TRANSCRIPT: Aaron Smith Levin on Why He Was Fired From the Aftermath Foundation

Aaron Smith Levin’s YouTube video entitled “I Am No Longer On The Board Of The Aftermath Foundation” November 20, 2023.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Hello, hello everyone!

I have no idea if this setup is going to work. I have no idea if the Wi Fi is going to work properly. I hope it’s not laggy.

You guys know I wanted to do a video or two per day while I was here in London on vacation. Turns out the Airbnb that we’re in is such that it’s impossible for me to record or do anything if I’m home… unless I’m home alone, and I’m never home alone. Until tonight. Everyone’s out seeing Book of Mormon and I figured you know what? I’m not a big fan of musicals, always wanted to see the Book of Mormon, but I think I can sit this one out.

Ummm, Eight days ago, last Sunday, I was voted off the board of the Aftermath Foundation.

And I wanted to do a video about this sooner, but I didn’t want to do any videos until I did this video. And like I said, this is the first opportunity I’m going to do this video. So let’s get to it. I do have some notes in front of me. I’m also working from one screen when you guys might know I’m used to working on three screens so I’m going to try to not make this too awkward, but let’s just do it.

The official reason for my removal was a video that I did two weeks ago, calling out an attorney – one of the attorneys representing Val Haney in her trafficking suit against Scientology – and I didn’t say the name of the attorney. The name of the title of the video was something like attorney makes huge mistake in Scientology trafficking case. And, um, and that video was about Graham Berry and you wouldn’t know that if you’d seen the video because I never said Graham Barry’s name in the video.

And you know, these plaintiffs are represented by large law firms. These law firms have tons of lawyers. If you already knew that Graham Berry was the one guy who was supposed to show up for that hearing, then you knew that’s who I was talking about, and it didn’t already know that you would never have any clue.

Okay.

Now, apparently, that video that I did about Graham Berry violated the Aftermath Foundation’s Code of Ethical Conduct.

Now, not only was it a surprise to me that a video, such as the one that I did, would violate the Aftermath Foundation’s Code of Ethical conduct, it was in fact, a surprise to me that the Aftermath Foundation had a Code of Ethical Conduct.

Because when Luis Garcia and I created the Aftermath Foundation, almost exactly six years ago, we did not create a Code of Ethical Conduct. There never has been one. One was not required. It’s not part of our bylaws. It’s not part of our incorporation documents or anything like that.

It turns out that less than 12 weeks ago, unbeknownst to me, and through a vote that I was not aware of and did not participate in, The Foundation adopted a code of ethical conduct that prohibits any board members from criticizing publicly, criticizing any individual, or any organization, that does any type of work with or for the Aftermath Foundation. Or is engaged in any type of work even similar to the Aftermath Foundation.

Strange, right?

Now, if I had been aware that such a code of ethical conduct was being voted on, and was being approved, I would have had a difficult decision to make, personally. Would I commit to being restrained in what I’m allowed to say on my YouTube or would I voluntarily stepped down? It’s hard for me to say with 100% certainty how I would have handled that at that time. I probably would have signed the document and then crossed that bridge when we came to it. But honestly, it would have put me in a tough position because I have used my channel to criticize people who needed criticizing and I’ve criticized people who, according to this new code of conduct, I will be prohibited from criticizing.

So, for example, Chris Shelton. Chris Shelton is someone who could be considered to be engaged in work that is at least similar to the Aftermath Foundation, in that sort of helps people who are leaving Scientology. Now, after the first Danny Masterson trial resulted in a hung jury and a mistrial, I very publicly criticized Chris Shelton and Tony Ortega for platforming the jury foreman who said publicly that the Jane Doe’s were not credible and were not believed by a majority of the jurors, and that no reasonable jury could ever unanimously find the Jane Doe’s credible.

