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Danny Masterson Rape Hearing lifts the lid on Scientology’s oppressive culture of silence

Lucy Nicholson / Getty One of the moments when I realized Danny Masterson was most likely on trial for alleged rape of three women came on the third day of his preliminary hearing this week when the Los Angeles Supreme Court Justice, Charlaine Olmedo, who interrupted the process to make sure she understood a central concept of Scientology: Non-Scientologists are referred to as “wogs” for members of the organization. She asked the testifying woman, who was named Christina B. in court, if she had seen the Harry Potter series. This seemed to throw Christina B. but I knew exactly where the judge was going. So a wog is like a muggle? Judge Olmedo asked, and the court burst into chuckles. Oh yeah, I thought Masterson was toast. Four years ago, I first broke news that Masterson, the actor on the That ’70s show and a lifelong Scientologist, was being investigated by the LAPD. Three women reported that they were violently raped by him in his Hollywood home from 2001 to 2003 when they were themselves Scientologists. I continued to report every step of the case as the prosecution accepted a possible life sentence. The three victims and two other plaintiffs filed lawsuits against Masterson and the Church for persecuting them and when Masterson was prosecuted in June 2020. How the Church of Scientology went after Danny Masterson’s rape suspect From the start I was intrigued by how closely Scientology was intertwined with this case. Not just because these three women were Scientologists when they claimed they were raped, but as The Daily Beast reported, that they didn’t come forward because Scientology had frankly told them not to, or because they feared the consequences of doing so. (The Church of Scientology did not respond to requests for comment.) Even fairly casual Scientology watchers understand that the Church has a terrifying reputation for revenging members who advertise unsolicited badly. Such members are declared as “suppressive” and as “suppressive persons” are not only excluded from the organization, but can lose everything – all contact with their other family members who remain in the church, their friends, their business contacts. Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s words that someone who is considered an enemy of the Organization “can be betrayed, sued, lied to, or destroyed” ring in the ears of every Scientologist. Last month, as the preliminary hearing approached – the first time live testimony from the victims was heard – Assistant District Attorney Reinhold Mueller stated in a court case that Scientology was “inextricably linked to the case” after Masterson’s attorney Tom Mesereau claimed this was irrelevant and should not be mentioned in court. But I was still baffled by how much and how often Scientology had invaded the trial this week when the preliminary hearing spanned over 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 feared contacting the police or told the police incomplete versions of it, what had happened (in To save Scientology embarrassment, said Jane Doe 1) or feared the power of Masterson’s celebrity within the organization (she knew that no one would believe a non-celebrity like you, said Jane Doe 2). All women feared Scientology retribution and still are. For this reason, they are suing the church in a separate civil lawsuit alleging that they have been the subject of surveillance and harassment since reporting to the LAPD in late 2016. And when they answered, all three were hoping you could remain anonymous. After news of the investigation broke on March 3, 2017 and news organizations sought a response from Masterson, his publicist named the victim, who has been related to the actor for six years. (The other two women, despite his statements, had not been his friends.) After this exposure, and because she believed she had no other choice, she decided to call herself publicly – and that’s why we use the name she has Christina B. . was taken to court. The other two women were never identified. Therefore, as is customary in most news organizations with regard to victims of sexual assault, we continue to use the names they have adopted for the case: Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2. For some reason, news organizations have used the names, some of which are actual sourced from Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, who were used in court this week to shockingly reveal their own guidelines. For example, one AP story used the partially real name of Jane Doe 2, and just a few sentences later the following statement followed: “The Associated Press does not normally name people who claim to be victims of sexual abuse. “In the play there was no explanation as to why the AP used the name in this case. Danny Masterson was charged with three rapes on separate counts in the Los Angeles Supreme Court in Los Angeles, California, in 2001 and 2003. Lucy Nicholson / Getty The press covered exactly what these women testified this week. That Jane Doe 1 felt drugged in Masterson’s house and when she came to she was lying on his bed and he was raping her. This