For more information please see these stories at The Underground Bunker...
2018-09-20, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
This week I am doing a short book review of the latest book published by a former Scientologist and Sea Org member about his experience. This time, the book is from none other than Jesse Prince, arguably the highest level Sea Org member who has ever escaped and gone on to tell his tale.
Jesse's book is here
This photo shows the day my mom disconnected from me.
My parents literally had a shotgun wedding. My mom was pregnant with my brother, my dad refused to marry her. My grandmother forced them to marry, literally, with a shotgun. Yeah, that's Texas for you.
My mom became a Scientologist at the Austin Org in 1969. She had my brother in early 1970, then she was pregnant with me while she was on staff there. She had not told me much about this time period, but she did tell me two things: She always wanted a daughter and had decided that she would keep having kids until she had a daughter (There is just my older brother and myself, her two kids), and she also told me that I made her miss Yvonne Jentzsch's speech (my fault) because she went into labor with me the night that Yvonne was at the Austin Org speaking.
The members of Scientology's most elite organization, the Sea Organization, work 90+ hour weeks. For decades, their pay was $50 per week and last year was increased to $100 per week. They do get room & board for free.
I am just going to state the facts here and not going to voice any other opinion than this: If you encounter anyone in your vicinity that wants to join an organization like this, have them read this story.
95-Hour Week On Scientology's Cruise Ship
As video Hermansson provided to the New York Times shows, he got one of the group's highest-ranking members — Alt-Right Corporation board member Jason Reza Jorjani — to admit his "final solution" for minorities.
"It's gonna end with the expulsion of the majority of the migrants, including [Muslim] citizens," Jorjani told an undercover Hermansson at a pub near the Empire State Building in New York City. "It's gonna end with concentration camps and expulsions and war at the cost of a few hundred million people."
"We will have a Europe, in 2050, where the bank notes have Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander the Great," he continued. "And Hitler will be seen like that: like Napoleon, like Alexander, not like some weird monster who is unique in his own category — no, he is just going to be seen as a great European leader."
Karen Schless Pressley is the former Commanding Officer of the Scientology Celebrity Centre. In this interview she discusses how she and her then husband -- the composers Peter Schless -- became Scientologists and later joined the Sea Org. Karen fascinatingly discusses the lure of Scientology for celebrities in terms of co-dependency. In my view, this is a remarkably insightful description. Karen's new book "Escaping Scientology: An Insider's True Story: My Journey With the Cult of Celebrity Spirituality, Greed and Power " is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Escaping-Scien...
Back in the spring of 2015, your proprietor and Mike Rinder sat down with Daily Beast writer Marlow Stern as part of the publicity on Alex Gibney's film, Going Clear. During the interview, Stern said that Will Smith was a Scientologist, and the two of us both corrected him — it wasn't true.
That assertion caused a bit of a media storm, but we had really good sources on this, and we still believe it to this day — while Will Smith had dabbled in Scientology and had at one time financed a Scientology "Study Tech" elementary school, by 2015 he was no longer involved in it at all.
In a piece of our own at that time, we explained that while Will had only ever been a dabbler, it was his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who was the real dedicated Scientologist in the family.
2017-09-20, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Tonight's episode addressed another subject we get a LOT of questions about. Celebrities and scientology.
And of course with the controversy over Elisabeth Moss's Emmy win for her portrayal of the victim of an oppressive system that controls every aspect of people's lives when she is a scientologist, and then Nicole Kidman's acknowledgement of the unconditional love from her 2 daughters with Keith Urban, while not mentioning the two children she adopted with Tom Cruise, there is heightened interest in the subject.
I must say, because I do not feel we were really able to communicate this well enough in the show — Paul Haggis is a hero of mine. Not only because he paved the way for so much that has followed by standing up and speaking out, not only because he is one of the smartest, kindest, most articulate and all-around best people I know, but also because he truly puts his money where his mouth is. He tirelessly works to help the underprivileged and impoverished. He was working to help children in Haiti LONG before natural disasters hit the front page and a few VM's in yellow t-shirts arrived for photo ops. And he continues to work there today long after the yellow t-shirts have vanished entirely. He and his foundation built an actual school - they didn't hand out some booklets or give a few touch assists. And this is just one small part of the work he does. He isn't presented trophies for this. There is no video made of his great works like they do with IAS "Freedom Medal" winners. He does it because he cares. That is what makes him so admirable in my eyes.
