact Tracey McManus at or (727) 445-4151. Follow @TroMcManus.

  33. The Wrong Guy Member

    Tonight, Leah Remini revisits Scientology’s most shameful scandals in its Florida ‘mecca’

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, January 29, 2019


    According to last week’s episode of Scientology and the Aftermath, tonight Leah Remini and Mike Rinder will be taking on one of the most heartbreaking of Scientology’s scandals, the 1995 death of church member Lisa McPherson.

    In 2015, to mark 20 years since that tragic series of events, we published three weeks of stories, intended to go deep into the incidents that led up to and included Lisa’s 17-day fatal stay at the Fort Harrison Hotel, posting the stories in real time. If you have time, you might go over those stories before tonight’s episode so that you have background on key facts. For example…

    — How important it was that Scientology leader David Miscavige had become personally involved in supervising Lisa’s auditing, so when she had a mental breakdown, it would have reflected badly on Miscavige’s judgment. For Miscavige’s own reputation, it was best for McPherson to disappear rather than get the treatment she deserved.

    — How caretakers, blinded by their adherence to L. Ron Hubbard’s quack treatment of mental illness, essentially watched a woman die of thirst while prevented from saying a word to her.

    It’s a stunning case of criminal neglect that goes to the heart of what makes Scientology dangerous. And it engendered a strong reaction at the time, incuding the involvement of millionaire Bob Minton, who funded an effort to raise awareness of McPherson’s fate.

    Minton’s project, the Lisa McPherson Trust, leased a storefront in what is now a building owned by Scientology, and held numerous demonstrations outside the Fort Harrison Hotel that, in those days, were aggressively countered by Scientologist operatives — including OSA director Mike Rinder.

    We’re very much looking forward to seeing Rinder, today a subject himself of aggressive OSA tactics now that he’s an outspoken defector, talking over those heady days in the late 1990s with former LMT member Mark Bunker. It should make for some excellent television.

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  34. The Wrong Guy Member

    Two must-reads on Mike Rinder's site:

    Clearwater Officials: “Nothing To See Here”

    Mr. Mayor and City Council: Who are you waiting for to come and save your city for you while you try to convince yourselves and everyone else it doesn’t need saving?

    Clearwater and How Scientology Buys Influence

    A few nights ago, the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce held their annual gala. You might be surprised to learn that scientology is one of its sponsors.
  35. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology targets Disney with anti-‘Aftermath’ rally, attendees number in the tens

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, January 30, 2019


    Monday night, a group calling itself the “Los Angeles Faith Coalition” sent out notices that it was going to have an “emergency press conference” and protest to be held outside of Disney’s studios in Burbank on Tuesday afternoon.

    According to its notice, the Coalition was going to hold a demonstration to convince Disney that its subsidiary the A&E television network should stop airing Leah Remini’s show, Scientology and the Aftermath, because airing the series was resulting in “hate crimes and fatalities in houses of worship across faiths.”

    You will probably not be surprised to learn that if you check the Coalition’s website, it’s owned by the Church of Scientology’s Valley Ideal Org in North Hollywood.

    So, Scientology’s fake “interfaith” group held its hastily-arranged protest yesterday, and we were fortunate that Jeffrey Augustine decided to drive down and give it a look.

    “The crowd was underwhelming,” Jeffrey said, and he wasn’t kidding. Photos show that the number of attendees was in the low tens.

    “It was billed as a press conference. But there were no reporters, and they took no questions. It was a staged event that tried to paint Scientology as a civil rights leader,” Jeff added. “One speaker complained that Disney CEO Bob Iger would not respond to Scientology. But Aftermath always extends an invitation to Scientology to appear on the show. It refuses.

    “This was OSA’s attempt to bypass A&E and try to get to Iger directly,” he said, referring to Scientology’s spy wing, the Office of Special Affairs. “But the event did not draw one single Disney employee. It was held on the front lawn of the Redeemer Church which is directly across from Disney Studio’s main entrance.”