Christina B. found him on her and had to pull his hair to get rid of him. And that Jane Doe 2 said he turned her over, despite her protests, and “hit” her from behind in a violent attack. Each was interrogated by Masterson’s famed defense attorney Tom Mesereau, who pulled up previous statements they made between 2003 and 2017 and highlighted what he called inconsistencies in their accounts. Mueller then questioned her on the relay to explain these changes, frequently quoting Scientology. Mesereau’s approach to questioning her credibility and motivation for blaming Masterson seemed pretty typical of a rape case. But Scientology’s involvement in trying to prevent these women from getting forward in the first place made it particularly unusual. On Thursday morning break, a rather dingy-looking man in a trucker hat came and helped me with some papers. It was a subpoena from Mesereau asking me to hand over my documents that I had gathered in my coverage of the Masterson case. Lawyers have assured me that it is a ridiculous attempt to intimidate or silence me and avoid trial – especially in California, which has good protection laws for reporters. We requested an appointment for a hearing in August and received it from a court to overturn the subpoena. Danny Masterson’s rape accused advances to blow up Netflix: “We Make Matter” It was difficult at times to sit and listen to Scientology being discussed by the attorneys and the judge, who were sometimes unclear about L. Ron’s arcane concepts Hubbard imbued were the case. Take “Wog” for example. Judge Olmedo’s observation that it was the Scientology equivalent of “Muggle” was a light hearted moment, but no one took the time to explain to her that Hubbard, an Anglophile, had adopted a word that had a dark beginning and had a long racist history. British military overseas referred to “wogs” as American whites used the N-word. Even today it is a word that British publications do not use. At other times, however, it was clear that Judge Olmedo understood Scientology’s concepts of “suppressive acts” very well and learned things like “exchanges” and “2D sec checks” in the process. Mesereau is a celebrity in his own right, of course, and his head of white hair is his trademark. Through much of his cross-examination, I could see why he has the highest dollar. He was methodical and effective and calm and unwavering as the women he interviewed were pushed back. He was impressive. But every time he immersed himself in Scientology, he seemed overwhelmed. Yet it was Mesereau who brought the book Introduction to Scientology Ethics into the hearing in an attempt to trip Christina B. She said that Scientologists would not risk being declared oppressive by reporting rape to the police, but in the “Suppressive Acts” chapter, there was nothing about not reporting to the police, was there? He asked her to read the chapter, then asked her to admit that she could not find it. I found it difficult to sit still in my seat. Although I was never a Scientologist, I knew that the Hubbard book and other guidelines specifically spoke of preventing Scientologists from bearing testimony against other Scientologists. I wondered if Müller knew that. The next day, when he had the opportunity to forward Christina B., Müller got up and came to Mesereau and asked if he could borrow his copy of the Introduction to Scientology Ethics. It was the TV-ready moment all week. Mueller then turned to another chapter and asked Christina B. to confirm that it actually contained admonitions against Scientologists to go to law enforcement, which Hubbard very specifically described as corrupt. After showing that Mesereau was wrong and that he had pointed out the wrong part of the book (perhaps on purpose), Müller went back and with exquisite courtesy handed him the volume and said, “Thank you. It was 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 that the women had given him their consent and that they were motivated by jealousy and greed to falsely accuse him of rape. Mueller calmly checked the testimony when it was his turn, explaining that in each case there was solid evidence that Masterson knew he had no consent when he forced himself on each of the women, regardless of why Women there were what they said afterwards or what they had worn. The judge stated in her decision that not only did she find all three women credible, but that Scientology guidelines in particular helped explain why these women were afraid to come forward. There will be a trial chaired by Judge Olmedo, and because of her decision, Scientology will play a significant role in it. It was hard to read Masterson’s expression behind the face masks he was wearing. He watched the testimony closely, made notes, and passed them on to his lawyers. When Judge Olmedo announced her decision, his behavior did not change. And when she later asked him if June 7th was the date for his next indictment, he replied with a hearty “Yes, your honor”. Read more at The Daily Beast. Get our top stories to your inbox every day. Sign up now! Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside delves deeper into the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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