The Sea Organization (many times referred to as Sea Org) is a religious order in Scientology. It is made up of the most dedicated Scientologists in the world. When someone joins the Sea Org, they sign a religious commitment (often referred to as Sea Org contract) for one billion years. It's called a commitment as it is not a legal contract, not legally enforceable.
The Sea Organization is a religious order similar to Tibetan monks. It is not legally incorporated or otherwise organized as a legal entity. Members of the Sea Org therefore are wholly responsible to the organization for which they work.
The Sea Org was started in 1967 as the Sea Project and once operated from a number of ships. It was formally started under its current name on 12 August 1967. It was started by L. Ron Hubbard to deliver the highest levels of Scientology Spiritual counseling and to supervise Church organizations around the world.
2016-09-20, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
You can always tell how much "entheta" is enturbulating the COB.
Efforts are redoubled to attack perceived threats to his good name and to flood the internets with "theta" about him.
"Public Enemy #1" at this time is Ron Miscavige. I assume Louis Theroux and Steve Cannane are soon to move up the rankings. But for the time being, Ron M retains the top spot and every possible avenue is being used trying to negate him and destroy his credibility.
(Burton, White, and Carrey)
A man named Mark Burton filed a wrongful death lawsuit yesterday in Los Angeles against comedian Jim Carrey, claiming that the actor should be held liable in last year's apparent suicide of a 30-year-old woman from Ireland named Cathriona White.
Cat White was Jim Carrey's on-again-off-again Scientologist girlfriend, and a suicide note she left behind suggested that she killed herself because she was distraught over Carrey breaking up with her. But she was also married to Burton, who is accusing Carrey of illegally obtaining prescription medicines under a fake name in order to supply them to Cat, who used them to end her life. Carrey has maintained that the medicines were stolen from him, and he didn't notice they were missing until it was too late. He expressed great distress at her death, and attended her funeral in Ireland. But Burton claims in his lawsuit that Carrey reneged on an agreement to help pay for the funeral's costs. Burton's attorney, Michael Avenatti, used Twitter yesterday to claim that Carrey's involvement in his former girlfriend's death is so suspicious, it warrants a criminal investigation by the Los Angeles County District Attorney.
DENTON, Texas, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Jason Lee has confirmed that he has left the Church of Scientology in a new interview about his life since moving to Denton, Texas.
Lee who had started practicing the religion in the early '90s, relocated his family including wife Ceren Alkac, their daughter Casper, 8, and son Sonny, 4, in 2015 in order to live a quieter lifestyle.
According to the actor, locally there had been rumors that he was looking to build a Scientology center in the area.
Jim Carrey says a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the estranged husband of his ex-girlfriend is a heartless attempt to exploit him and vowed to fight the case.
Mark Burton of Portland sued Carrey in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, accusing the actor of providing the prescription drugs his wife Cathriona White used to overdose in September 2015. The wrongful death lawsuit contends Carrey improperly obtained prescriptions for Ambien and the powerful opioid oxycodone under the alias Arthur King.
The suit accuses Carrey of giving White the medications days before she was found dead in one of Carrey's homes. White and Carrey dated in 2012 and were photographed together in May 2015.
Proving that Jim Carrey is responsible for his late girlfriend's death is not going to be easy for her estranged husband - but that doesn't mean he'll come out his wrongful death suit lawsuit empty handed.
Mark Burton, who was legally married to Carrey's late girlfriend Cathriona White at the time of her death, filed a complaint against the actor on Monday.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Burton's lawyer Michael Avenatti said he and Burton are asking for the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office to launch an investigation into White's death. "We look forward to the facts and evidence relating to Mr. Carrey's conduct and role in the death of Ms. White coming to light," Avenatti said.
We spoke to actor Jim Carrey's attorney Marty Singer today, who told us he was very interested in our morning story about Mark Burton, the man who is suing his client over Cathriona White's 2015 suicide.
