During four days of preliminary hearings last week in the rape trial of That ’70s Show actor and Scientologist Danny Masterson, three women detailed how top officials from the celebrity-driven church allegedly tried to silence their accusations, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The women—identified only by their first names and last initials—also aired their grievances with the church in 2019 a civil suit against Masterson, who last June was charged with three counts of felony rape by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. Although representatives of the church tried to keep their religious practices out of the criminal trial, Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo ruled against them.
In allowing the case to go forward, Olmedo found that the victims did not report the alleged attacks to the police for more than a decade because Scientology has “an expressly written doctrine” that “not only discourages, but prohibits” its members from reporting other followers to law enforcement.
As each woman took the stand, they alleged that church authorities had used strong-arm tactics in attempting to silence them.
One woman, who claims that Masterson raped her in 2001 while she was unconscious, testified that a Scientology official demanded she write a statement in which she would “take responsibility” for the assault.
Another woman, who was born into the church, said that when she planned to report Masterson in 2004 for allegedly raping her in 2003, a Scientology lawyer appeared at her family’s home to warn them that she would be excommunicated if she did so.
Further testimony revealed insider church lingo such as “Internal Justice Chief”— whose permission one accuser said she sought to report Masterson to the police—along with “knowledge reports,” “Things That Shouldn’t Be reports,” and “O.W. write-ups.”
It also came out that the church refers to the police and to courts as “wog-law” and to nonmembers as “wogs.” As one victim explained, “It’s not a nice thing.”
Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw tells the Times that Olmedo’s findings are “flat-out wrong” and calls the allegations against Masterson “nothing more than a money shakedown.” Pouw further claimed that the accusers are merely repeating things they’ve heard said by famed church critic Leah Remini, who left Scientology in 2015 after more than 30 years.
Mike Rinder, who was Scientology’s lead spokesman until he quit the church in 2007, and is co-executive producer with Remini on A&E’s Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, told the Times that church secrets being aired in open court “is exactly what Scientology does not want to have happen.”
As Rinder sees it, Scientology has invited such scrutiny.
“The activities of Scientology have been so much a part of the evidence that’s being put forth as to why these women were not immediately going to law enforcement,” he said, “that it’s sort of brought the dirty laundry out into public view.”
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