    Jeffrey said that despite the small size of the event, he saw about 15 Burbank police officers on the scene. Apparently, Scientology was expecting some trouble.

    At one point, one of the church executives came to speak to him.

    “Janet Weiland came up and spoke to me. She wanted to know who I was and I told her. She said ‘Oh you’re that Jeff.’ Then she walked off.”

    Jeffrey also saw Ed Parkin, but the Stand League leader avoided him.

    “They sang ‘It’s a Small World After All,” and the pastor said, ‘What would Mickey do?’ And they finished by singing ‘We Shall Overcome.'”

    A crew from Scientology Media Productions dutifully filmed the event, but Jeffrey says he didn’t see any other reporters.

    Continued at
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  36. The Wrong Guy Member

    Former members of the Lisa McPherson Trust reflect on Tuesday’s ‘Aftermath’ episode

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, January 31, 2019


    Tuesday night’s Scientology and the Aftermath episode was another stunner, and contained surprises even for some of us jaded, longtime Scientology Watchers.

    Sure, many of us knew a lot about the terrible Lisa McPherson story, and that her 1995 death spawned a reaction in the form of years of protests in Clearwater, Florida put on by the Lisa McPherson Trust, a feisty organization funded by a Boston businessman, Bob Minton. And we knew that Minton was put under such a ferocious “Fair Game” campaign by Scientology’s secret police, the Office of Special Affairs, he ended up switching sides before his untimely death of a heart attack in 2010.

    But Leah Remini’s costar, and former head of OSA, Mike Rinder, stunned us with details about the operation that he personally oversaw against Minton, and offered his apologies for, he admitted, destroying the man. It made for amazing television.

    And we figured the people who lived it might have some interesting things to say about the episode. So we asked former LMT employees like Robert Peterson, Jeff Jacobsen, Jesse Prince, Mark Bunker (who appeared in the episode) and also McPherson family attorney Ken Dandar.

    Continued at
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  37. The Wrong Guy Member

    Why I'm Nominating Leah Remini For a Profiles In Courage Award

    By Kira Davis, Townhall, February 1, 2019


    I’m nominating Leah Remini for this year’s John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Let me tell you why.

    For as long as I can remember I have been obsessed with the “religion” of Scientology. As a child I was a big fan of L. Ron Hubbard’s science fiction writing. My mom used to get me a subscription to Isaac Asimov’s monthly sci-fi publication and often there were short stories from Hubbard.

    One day I mistakenly checked out his Scientology handbook “Dianetics” and while I was grossly disappointed to discover it was not the sci-fi romp I’d hoped for, it did launch my lifelong obsession with the weirdness that is Scientology.

    By the time Leah Remini’s very public denouncement of her former religion came about I had probably seen or read nearly every available documentary or publication challenging the Church of Scientology (COS).

    This is where I need to stop for a moment and offer Ms. Remini a sincere apology. I don’t know if she reads much of her press, but even still I owe her this much. When Remini first started making the rounds on the talk show circuit and wrote a book about her split from COS, I thought perhaps it was a publicity play; an actress was looking for some attention and trading on her involvement in a sketchy cult to get it. Having now seen every episode, outtake and trailer from her award-winning show Scientology and the Aftermath I now have no doubt she is 100% serious and sincere in her desire to see the vicious COS dismantled for good.

    And vicious is the right word to describe COS. You don’t have to look very far to learn about the tactics they’ve used to control their members and destroy their detractors. Remini’s own show spends a lot of time highlighting and talking to people who have been harassed, followed, threatened and litigated into submission by COS - including her faithful friend and co-SP (suppressed person) Mike Rinder, a former big-wig in Scientology.

    Episode after episode Rinder and Remini profile horrific stories of brainwashing and forced imprisonment, child labor and forced abortions, smear campaigns and aggressive litigation against detractors. Many of the activities COS has been accused of are definitely illegal. There are heart wrenching stories of children being separated from parents and forced to work in what are essentially labor camps.