Burton filed his lawsuit yesterday, claiming that Carrey obtained prescription medicines under a fake name so he could give them to White, his on-again-off-again girlfriend who had moved to Los Angeles from Ireland in 2009. She and Carrey began dating around March 2012 and broke up for the first time several months later. They had resumed dating in 2015, before breaking up again that September. On September 28, 2015, Cat White was found dead, having apparently killed herself with medications that Carrey procured under the name "Arthur King." Carrey maintains that she took the medicines without his knowledge, and he didn't notice they were missing until it was too late.
After White's death, L.A. Coroner Ed Winter shocked even Cat's close friends by revealing that she was married to a man named Mark Burton. This morning, we reported that Cat told a few close personal friends that the January 2013 marriage to Burton was a sham that was intended to fool immigration officials so she could stay in the country. Her friends say that Cat, who had met a family of Scientologists in Ireland before emigrating and had become involved in Scientology in Los Angeles, had asked several of her male Scientology friends if they would be willing to enter a fake marriage with her. She had even, in 2010, held a fake wedding with a fellow Scientologist in order to get photos to throw off immigration officials, but had changed her mind about that match. After her break-up with Carrey in 2012, she approached Burton, also a Scientologist, and they went to Las Vegas to get married and told very few of their friends.
2015-09-20, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The weekly show where I answer questions from viewers left in the comments section of my Q&A videos or sent to me by email at email@example.com. This week, the questions I answer are:
(1) I had heard of connections with the beginnings of Scientology and Dianetics with certain occult practices and that L. Ron Hubbard was interested in some occult subjects. Given that the internet can be an unreliable source of information on such topics are you able to shed a little more light on the matter? Also, thank you for creating content that is both informative and entertaining.
(2) L. Ron Hubbard said "man is a spiritual being." When you were a Scientologist what did that mean to you? Do you still believe it? Is it a testable proposition?
We're grateful to our source who has been supplying us rare looks at the Maiden Voyage celebration of 2006. As we've said previously, these videos are exceedingly tough to find, and it has been illuminating to see David Miscavige lead his "OT Summit" on Scientology's private cruise ship, the Freewinds, over successive nights that June. And now, we've save the best for last.
Yes, we have the final night of Maiden Voyage 2006, which featured the Silver Mullet himself, official church biographer Dan Sherman, telling a whopper of a tale about L. Ron Hubbard that we hope you find as enjoyable as we do!
We've marveled at Sherman's skills in the past. His yarns about Hubbard saving the world against an evil cabal of atomic scientists, presented at the LRH birthday event of 2012, is still one of our all-time favorite Scientology event videos ever.
A former close confidant of Keith Raniere, founder of the NXIVM corporation, claims top officials in the secretive organization used a Canadian investigative firm or other means to sift the financial records of six federal judges and U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., according to court records.
The former NXIVM insider, Kristin M. Keeffe, said that Seagrams heiress Clare W. Bronfman, who oversees NXIVM's operations, ordered the financial probes at the direction of Raniere, 55. The six judges whose financial records Keeffe alleges were analyzed have all presided over cases involving NXIVM or its perceived adversaries and critics.
The allegations by Keeffe, 45, are outlined in emails attributed to her that were filed recently in Albany County Court in a case involving Barbara J. Bouchey, a financial adviser and former NXIVM executive board member charged with hacking into the corporation's computer system. Bouchey has pleaded not guilty and is fighting the computer trespass charge, which her attorneys said is baseless.
Six months, 160 lawyers, and a full-page ad in the New York Times later, Sky Atlantic are finally airing Alex Gibney's controversial documentary, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.
The two-hour long film, based on Lawrence Wright's book of the same name, traces the origins of Scientology all the way back to its founder, L Ron Hubbard, in the 1950s. Gibney, an Oscar-winning film-maker who brought us Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, and The Armstrong Lie, interviews eight ex-Scientologists for Going Clear, including film-maker Paul Haggis, and one-time John Travolta confidante Spanky Taylor.
Initially aired on HBO in the US in March, Sky Atlantic, which owns theatrical rights to Going Clear, was expected to air it a day later. But the film never appeared on its schedule, with the explanation that an air date had yet to be "confirmed".
The Cult of Scientology is spending more tax exempt dollars in yet another Fair Game effort to attack Alex Gibney.
David Miscavige quite possibly experienced a major meltdown after Gibney's three-Emmy sweep for Going Clear.
Cult lackey Joe Taglieri works for Freedom Magazine and is asking to interview people about Alex Gibney. Please be advised that Joe Taglieri is an agent in the employ of the malicious and hateful Scientology Cult.
