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Danny Masterson Rape Hearing Unveils Scientology Culture of Silence
Lucy Nicholson / Getty One of the times I realized Danny Masterson was most likely going to stand trial for allegedly raping three women came on the third day of his preliminary hearing this week, when Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo, halted the process to ensure she understood a key concept of Scientology: that to members of the organization, non-Scientologists are called “wogs.” She asked the testifying woman, who was named Christina B. in court, if she had seen the Harry Potter series. It seemed to throw Christina B., but I knew exactly where the judge was going. So a wog is like a muggle? Asked Judge Olmedo, and the court burst into laughter. Oh yeah, I thought, Masterson was toasting. Four years ago, I first announced that Masterson, the longtime That ’70s Show actor and Scientologist, was under investigation by the LAPD. Three women had come forward to say that from 2001 to 2003, when they were themselves Scientologists, they had been violently raped by him at his home in Hollywood. I continued to report every step of the way, as prosecutors decide to seek a potential life sentence, the three victims and two other plaintiffs sued Masterson and the church for tracking them down, and when Masterson was indicted on criminal charges in June 2020. How the Church of Scientology Fought After Danny Masterson’s Rape Accusers From the start, I was intrigued by Scientology’s connection to this case. Not only because these three women were Scientologists when they claimed to have been raped, but as reported by The Daily Beast, that they had not come forward earlier precisely because Scientology had openly told them not to. , or because they feared the consequences of doing so. therefore. (The Church of Scientology has not responded to requests for comment.) Even fairly casual Scientology observers understand that the Church has a frightening reputation for retaliation against members who bring it unwanted bad publicity. These members are “declared suppressive” and, as “suppressive persons”, not only are expelled from the organization, but may lose everything – all contact with other family members who remain in the church, their friends, their business contacts. The words of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard that someone considered an enemy of the organization “can be deceived, sued, lied or destroyed” resonate in the ears of every Scientologist. Last month, as the preliminary hearing neared – the first live testimony from the victims would be heard – Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller explained in a court brief that Scientology was “inextricably linked” to the case after. that Masterson’s lawyer, Tom Mesereau, had said it was irrelevant and that no mention should be made of it in court. But I was still amazed at how much and how often Scientology had bled into the proceedings this week, as the preliminary hearing spanned four days in Judge Olmedo’s courtroom in downtown Los Angeles. During the testimony and cross-examination of each of the women – Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2 and Christina B. – Scientology was cited as the reason they were afraid to report to the police or had told the police. incomplete versions of what had happened (in to avoid the embarrassment of Scientology, said Jane Doe 1), or had feared Masterson’s celebrity power within the organization (she knew no one would believe a non-celebrity like her, said Jane Doe 2). Scientology retaliation, and still is. This is why they are suing the church in a separate civil lawsuit that alleges they have been subjected to surveillance and harassment since reporting to the LAPD in late 2016. And when they did manifested, all three hoped they could remain anonymous. But after news of the investigation broke on March 3, 2017 and news agencies sought a reaction from Masterson, his publicist named the victim who had a six-year relationship with the actor. (The other two women were not his girlfriends, despite her statements suggesting that they were.) After this unmasking, and because she felt she had no other choice, she chose to name herself publicly – and that’s why we use the name she went to court, Christina B. The other two women were never identified and that’s why, as is the custom of the Most of the news agencies dealing with victims of sexual assault, we continue to use the names they adopted for the case: Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2. For some reason, the news agencies referred to Partial real names of Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 who were used in court this week in a shocking betrayal of their own policies. In an AP story, for example, Jane Doe 2’s partial real name was used, and then a few sentences later was followed by this statement: “The Associated Press does not generally name people who say they have been. victims of sexual abuse. There was no explanation in the article as to why the PA chose to use the name in this case. Danny Masterson is charged with three charges of rape in separate incidents in 2001 and 2003, in Los Angeles Superior Court in Los Angeles, California. Lucy Nicholson / Getty The press has accurately reported what these women testified to this week. That Jane Doe 1 had felt