Now at that time, the Jane Doe’s were made aware that this interview was going to be done and going to be public. And the Jane Doe’s asked Chris Shelton and Tony Ortega to… they didn’t say don’t publish it. They didn’t say don’t do it. They said could you just please wait until the District Attorney or the Deputy District Attorney announces whether he’s going to re-try Danny Masterson or not.

You know, the guy who thinks we were all unbelievable and that nobody would ever find us believable and was actually working with the defense to get the charges against me thrown out. Could you just wait on publishing that interview until after the DA makes an announcement about whether he’s going to retry Danny?

And Chris Shelton and Tony Ortega said no, we can’t wait. This is a scoop. This is our right. We’re going to do this anyway. Basically, we’re going to say fu to you guys.

Okay.

I very rightly publicly criticized Chris Shelton and Tony Ortega for doing that.

Based on this new code of ethical conduct that the Aftermath Foundation has adopted, doing that video would be something that would get me removed from the Board. So as you can see, it would be a problem for me.

Umm. Now look, Graham Berry, about Graham Berry. Graham Berry is a very competent attorney who has done a lot of good work going up against Scientology for decades. He’s an attorney that I, and the Foundation, have sent a ton of business to over the last six years. And I will continue to send business to Graham Berry. When it comes to the type of cases where he’s sending demand letters to Scientology to get people’s money back, there really is nobody that really Graham Berry has no peer when it comes to helping people get their money back from Scientology.

When it comes to the recent trafficking cases, many mistakes have been made. Many mistakes have been made. Deadlines have been missed. Incomplete filings have been made. Declarations have been omitted from filings, mistakes have been made. And Graham was just replaced on one of those cases just today.

So I was not completely out of line in my criticism of Graham Berry. I just want to say, I didn’t name Graham Berry.

Now Graham sent a letter to me, copying the foundation and all the board members, threatening to sue me if I did not delete that video and publicly apologize. What that video had anything to do with the Aftermath Foundation is beyond me, but I don’t want to belabor that point here for a moment.

Now, after a discussion with Graham, I did delete that video a couple days after I posted it. I just wanted to say that for the record. Ummm And and I wanted to say there’s no there’s no real hard feelings, I mean you know anyway, there’s no heard feelings.

Okay, so that’s the official… Hold on. Let me switch screens here. You guys make sure everything’s going okay on the stream side of this. Okay? Good. Back to my notes.

That’s the official reason. I feel there’s no official reason that I’m going to give that’s gonna be like what? What are you talking about? How could that be sufficient reason to get rid of you?

There were a lot of unofficial reasons discussed in the 30 minute conversation that I and the board had on Sunday evening.

What it really comes down to, guys, for a long time now – every time I get into trouble or piss someone off, people go running to Mike Rinder and Claire Headley complaining about me.

Now you might go, Who cares? Just tell them to eff off.

Okay.

Every time someone is pissed off at me, they go crying to either Mike Rinder or Claire Headley.

Oh my God! Did you hear what Aaron said?? How can you let you do this? You must do something about Aaron. Oh my god, did you hear what Aaron’s done Now? This is horrible. How can tolerate this? You must do something!

Any such complaints about me have had nothing to do with the Aftermath Foundation. Nothing. You know, in the six years this Foundation has existed, there’s never been a single complaint about me that had anything to do with the Aftermath Foundation. But they are just sick of being expected to be accountable for what I say and do, or who I’ve pissed off this week. That their feelings.

I cannot blame them for their feelings. Do I think it’s correct? No. Uhh, It doesn’t matter. It is what it is. That’s that what it comes down to.

I believe Mike Rinder is words, if I recall correctly, I can’t remember if this was an email that he sent to me or if it was in the meeting, but he said When people think of the Aftermath, the Aftermath Foundation, you know, I’m the one to come up with the name Aftermath Foundation – he said, People think of “Mike Rinder”. They don’t think “Aaron Smith Levin”. They don’t think “Luis Garcia”…

By the way, I was the Vice President of the Foundation. Luis Garcia was the president of the Foundation. Luis Garcia was forced out about four or five months ago for similar, but unrelated, circumstances.