2014-09-20, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
There is a specific sector of scientology 'technology' that clearly betrays the subject's hypnotic, mind controlling nature.
That is L. Ron Hubbard's 'False Data Stripping' technology. In short, Hubbard dictates that one identify the source of any data that is getting in the road of a person adopting, with 100% certainty and exclusivity, any datum from scientology's indoctrination. Hubbard has the practitioner search for the data that conflicts with a datum Hubbard is attempting to get across. The objective is to eradicate the earlier datum utterly so that only Hubbard's datum remains unopposed.
First the practitioner and the recipient are indoctrinated to accept that holding conflicting data of any sort is a sort of aberration or mental dysfunction. There is no concept of plurality or synthesis when it comes to understanding in scientology. Please read this from the Hubbard indoctrination very carefully and try to think with the consequences of accepting it as Gospel.
2014-09-20, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
OK, here are some tidbits of interest from the Valley OTC meeting, focusing on the KCET Studios, combined with some information that has come in from several Special Correspondents.
This facility has now assumed a new acronym — SMP (Scientology Media Productions). It has fairly recently been integrated into the Int Liaison Office (a strange move when there has been NO CO ILO on post for some years, it is reported to be "held" by the CO CMO IXU).
Part of SMP is Mad Hatter Studios — Chick Corea's former recording studio that was purchased by Dear Leader as his handling for "getting Chick's finances in order." It was fully renovated and was supposed to be used for "recordings in LA" that couldn't be done at Int. In truth, it was simply another unusual solution and it has remained virtually unutilized since the day it was bought. CCHR has done some Voice Overs for Public Service Announcements there, and a radio show, Chick has recorded some stuff, and the Jive Asses (as Dear Leader calls them) recorded their latest album there. Apart from that, it is a white elephant. Even the person who was once a Miscavige "golden child" Chandra Lorentzen — head of Mad Hatter for years and then took over as head of SMP — is now in disfavor and was busted. Reportedly "COB" hand-picked her successor — Kelly Heddin, one of the backup singer/dancers for the Golden Era musicians. Don't get me wrong, Kelly is a nice woman — at least she was when she was a Non SO dancer/singer that attended all events where Gold had singers performing (MV, IAS, New Years, CC Anniversary). And maybe she has done a great deal of executive training in the last 5 years, but I doubt it based on the history of anyone studying anything in the Sea Org.
We've said it before: Scientology never gives up. With its public image at an all-time low, the sneaky organization continues to infiltrate where it can with the use of its front groups and stealthy operatives.
One of our vigilant tipsters noticed that Scientologists have wormed their way into an anti-gang conference happening next week at a Los Angeles high school.
"Without getting into the details of my childhood and the dangers of Scientology's education system, I will say this. The leader of Scientology, Tom Cruise's best man, my uncle David Miscavige, is a high school dropout. What does that say about the value Scientology puts on education? Is this not what Jaden Smith is advocating?" Jenna asked.
"I don't know what propaganda you have seen or what your celebrity advocate friends have told you, but it's time to look a little deeper. If you don't want to know the truth (which I gather is the case from you saying you 'don't want to talk about Scientology') then please refrain from praising a system you clearly know nothing about," she concluded.
Europe's top court has thrown out a Scientology complaint against Belgium over prosecutors' comments to the media about an ongoing investigation.
T he European Court of Human Rights has dismissed a complaint from Scientology against Belgian officials for their comments to the press on an ongoing investigation into the movement.
ECHR rejects Scientology bid Briefly, Scientology was arguing its right to a fair trial had been breached by comments made by prosecutors. The ECHR pointed out that since the trial had not yet taken place, that was a little premature.
On Tuesday, Barbara Walters once again came to the rescue for Scientology, this time sticking up for the church's "educational programs" on The View.
Whoopi Goldberg started the discussion by bringing up Jaden Smith's infamous tweet, in which the 15-year-old actor encouraged kids to drop out of school. Jenny McCarthy then brought up Scientology, which the Smith family has been said to dabble in. At that point, Walters spoke up, saying, "I'm not going to speak about Scientology in general, but Scientology has a pretty good educational program. They're not telling people to drop out."