    There are stories of people who have had to flee the COS compound in the dead of night, in the trunk of a car, or sometimes just deliberately causing a public scene so the police have to arrest them and take them into custody.

    Others have lost their livelihood and businesses to the egregious litigiousness of COS. In fact, the Church of Scientology can call themselves a “church” because they incessantly and scandalously harassed and sued individual IRS agents for years until they agreed to push through the COS application for tax-exempt status just to make it all go away.

    When Hubbard decided he wanted an entire town for his organization, COS began a methodically calculated plan to take over Clearwater, Florida. This plan reached full steam after they were able to successfully slander and smear (the late) mayor Gabriel “Gabe” Cazares who fought for years to warn Clearwater and America about the nefarious intentions of the cult.

    The COS knows no boundaries when it comes to destroying the lives of their critics. They have no shame, seemingly unlimited resources and are protected by their tax-exempt status by the very government that is tasked with protecting its citizens from abusers and predators.

    Having now seen three seasons of Remini’s shows and after sitting through jaw-dropping revelation after jaw-dropping revelation I can only imagine the depth of ugliness and pure evil being hurled at the King of Queens actress on a daily basis. She touches on it in the show but it can’t possibly begin to cover what she’s going through legally and emotionally.

    It is for this reason that I believe Leah Remini should receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award this year. The organization’s website defines the award as one that “recognizes a public official (or officials) at the federal, state, or local level whose actions demonstrate the qualities of politically courageous leadership in the spirit of Profiles in Courage, President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, which recounts the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers by embracing unpopular positions for the greater good.”

    While the award is particularly set aside for public officials, it has in the past been given to those outside elected office including “the people of Egypt” and Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee. It’s also worth noting that Christine Blasey Ford has been mentioned for this year’s award.

    Scientology has demonstrated the ability to destroy careers and lives. They are not some funny little sci-fi cult with a deranged leader. They are dangerous and loathsome. They are criminal and their criminality has been aided by both local and federal governments. Remini isn’t just taking on this behemoth organization and all that entails, she’s taking the government to task. One can only imagine the legal fees she’s amassed thus far trying to protect herself and her family. Yet, she continues on. For the greater good.

    Even though Scientology reaches far enough to affect her acting career, even though she knows what it can do to her family, even though she knows she will be putting a target on her back perhaps for the rest of her life, she is still marching forward and loudly proclaiming the dangers of this cult that has been publicly tolerated for far too long.

    Remini isn’t the lone voice out there crying for people to pay attention, but she has thus far been one of the most effective and given the enormous pressures she’s up against in the name of justice, I think she is an excellent nominee for the Profiles in Courage Award. If the award is about “politically courageous leadership” then Remini’s struggle to strip Scientology of its tax-exempt status and hold it account for its many crimes against humanity is the embodiment of this award. If the nominating committee has any cojones they’ll agree.

  38. The Wrong Guy Member

    Lying pigs will be lying pigs. Anyone who still trusts them hasn't been paying attention.

    After critical ‘Aftermath’ episodes, Clearwater police chief denies favoring Scientology

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, February 3, 2019


    We’re going to guess that the Clearwater Police Department was inundated with angry calls and messages from the public after the last two episodes of Leah Remini’s A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath. How else to explain the extraordinary step that Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter took yesterday, posting a video to the department’s Facebook page to explain how his force was being unfairly criticized.

    [ - read the comments. ]

    Slaughter became chief in 2014 and has been with the department since 1992, so he knows quite well the history of Scientology’s takeover of downtown Clearwater. But he apparently didn’t appreciate the blowback he’s been getting after Tuesday night’s episode, which showed Remini, her costar Mike Rinder, and guest Mark Bunker having a seat on a park bench on land owned by the church.