And and he said, Yeah, he said, It’s not called the ‘Aaron Smith Levin Foundation’. It’s not called the’ Luis Garcia Foundation. It’s called the Aftermath Foundation. And when people think Aftermath, they think ‘Mike Rinder’.

And I said, Well, maybe the reason people think of me when they think of the Aftermath Foundation, or they think of me Aftermath Foundation, when they think of me, is because I’ve been working hard almost every day for six years as the vice president of the foundation, promoting the foundation.

Because this organization exists to do two things and two things only: raise money to help people leave Scientology, and deploy that money helping people leave Scientology. It doesn’t matter if people like us. It doesn’t matter if we like each other. It doesn’t matter if people are upset with this person or that person.

We have more money on hand than we’ve ever had before. We’re helping more people than we ever have before. You can’t really make an argument that anyone’s upset with me has any impact on the Aftermath Foundation at all. And and I said if Mike Rinder (speaking to Mike) If you, Mike Rinder, have some problem about the fact that people associate the two of us in their minds and that’s unpalatable to you, you can step down. That’s a Mike Rinder problem. That’s not an Aftermath Foundation problem.

And Mike said, I totally agree with you completely. And if my vote to have removed doesn’t go my way, I will resign.

Well, spoiler alert. The vote went Mike’s way.

(laughs)

Ummm.. let’s be honest guys. Many of you have detected that there’s been something wrong with these relationships for quite a while.

You guys have noticed I haven’t had Mike or Claire on my channel for about 6 months. That was deliberate.

In some ways this has for me, and maybe the others would say it has for them, for me, been somewhat of a toxic relationship that I was never going to leave. I’ve been in a somewhat humiliating position of like craving and needing and wanting the approval and acceptance of people who at this point just honestly don’t want me there. And I was never going to leave. I was fighting for dear life to stay.

And with a little bit of perspective, you know, it’s only been about eight days. Let’s be honest, probably done me a favor at this point by setting me free. I’m not just saying that as a cliche, I really, I really do mean it. Because I’ve had this hanging over my head for quite some time now that, oh, boy, if these guys have a problem with me, they’re gonna kick me out. And that’s going to be humiliating, and I have to watch what I say and watch what I do and everything.

And honestly, it’s humiliating. I shouldn’t have to live my life that way. And if they don’t want me to be a part of their group, they shouldn’t have to be forced to keep me.  You know what I’m saying. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. You know, you guys know we all used to be great friends. I couldn’t even tell you precisely when that changed, because honestly, we haven’t spoken about it. We’ve never had a conversation about it. Mark and Claire have never had a conversation with me about it. Mike’s never had a conversation with me about it.

I raised 20,000 plus dollars to Mike’s cancer treatment a few months ago so he could start his treatment. That didn’t warrant so much as a phone call. You know. The relationships have been sour for a while now. And that’s okay. It’s okay. This is not the end of the world like personalities, are personalities, things change over time. The Aftermath Foundation. The Aftermath Foundation has been a fantastic organization that’s done fantastic work over the next six years and it will of course continue to be exactly that.

Do I feel betrayed by people who are supposed to be my friends? Yes, I do.

Am I angry about that? Yeah, of course I am.

Does that mean I’m the good guy and they’re the bad guys? No. We’re all good guys. And we’re good guys, then. We’re all good guys now. Personality conflicts, whatever you want to call it. Chalk it up as life.

Shit happens.

Ummm. It is largely thanks to my work and my platform and my fundraising and my advocacy, that the Aftermath Foundation has close to a quarter million dollars in the bank. The Aftermath Foundation finally has gotten to a point where it has and you know that’s information you hear from publicly available filings, so I’m not telling tales out of school.

The foundation has finally been able to accumulate, but also raise, thanks to YouTube, enough more than enough on more funds than it can easily spend. So the floodgates are open wide open on the types of requests that the Aftermath Foundation can grant, not only from people who are leaving Scientology, but from people who’ve been out of Scientology for years.