That surprised Sherri Shepherd, who remembered that the program had recently had a guest who said just the opposite. "She said they pulled her out and put her in a camp. What kind of school is that? It's like it was a hard labor camp. She built the doggone — the huts that they lived in."
2013-09-20, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
My apologies for being somewhat out of touch on the blog over the last little while. I have been attending to some business. I was looking for something tonight for another reason and came across this post I did on Marty Rathbun's blog in November 2011. I thought it very relevant to much that has been said of late and so I am republishing it here for any who may not have read it back at that time. The use of the term "POB" in here was understood by the blog readers at the time to be "Pope on a Box" a reference to the fact that Miscavige uses an "apple box" to make him appear taller (an apple box is a common film-making term for a box used for this purpose to raise actors in a scene).
In any event, I thought this might be of interest today as it is just as valid now as when it was written. Perhaps even more so.
On the night of May 19, the sub chaser crew got a call from the USS PC-815, a newly commissioned Navy ship, built in Portland and under the command of L. Ron Hubbard, who would later found the Church of Scientology.
A former drug and alcohol addict is suing a Scientology-based clinic after he jumped off a third-floor balcony and suffered 'severe injuries'.
William Sweeney has accused the Pur Detox clinic in Dana Point, California, of negligence, medical malpractice and negligent supervision.
He claims that the clinic tried to wean him off his prescribed medication - which included an anti-psychotic and an anti-opiate - too quickly, following only a 20-minute interview.
Golden Era Productions, Gilman Hot Springs, CA, produces religious film, video, television, and events. These productions require considerable numbers of sets and props which must be produced to high levels of detail and accuracy, primarily from foam and wood.
A former drug addict who tried to kill himself at a Scientology-affiliated detox clinic is suing the center claiming their extreme treatment caused him to jump off a third floor balcony in a suicide attempt.
William Sweeney filed the lawsuit against Pur Detox in Dana Point, Calif., and Dr. Allan Sosin in the Orange County Superior Court this week, alleging negligence, medical malpractice and negligent supervision, the Court House News reported.
An Oklahoma drug rehab facility is being forced to hand over records that could possibly disclose that some employees are trading drugs in exchange for sex with patients.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court denied Narconon Arrowhead's request to keep those documents protected.
The documents will soon be released to the attorney representing the family of a young woman who overdosed after being released from the facility in 2008.
The state of California has sued Windsor Pictures, Skyline Pictures and a group of related financial entities and individuals charging them with operating a Ponzi scheme and committing fraud in raising more than $23 million to make and distribute movies.
According to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, the defendants used the money raised to pay large commissions, skim money to various interrelated companies and distribute dividends to investors until that abruptly stopped in August 2011.
"Defendants specifically targeted unsophisticated senior investors," says the suit, filed by the state's corporations commissioner Jan Lynn Owen. The targets allegedly were invited to "free" seminars where they were told they would get investment advice and were then offered a "no risk" investment in movies that would have "high rates of return."
2011-09-20, Mark Collette, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
An assault case against former Scientology official Mark "Marty" Rathbun was rejected by the San Patricio County Attorney's Office Tuesday, less than four days after Rathbun's arrest.
County Attorney David Aken said his office determined no jury would convict Rathbun after seeing the way in which the complainant and his Scientology film crew had been videotaping Rathbun's life for the last 155 days.
2011-09-20, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Update: After the jump, more detail on Rathbun's arrest from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. AND NOW, CHARGES HAVE BEEN DROPPED. SEE BELOW.
This story was originally posted on Saturday, Sept. 17.
Well, it looks like we were premature to say that the siege in South Texas had ended. Apparently, it's just taken a new form.
2011-09-20, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
San Patricio County rejects charge against former Scientology official Rathbun:
http://www.caller.com/news/2011/sep/20/san-patricio-county-rejects-charge-against/ Mosey and I thank all of you who helped from the bottom of our hearts. As you may have divined by now, the investigation is only now beginning...so the energy will be well used.
For background and most comprehensive, updated coverage go to editor in chief of Village VoiceTony Ortega's blog, including these final thoughts by Mr. O:
2011-09-20, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Look what South Texas' version of Carl Bernstein dug up in his first day back on the job after the weekend.
