Four women claimed in 2016 and 2017 that they had been sexually assaulted by actor Danny Masterson. Yesterday those four women sued Masterson and the Church of Scientology (of which he is a member) claiming they were harassed after reporting their allegations to police. From Variety:
The lawsuit states that the women were all followed, allegedly by agents of the Church of Scientology, in retaliation for going to the police. Chrissie Bixler, one of the plaintiffs, alleges that she was chased in her car in October 2017 by two people who were filming her. Shortly after, her dog died inexplicably. A necropsy revealed that the dog suffered “traumatic injuries to her trachea and esophagus.”
She also says that she has been harassed online, and that Scientology agents encouraged people to post fake Craigslist ads in her name soliciting anal sex. She alleges that she has been stalked, run off the road, and targeted for credit card fraud. She installed a home security system, which she alleges was repeatedly hacked and disabled. Bixler’s husband is also a plaintiff in the suit.
Another plaintiff, Marie Bobette Riales, alleges that she has been followed and photographed — even on vacation — and had her email accounts hacked. The suit states that her 13-year-old’s bedroom window was smashed in the middle of the night. She runs a food truck, and says it has been vandalized, false reviews were posted online, and fake ads offering to sell the truck have been posted online.
Masterson denies the allegations of rape and sexual assault. He issued a statement saying he intended to beat the claims in court. From Vanity Fair:
“This is beyond ridiculous. I’m not going to fight my ex-girlfriend in the media like she’s been baiting me to do for more than two years. I will beat her in court—and look forward to it because the public will finally be able [to] learn the truth and see how I’ve been railroaded by this woman. And once her lawsuit is thrown out, I intend to sue her and the others who jumped on the bandwagon for the damage they caused me and my family.”
The Church of Scientology gave a statement to HuffPost:
“From everything we have read in the press, this baseless lawsuit will go nowhere because the claims are ludicrous and a sham. It’s a dishonest and hallucinatory publicity stunt. Leah Remini is taking advantage of these people as pawns in her moneymaking scam.”
Leah Remini is an actress and former member of the church who has hosted a TV show critical of Scientology since 2016. If you’ve seen Remini’s show, Scientology and the Aftermath, you’re probably familiar with the idea that the church (allegedly) sends people to track and film anyone who publicly accuses it of wrongdoing. Remini’s show will be winding up this month after three seasons on A&E. She told the Hollywood Reporter that the accusations against Masterson will be part of the show’s 2-hour finale:
What made you decide to focus the final episode on accusations of sexual assault and physical abuse within Scientology?
I don’t know ultimately what they’re going to air — which is part of the issue when you’re not 100 percent in charge of your own show — but I can tell you what the intention was. I don’t remember the number of people in the audience, but they were all ex-Sea Org members. When I asked, “How many of you had a sexual crime committed against you in Scientology or SeaOrg or know of somebody who was molested or raped,” every single person raised their hand. That’s just the 75 or so people who were in the audience. One girl stood up told me she knows of 11 people who committed suicide in the Sea Org. Most people are blessed enough to not know any in their life. To raise your hand and say, “11,” it shows you what kind of organization we’re dealing with and how they obstruct justice. The work’s not done — whether it’s with A&E or another outlet, we’re not going to stop working.
There still haven’t been any charges filed against Danny Masterson. How did you want to address the allegations of rape against him?
We filmed with three [alleged] victims. The [alleged] victims were concerned and felt hurt and betrayed by [the delay in airing], and I understand that. They also feel hurt and betrayed by the [Los Angeles] District Attorney. I wanted to open up the whole thing. If it was any other organization but Scientology, the D.A. would at least be investigating. I’ve heard nothing.
Remini says that she’s not going to stop confronting Scientology but that she’s done all she can with the television show. She didn’t spell out what the next step was saying, “I’m not dumb enough to give Scientology a heads up on what we’re planning exactly.” The final episode of the show will air on August 26.