Four women who have accused Danny Masterson of raping them filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court against the actor; the Church of Scientology, to which he belongs; and the church’s controversial leader, David Miscavige.
The suit accuses Scientology, which has long been accused of illegal and unethical conduct, and Masterson of engaging in stalking, physical invasion of privacy and a conspiracy to obstruct justice, among other allegations detailed in the complaint that HuffPost obtained from a source who provided a copy on the condition that they not be identified.
“This is beyond ridiculous,” Masterson said through his attorney. “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.”
For nearly three years, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office have investigated multiple allegations of rape against Masterson. Four women ― three are former Scientologists and two used to date Masterson ― have accused him of drugging them and violently raping them in the early 2000s.
HuffPost has spoken to the women multiple times for several stories over the past three years. Only two of the women, Masterson’s ex-girlfriends Chrissie Carnell Bixler and Marie Bobette Riales, have been identified in the complaint. The other two, both of whom, like Carnell Bixler, were former Scientologists, are identified as Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2. HuffPost is aware of the identities of the two women but has chosen not to name them as they are alleged rape victims who have asked to remain anonymous. Carnell Bixler’s husband, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, is also suing Masterson and Scientology, saying he has been targeted for harassment.
A litigation counsel for the Church of Scientology told 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.”
Remini, an actress and television host, has angered the organisation in recent years with a candid memoir about her time as a Scientologist and an investigative docuseries on A&E that outlines the Church’s history of abuse and retaliation against current and former members.
Though Remini knows and has spoken to the women accusing Masterson of rape, including in an interview that has not yet aired, the women told law enforcement, church officials and church members about the alleged rapes before they met Remini and before she left the Church of Scientology.
The investigation of those rape reports, the four women say, has dragged on with no results so far. In the last three years, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey has faced criticism for not completing the investigation, despite what critics of hers have referred to as “overwhelming evidence.”
The consequences Masterson has faced as a result of the investigation and the public scrutiny it has brought have largely centered on his career. After HuffPost revealed insensitive remarks made by a top Netflix executive to one of Masterson’s alleged victims, the streaming service fired Masterson from a show on which he co-starred, “The Ranch.” The executive, Andy Yeatman, was also fired by Netflix. Masterson was later dropped by his longtime agents at UTA.
The Church of Scientology (which obtained tax-exempt status under shadowy circumstances), has a documented history of intimidating its critics and the people and institutions it perceives to be enemies. The four women and their families are now considered enemies of Scientology, which has waged an all-out war against them, according to the lawsuit and interviews with the women and their family members over the last three years.
The Church of Scientology has been a focus of law enforcement and civil litigation since its founding. As a result, it reacts harshly when current or former members cooperate with law enforcement in investigations against current members or sue current members of the organisation.
The Church of Scientology has a specific policy with respect to cooperating with law enforcement and engaging in civil litigation, and, like all church policies, it is to be followed strictly by members with no room for interpretation. Members who cooperate with law enforcement or engage in civil litigation against current members risk being kicked out of the church and being declared suppressive persons, which means they will be, per Scientology policy, cut off from the life they have known. Scientology demands that current members not communicate with former members who have been declared “suppressive persons.” This means that members also must cut off contact with family members.
It’s this policy, the four women say, that has prevented them from seeking justice. In the lawsuit and in previous interviews with HuffPost, they said this policy prevented them from reporting their alleged rapes to law enforcement. With the exception of one of the unnamed women, the other three women did not tell law enforcement that they were raped until 2016.
It’s also this policy, the women say, that has prevented current Scientologists from aiding investigators.
Follow Yashar — or send him a tip — on Twitter: @yashar