After 155 days of lying to the people of Ingleside on the Bay, the San Patricio County Attorney and Sheriff, the San Antonio Express and Mark Collette of the Corpus Christi Caller Times about there being no affiliation between SQBs and the "church" of Scientology, the "church" of Scientology International's Director of Legal Affairs winds up with his bloody fingerprints on the pistol.
"Operation: Payback Is A Bitch" began as an attack against Aiplex - a controversial Indian firm that works for Bollywood film studios and carries out DDoS attacks on websites hosting BitTorrent trackers that fail to respond to takedown notices - before progressing onto other entertainment industry websites. The attacks were initially coordinated via a IRC channel, which has since been taken offline.
The buildings targeted in the South End run a range from fire safety concerns to complete dilapidation. The Taj Hotel is listed because it doesn't have standpipes below the third floor. The Alexandra Hotel at 1769 Washington St., which has already been slated for renovation as the Church of Scientology's new 45,000 square-foot headquarters, has a wall that is in danger of collapsing under its own weight, according to the city's inventory of unsafe properties.
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: The daughter of the president of the Church of Scientology in Australia is speaking out for the first time about past treatment of children within the church.
In an exclusive interview with Lateline, Scarlett Hanna has described Scientology as a toxic organisation and says that many of those who've grown up in the church are damaged.
Scarlett Hanna talks of children being deprived of contact with parents and communal living conditions where 25 children lived in one unit.
Sure, says Mayor Frank Hibbard. It can be a little unsettling sometimes -- throngs of Scientologists wandering Clearwater's streets in their blue or khaki trousers and crisp dress shirts.
Sometimes, it makes the neighbors a bit uneasy. "When you come to downtown, no one likes being a minority," Mr. Hibbard said.
As a result of Willoughby's inadequate legal representation, the recall process will proceed, and the mayor and city council must now defend the recall rather than doing the business that they were elected to do. Council-member Rev. Alfreddie Johnson believed that his service as an elected official on behalf of the residents of Lynwood would thwart the recall. He said, "After the recall election is over, we are going to investigate the appointment of the city attorney. It is the responsible thing to do; it's good for the citizens of Lynwood and for the city council."
The night clubs, shops and lunch spots of downtown Albuquerque are about to get a new neighbor. The Church of Scientology is in the process of purchasing the Gizmo's building at 410 Central SE near Fourth Street, says Gabriel Rivera, a redevelopment planner with City Planning. "From what I've heard, in other places and other cities, [Scientologists] usually locate in the Downtown areas," Rivera says. Local Scientologists confirmed the deal.
The Church of Scientology bought the 35,000-square-foot building for $1.5 million.
Carol Yingling, a church minister, said the church plans to move its Connecticut headquarters into the building. The current headquarters is in 9,000 square feet of leased space just down the street.
"We are really busting out at the seams," she said. "I'm looking forward to having a place to hold community meetings."
Yingling said the move will allow the church to potentially quadruple its staff of 35.
AMID faces gray with grief and grime, theirs are fresh, even smiling. Among blackened uniforms and sooty equipment, their yellow T-shirts are bright buoys. They are clean.
At any time, well over 100 volunteer ministers from the Church of Scientology mill around the remains of the World Trade Center. On the day of the attack, they took in food to workers. Since then, they have taken the mind-altering techniques developed by the church's founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
Seven members of the Church of Scientology have gone on trial in France on charges of fraud.
The trial, in the southern city of Marseille, has led to renewed calls for the banning of Scientology in France, which officially regards it as a dangerous cult rather than a religion.
The charges against the seven defendants - who are alleged to have obtained large sums of money from fellow sect-members by fraudulent means - date back to the late 1980s.
The case opened amid controversy over the disappearance of 50 boxes of evidence from the Marseille prosecutor's office.
A former Church of Scientology lawyer Monday accused a federal judge of meeting privately with members of her former law firm and assuring them that if they represented Scientology, she would not remove herself from important Scientology cases.
The assurances, though highly improper, were important to the church, the lawyer said. Scientologists thought that if they could keep U.S. District Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer, whom they perceived as favorable to them, and get new lawyers who might have sway with her, they could win several lawsuits, the lawyer said.
The charge was made in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles by Joseph Yanny, who said he had witnesses to the meeting. The hearing was not specifically on Yanny's charges, but related to other matters in a Scientology suit.