Leah Remini called for Scientology to be a co-defendant if “That ’70s Show” star Danny Masterson is re-tried for rape, suggesting in a statement that her former church has covered up sexual misconduct crimes “many other times.” The church strenuously denied her claims to her, and said the prosecution’s portrayal of church inner workings was “dead wrong.”
Masterson’s nearly two-month rape trial ended in mistrial Wednesday with a deadlocked jury – though the voting showed panelists leaning heavily toward acquittal. Four women testified that Masterson raped them at his home in the early 2000s; the three who brought charges each were Scientologists, and testified that the church blamed them, tried to cover it up, and forbid them from going to authorities.
“While this is not the outcome I wanted for the survivors of Danny Masterson’s predation, I am glad a retrial has already been scheduled,” Remini tweeted.
The judge did set a March 27 re-trial date Wednesday – but that was a formality and does not mean prosecutors will continue to pursue their case against Masterson, who remains free on $3 million bail against three charges of forcible rape. The district attorney’s office has until a Jan. 10 status hearing to decide whether to try the same case, go with a different strategy, or drop the charges altogether.
One factor in favor of retrial is the willingness of witnesses to take the stand again: All three Jane Does who accused Masterson of charged crimes are parties in a civil lawsuit pending against him and Scientology – and on Wednesday, they vowed to continue fighting. Remini, a longtime member who left Scientology and became one of its harshest critics, once again corroborated the women’s testimony that the church had a standing threat to turn on anyone who reports a fellow Scientologist.
“I want to remind everyone that when you’re a Scientologist, you are strictly forbidden from reporting crimes to civil authorities that other Scientologists commit against you,” she tweeted. “You are ordered only to report things to internal Scientology authorities. Scientology will completely destroy your life if you dare to go to civil authorities, like the LAPD or FBI. And you will lose everything from your family, friends, and job overnight.”
Remini, who co-created “Scientology and the Aftermath” following an acrimonious apostasy, was a witness in the New York civil rap trial of fellow former member and church critic Paul Haggis. In that case – which Haggis lost – Remini and “Aftermath” co-host Mike Rinder supported the theory, without any hard evidence, that the church was somehow behind the allegations.
In the Masterson case, Remini was more explicit, calling for Scientology to also go on trial:
“Scientology and its evil leader David Miscavige obstructed justice and participated in a conspiracy to cover up these crimes. They have done this many other times in cases of rape and other sexual misconduct,” she wrote. “Scientology should be a co-defendant in the subsequent trial.”
Last month, Remini tweeted about filing a missing person’s report for Shelly Miscavige at the Hollywood Division in 2013 that was instantly closed. The LAPD issued a statement disputing multiple facts in Remini’s version of events, and said that officers had personally contacted the wife of the Scientology leader.
Scientology has refrained from commenting on the Masterson case, of which it is not a party – until now. The church on Thursday reiterated its statement from the beginning of the trial, denying any policy against members reporting other members:
“The Church has no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of Scientologists, or of anyone, to law enforcement. Remove the opposite. Church policy explicitly demands Scientologists abide by all laws of the land.”
The church included that language in a lengthy statement in the hours after a mistrial was called Wednesday, saying testimony from three Jane Does about the church’s influence were “totally false.”
“The District Attorney unconscionably focused his prosecution on religion and fabrications about the Church hoping to prejudice the jury and inflame bigotry,” the statement reads. “The DA had an anti-Scientology agenda orchestrated, scripted and pushed by Leah Remini. The DA elicited answers from the Jane Does concerning allegations about the Church that were totally FALSE. Even more egregious is the DA’s blatant misrepresentations and misinterpretations of our doctrines and beliefs. Quite simply, the DA’s descriptions of Scientology beliefs and practices were, uniformly, DEAD WRONG.”
The church also attacked Remini for supporting Haggis, who was ordered to pay $10 million in compensatory and punitive damages for the 2013 rape of publicist Haleigh Breest.
“[Remini] appeared as the star witness in his trial and gave false testimony in support of rapist Paul Haggis—going so far as to call Haggis the real “victim,” the church said. “That was the first time Leah Remini’s fabrications, and Remini herself, were put to the test: The jury’s rejection of Remini’s testimony is evidenced by the $10 million awarded against Haggis.”