    Six Clearwater police officers showed up, brandishing a 1999 court order that they said prevented Bunker from being on church property. But Rinder explained to them that the 1999 injunction actually governed another area, and that they weren’t in violation of it. They agreed to move to the public sidewalk, but representatives of the church never showed up after making the call.

    As Rinder had predicted, it was the kind of overkill that the Clearwater police are known for when Scientology calls. But Chief Slaughter didn’t like that interpretation, and decided to educate the public about how his officers are merely caught in the middle of a long dispute. Here’s the video and a full transcript:

    Hello, I’m Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter. I began my career with the department in 1992. I’ve been a street cop, a detective, and served in various leadership roles before I was promoted to police chief in 2014.

    As a Clearwater resident and the police chief of this city, I wanted to talk to you about a long-standing matter affecting our department and community. For years, the Clearwater Police Department has been thrust into the middle of a debate between a controversial religion and its critics — without a voice in the matter.

    Scientology’s hub of activity is in a portion of downtown Clearwater occupying approximately half a square mile in our 36 square-mile city. Not one of our on-duty officers is assigned to or stationed at any Scientology property.

    The Clearwater Police Department received more than 78,000 calls for service in 2018 with approximately 109 originating from Scientology staff or security. This equates to approximately one tenth of one percent of all calls for service.

    We are obligated to respond to all calls for service, regardless of religious affiliation of the caller and to protect free for all citizens regardless of content. Consistent with other law enforcement organizations, the Clearwater Police Department has an extra-duty program for a wide variety of businesses and religious entities to hire off-duty officers.

    The primary purpose of extra-duty officers is to provide additional services to the community with security, crowd control, and traffic-related details. These programs are not funded by the taxpayers, and most importantly, do not draw from the on-duty resources paid for by the taxpayers. Only 3.4 percent of the extra-duty assignments involve Scientology. All officers serving on an extra-duty shift are bound by oath to remain impartial and operate under the policies and procedures of the Clearwater Police Department.

    Being a recognized religious entity by the federal government, Scientology is entitled to contract for the same services as any other religious organization or business. The Police Department does not have the ability to stop providing extra-duty services to one religious organization without denying the same service to all federally recognized religious entities.

    Law enforcement officers throughout the country swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. This includes the First Amendment which covers freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Clearwater police officers swear to uphold the same.

    Our hope is that everyone watching this video will recognize that we don’t get to pick and choose whom we protect and serve, and nor should we. We are bound by the Constitution to answer all calls for service and deliver those services in a fair and impartial manner. The Clearwater Police Department has always investigated all crimes, in a fair and impartial manner. The Clearwater Police Department has always investigated all crimes, without passion or prejudice, regardless of who the victim or suspect is. And, we will continue to do so. We will not be used as instruments to promote anyone or any organization’s agenda. Our officers are human beings who work a hazardous job that exposes them to human tragedy on a regular basis.

    The mere suggestion that our officers exist to serve any religious organization, specifically Scientology is patently false and an affront to our officers and the great community we serve. To see them criticized and vilified for upholding the U.S. Constitution, all while doing their best to interpret complex legal orders, confusing complaints, and to mediate disputes between constitutionally protected activities of religion, speech, and assembly is not only unfair but done in the absence of perspective. Hopefully, we provided you perspective today.

    Whether you wish us well or ill, the Clearwater Police Department will continue to protect every citizen and investigate every crime, and serve our community with the powers granted to us by the Constitution and criminal justice system.

    Thank you.

    While we appreciate the police chief’s position, we were fairly stunned that he characterized the situation as a dispute between the church and its critics.

    Anyone who has followed our coverage, and the coverage by the Tampa Bay Times, the work by Lawrence Wright, and so many others, would know that the ongoing crisis we’ve been covering is a dispute between Scientology and its own members.

    We’ll give Chief Slaughter a recent example.

    When Katrina Reyes came to Clearwater with her mother from Siberia, she signed a billion-year contract, promising to work for Scientology day and night for the rest of her natural life. Her passport was taken away, and she was put on a schedule of 365-days-a-year work.