drugged at Masterson’s and when she came she was on her bed and he was raping her. That Christina B. found it on her and had to pull her hair to get it down. And that Jane Doe 2 said he turned her over despite her protests and started “pounding” her from behind in a violent attack. Each was cross-examined by famous Masterson defense attorney Tom Mesereau, who recalled previous statements they made between 2003 and 2017, highlighting what he said were inconsistencies in their accounts. Mueller then asked them about the redirect to explain these changes, often citing Scientology. Mesereau’s approach, to question their credibility and their motivation to accuse Masterson, seemed fairly typical for a rape case. But the involvement of Scientology, which had tried to prevent these women from coming forward at all, made it particularly unusual. Thursday, during the morning break, a rather dirty guy in a trucker hat came over and served me some papers. It was a subpoena from Mesereau, asking me to hand over my documents collected in my report on the Masterson affair. Lawyers have assured me that this is a ridiculous attempt to intimidate or silence me and that I will not stand up in court, especially in California, which has good protection law for journalists. We requested and received a court date in August to quash the summons. Danny Masterson rape accuser shows up to blow up Netflix: ‘We Do Matter’ It was sometimes difficult to sit down and listen to the Scientology that the lawyers and the judge were talking about, who sometimes weren’t clear about the mysterious L. Ron Hubbard concepts that permeated the case. Take “wog”, for example. Judge Olmedo’s observation that this was the Scientology equivalent of “Muggle” was a light moment, but no one took the time to explain to him that Hubbard, an Anglophile, had adopted a word that had an obscure beginning. and a long racist history. British servicemen overseas referred to “wogs” as the way white Americans used the N word. Even today, it is a word British publications avoid using. But at other times, it was clear that Judge Olmedo had a very good understanding of Scientology concepts of “acts of suppression,” and she learned things like “out-exchange” and “2D Sec Checks” in the process. road. Mesereau is a celebrity in his own right, of course, and his shocking white hair is his hallmark. Through much of his cross-examination, I was able to see why he commands the highest price. He was methodical and efficient, calm and unfazed when the women he interviewed pushed each other away. He was awesome. But every time he walked into Scientology he seemed to be beside himself. And yet it was Mesereau who brought the book Introduction to the Ethics of Scientology to the audience and used it to try to trip Christina B. She said Scientologists wouldn’t risk it. be declared repressive by reporting a rape to the police, but in the chapter “Repressive Acts,” there was nothing not to be reported to the police, was there? He asked her to review the chapter, then asked her to admit that she couldn’t find it. I found it difficult to sit still in my seat. Although I was never a Scientologist, I knew that Hubbard’s book and other policies explicitly spoke of Scientologists being barred from testifying against other Scientologists. I wondered if Mueller knew this. The next day, when he had a chance to be redirected to Christina B., Mueller stood up and came to Mesereau and asked if he could borrow his copy of Introduction to the Ethics of Scientology. It was the most TV ready time of the week. Mueller then turned to another chapter and asked Christina B. to confirm that it did in fact contain warnings against Scientologists going to law enforcement, which Hubbard very explicitly called corrupt. After demonstrating that Mesereau was wrong and that he (perhaps intentionally) pointed out the wrong part of the book, Mueller went back and, with exquisite politeness, handed him the volume and said, “Thank you. It has been very helpful. The Church of Scientology Community Center in the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty On Friday Sharon Appelbaum made the defense argument that Masterson had reason to believe women had given him consent and that they were motivated by jealousy and greed to wrongly accuse him of rape. Mueller calmly reviewed the testimony when it was his turn, explaining that in each case there was strong evidence that Masterson knew he did not have consent when it was imposed on each of the women, regardless of why the women were there, what they said next, or what they had worn. The judge, in her ruling, found that not only did she think the three women were credible, but Scientology policies had specifically helped explain why these women were afraid to come forward sooner. There will be a trial, chaired by Judge Olmedo, and because of his ruling, Scientology will play an important role in it. It was difficult to read Masterson’s expression behind the masks he wore. He closely followed the testimony, took notes and passed them on to his lawyers. When Judge Olmedo announced his decision, his demeanor did not change. And when she later asked him if June 7 was his next arraignment date for him, he responded with a warm, “Yes, your honor.” Register now! Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside delves deeper into the stories that matter to you. Learn more.