In the early days of the foundation, we were very limited on what we could approve. For a long time, we wouldn’t even approve any money to help people who are already out of Scientology. We would only approve money to help people who were in the process of leaving Scientology. The reasons for that were purely financial. It wasn’t because we didn’t want to and you realize even if you have a chunk of money on hand, you always have to ask yourself, but how easy would it be to replenish these funds if they were spent? Until the YouTube fundraising platform became or the YouTube fundraising option uh became feasible,  raising money was always a challenge.

Raising money is no longer a challenge.

Okay, so you can expect the Aftermath Foundation to do even more good work, like expand its scope of good work moving forward. So even more moving forward than has been able to be done in the past.

Um, let me see here. ..

Now, I whenever I appear on large platforms talking about my channel, or the SP TV phenomenon in general, I have always said, and I’ve never failed to say, that the icing on the cake for what we do here on YouTube, is that I can use my platform to personally, to personally use my platform, to help people who are leaving Scientology. And I’m going to continue to do that.

And uh with the help of some other former Scientologists who regular viewers of my channel will know very well, we’re going to be creating a second nonprofit organization to help people who are leaving Scientology. And this is not like a divide and conquer situation. This is not like with one foundation, we’re stronger, but with two foundations were weaker.

It’s not like that.

There should be 10 Foundations. There should be enough organizations headed up by enough people that if someone doesn’t like those people, not I’m not you know, I’m not saying right now there’s only one foundation. So what if someone doesn’t like who’s running that foundation and doesn’t feel good asking that foundation for money?

There should be 10 foundations, just like there should be 100 YouTube channels. And former Scientologists there can be 10 foundations.

I’m gonna continue to do the good work that I’ve been doing over the last six years. And I’m gonna continue to do that with my own organization, just like the Aftermath Foundation was my own organization.

It was honestly almost exactly six years to the day that Luis Garcia called me and said, ‘Aaron, I’ve got an idea for a nonprofit that will help people to leave Scientology.’

I said, Luis, we’ve already discussed this. It’s a terrible idea and it will never work. He said, Hear me out. And he sold me on this decentralized, this decentralized format of a nonprofit.

And I said, oooo that would work.

And he said, Who do you think we should put on the board? I said, I can talk to Mike, Christy, Marc and Claire. And I think I can’t remember if I called Claire first or Marc first. I’m sorry, Claire first or Mike first. Let’s just say it was Claire.

I said Claire Luis just called me he’s got an idea. She goes, That’s a terrible idea will never work. We’ve already we’ve already discussed this. I said Hear me out. And I remember I played I closed Claire. Claire told Marc. Marc was good. Same conversation with Mike. Mike. We’ve got an idea. He said terrible idea. It will never work.

You understand guys, the pre-runner to the Aftermath Foundation, or the only thing that’s even come close as far as a formal organization, was the Lisa McPherson Trust. And one of the biggest problems with the Lisa McPherson Trust is that they had a physical brick and mortar location right in downtown Clearwater. Andd it gave Scientology something to attack. And  Scientology attacked The Lisa McPherson Foundation, like no one’s business, and I won’t even tell that whole story.

But there had already been many conversations about doing some sort of a new organization to help people and the conversations always resulted in, “Don’t ever try to repeat the mistakes of Lisa McPherson Foundation”.

The Aftermath Foundation has succeeded in not repeating the mistakes of the Lisa McPherson Foundation. And the decentralized nature of the foundation is part of what has allowed it to succeed. And it’s basically basically internet based nonprofit. It’s been wildly successful.

Well, guys, now we’re gonna have two wildly successful foundations. Hopefully we’ll have five one day, maybe 10. It’s all good.

My point is, this isn’t a zero sum game where we’re taking from each other or, you know, fighting over the same slice of the pie.