    She was 11 years old.

    That’s what is happening in your city, Chief Slaughter.

    Seven years after she had arrived in Clearwater, Katrina was allowed to go home to visit family. While she was in Siberia, the night before she returned to Florida, she suspected that she had been drugged and raped by two men. However, when she asked her supervisors at the Flag Land Base permission to get medical attention and to find out if she’d been impregnated, instead she was punished. Because in Scientology, a rape victim is always at fault.

    That’s what is happening in your city, Chief Slaughter.

    When Katrina objected to the way she was treated, she left the Sea Org. She was then told that she could no longer live and work in Clearwater, and she was eventually “declared” a “suppressive person” so she could never see her mother again, who still works in Clearwater at the Flag Land Base and has never seen Katrina’s son, her grandson.

    That’s what is happening in your city, Chief Slaughter.

    A few years ago, Katrina and her husband tried to see her mother at the Flag Land Base, and when they approached the building where she worked, Scientologists called the police. Chief Slaughter’s men were quickly on the scene and interrogated Katrina and her husband.

    At one point, Katrina realized the Clearwater officers had taken her drivers license and had given it to the Scientology security officers, who can be seen in this image taking down her personal information.

    <photo snipped>

    Katrina tells us she was stunned. The officers hadn’t told her they were going to turn over her ID card to the Scientologist guards. They simply did it, and Katrina says it was clear that she was facing a force that worked hand in glove with the church.

    This was not a “critic” of the church. This was not a “protest.” This was a woman trying to see her mother, who is being kept from her by the Church of Scientology while working in the conditions of indentured servitude, her passport kept from her, working 365 days a year, 112 hours a week, for pennies an hour.

    That is what is happening in your city, Chief Slaughter.

    You might want to look into it.

    Source, with open comments:

    Clearwater police chief responds to claims about department's close relationship with Scientology

    By Grady Trimble, WTSP, February 3, 2019


    A television docuseries is raising questions about the police department's relationship with the Church of Scientology. The show has led the Clearwater police chief to try to clear up the controversy.

    For decades, critics of Scientology have argued the church has taken over downtown Clearwater. In the latest episode of the docuseries, "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath," the former Scientologist goes even further.

    An interview subject on the show claims the church is friendly with the police department in the city where it has its headquarters. The guest even claims off-duty officers hired by the church side with its members.

    In one scene of the episode, Remini and others are sitting at a park in downtown Clearwater, which is owned by the Church of Scientology. Several police officers come up to them and tell them the church called and wants them off its property. That's when Remini says, "The church is using the Clearwater Police Department."

    “I am a critic of the way in which the church handles critics,” long-time Clearwater attorney Denis deVlaming said.

    deVlaming is featured in the episode. In an interview with 10News, he said the church does try to win over police, and when officers are picking up extra shifts, paid for by the church, it's hard to stay impartial.

    “Their decision is: do I go with those that are paying my check in that instance or not? And I think there's a built-in conflict of interest,” he explained.

    Continued at
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  39. The Wrong Guy Member

    Tonight, Leah Remini looks at Scientology’s ultimate prize: The protections of tax exemption

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, February 5, 2019


    We’re very interested to see what Leah finds out tonight in a new episode of Scientology and the Aftermath from Boston University School of Law professor Jay Wexler. Does he think there’s a way to get the IRS to revisit that 1993 decision?
    • Like Like x 2
  40. Incredulicide Member

    Quoting a comment by Missionary Kid from
    "A fake letter from a fake organization that's a front group for a fake religion."

    An enterprising brand marketer in Arizona, Robin Athlyn Thompson, was concerned that USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture would allow its brand to be used in this manner, and she inquired about it with her public relations counterparts at the university.
    She informed Leah Remini that she received this stunning reply from USC:

    The Center for Religion and Civic Culture put out its own statement, saying that the Center and Dr. Murray take no position on Disney’s programming…
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