February made us shiver, but it was another Astounding month here in the Bunker - 2016-12-22
We're continuing to count down the months in our 2016 year-in-review, and today we're looking back at the stories covered here at the Underground Bunker during February. (But we're still continuing to cover breaking news, never fear.)
Looking back at February 2016, the month started off with perhaps the year's biggest shock to the system. We broke the news on February 1 that Monique Rathbun had fired her entire legal team. In August 2013, Monique filed a harassment lawsuit against numerous Scientology entities and officials, including church leader David Miscavige. Scientology responded by throwing more than 20 lawyers at the case, which provided some interesting scenes down at the courthouse in quiet Comal County, Texas. Those lawyers followed Scientology's usual scorched-earth playbook and threw numerous roadblocks at the suit, including the tactic of trying to get Monique's attorneys disqualified. But Monique's team — Ray Jeffrey, Marc Wiegand, Elliott Cappuccio, and, for appeals, Leslie Hyman — knocked back everything Scientology threw at them, and were, by all accounts, winning the case. Scientology knew it, and in order to protect Miscavige, the church fell on its sword and made some amazing stipulations in official court briefs, admitting, for example, that it does surveil and investigate former members as a matter of course. Never, in decades of litigation, had the church made statements so openly admitting to such behavior, an indication of the worry that Miscavige would end up, at some point, under oath in this mess. From May 2014 to November 2015 — a full year and a half — the case was on hold as the Texas Third Court of Appeals considered one of Scientology's desperate attempts to derail the lawsuit. But when the appeals court finally ruled, it not only cleared away the church's obstruction but handed Monique one of the most damning rulings against Scientology in many years. After more than two years of preliminary matters, Monique and her husband, former church official Mark "Marty" Rathburn, were in the driver's seat and were poised to cause some serious pain for Miscavige and his church, our legal experts told us. And then, just two months later, Monique fired all four of her attorneys, and "without cause," so if some kind of judgment or settlement still happened, the attorneys would be in line to be paid. After then gamely pursuing the case on her own for a few months, Monique then withdrew it altogether while blaming her former attorneys for blatantly mishandling the lawsuit — a charge that was demonstrably untrue. Months later, we're still completely mystified as to why the Rathbuns badmouthed their attorneys and walked away from a winning case that at least had the potential to yield them a settlement in the millions of dollars. At his blog, Marty Rathbun claimed that there was no settlement at all, and he has left readers guessing as to the reason the lawsuit was dropped.
Thankfully, on February 5 we lightened things up with another of those glorious testimonials videos from Scientology — and this one even featured Leah Remini's husband, Angelo Pagan, talking about his "releases" and "blowing things out."