I do want to say guys, I’ve already discussed all this with Leah Remini. I want to say that for the record, because I’ve received a lot of questions about this. I do not have permission to speak for Leah, though I will say the following: Leah’s sad to see relationships destroyed. She’s happy to see new chapters being written.

And I will say this, there is someone who has never said to me, Aaron, you’re making me look bad. Can you rein it in? You’re doing shit and saying shit that makes me look bad. Please not do that. Leah Remini has never said that to me.

And Leah Remini has always had my back. So thank you for that.

Let me see. Okay. That is definitely all I have to say on this.

I’m gonna skip the super chats guys because I haven’t even been looking at the live chat and I just, I don’t want to go down that path right now. Ummm. That’s it, guys.

It’s Monday. I travel home Wednesday. Thanksgiving is Thursday.

You guys know me, I won’t be able to keep myself from doing videos on Thanksgiving.

So you probably won’t see anything else from me between now and Thursday, but maybe you will.

Anyhow, that’s it guys. If I don’t stop there, I’ll just keep keep blabbing.

Alright guys, thank you for hanging out with me this evening. I hope that the connection was okay during all this. I wasn’t even looking at the stream. I was just looking at my notes. But ummm thank you guys for all your support. Got a lot of good work. Got a lot of good work lies ahead of us with a lot of good people.

Thanks for tuning in, guys.

I’ll talk to you soon.

6 thoughts on “TRANSCRIPT: Aaron Smith Levin on Why He Was Fired From the Aftermath Foundation”

  1. I have looked on The Aftermath’s website and was unable to find a copy of the Code of Ethics Aaron spoke of. This is disappointing, perhaps an over site, but would go a long way toward transparency of goals and values of the group. If Smith-Levin’s rendition of the code is accurate, I got a culty vibe while listening to him. So, that being said I would like to read the organization’s version as passed by the board and the circumstances surrounding its passage.

    I think Smith-Levin is very good at what he does more often than not his research is spot on. There are some occasions when I think his “Knowledge Reports” on “Breaking” issues could use some more research. The video in question was one I felt deserved a few phone calls.

    Another concern I came upon is misinformation on the founding of the foundation.
    When I googled “The Aftermath founder”, I got the following Wicki. article.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Rinder, which states …
    In 2018, Mike Rinder co-founded The Aftermath Foundation, a nonprofit which helps people escape from Scientology, and connects former Sea Org members with housing, work and other support upon leaving the church.  Rinder is a board member of the Foundation.
    This is the attribution, “The Aftermath Foundation”. Mike Rinder’s Blog. March 5, 2018. Retrieved February 26, 2023.
    While the Blog post does not say Rinder is a founder, one might get the impression he was a founder upon reading.

    I do enjoy and have learned a great deal from the SPTV folks. One thing I have noticed is that many, who were long timers in the cult, still carry the aura of that past life. Perhaps that has gotten in the way.

    Thank you,
    JMJS

    Reply
    • No one – neither Aaron nor the remaining board members – is telling the truth about why Aaron was voted out.

      Had they decided to be transparent – to tell the truth – more people would understand why Aaron needed to be fired.

      But again, their own income and self preservation and good PR is more important than justice for those who have been harmed.

      So no one will get the truth.

      These people are disgusting to me. Every one of them. And while that may seem unfair on the surface, once what happened comes out, I think you will agree with me.

      Again. I’m sorry for being so harsh. No one is thoroughly condemnable, but these guys come close.

      Alanzo

      Reply
  2. Omg you guys have been raised in a cult!! You DO NOT react on a gut level normally to almost any conflict situation. It is like he really with Asperger’s or autism spectrum.

    Learning HOW to honest is a huge part of life. And all long term scientologist never learned that.

    It’s like trying to be a part of a small town you weren’t born in. Very hard.

    It seems groups of long term scientologist need a safe question space to talk and learn this. In you hearts I suspect is most good people, we whose background on human (normal ish) relationships and conflict.

    Reply

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