Culture

Church of Scientology Influenced Danny Masterson Rape Investigation, Leah Remini Says

11_27_Remini_Masterson
From left, musical artist Usher, actress Leah Remini and actor Danny Masterson arrive at a benefit dinner and concert for Project Restart and the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project at the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas on November 3, 2007, in Las Vegas. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Updated | In 2016, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office began investigating actor Danny Masterson for allegedly raping Chrissie Bixler and other women. Despite "overwhelming" evidence, no charges have been filed. Actress Leah Remini thinks she knows why: the Church of Scientology.

Remini spoke to The Daily Beast in a broad-ranging interview, published on Friday, that included her pointed thoughts about the stalled case against Masterson, one of dozens of men in Hollywood and beyond who have been in the spotlight in recent months for alleged sexual misconduct, harassment or assault.

“The captain of that department, Cory Palka, goes to the Scientology Celebrity Centre often. There are pictures of him hanging at Celebrity Centre,” Remini told The Daily Beast. “Scientology is very slick in that it’s partnered in this Police Activities League with the Hollywood division, and every year around Christmastime Celebrity Centre International right on Franklin presents the Hollywood Police Department with a check for this Police Activities League, which gives back to children.”

Remini—a former Scientologist who left the church in 2013 and has been shining a light on its harmful practices with a memoir and a television series—blames warm ties between the church and the LAPD's Hollywood division when cases like the Masterson rape investigation are mishandled.

The Daily Beast piece, written by Marlow Stern, explains that the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International has partnered with the chapter of the Police Activities League (PAL) associated with the LAPD’s Hollywood division on fundraising efforts for over two decades. The early years of the relationship between Celebrity Centre and PAL is described in Freedom Magazine, a church publication. The article was pegged to the Hollywood PAL winning an “Organization of the Year” award (after being nominated by Hollywood PAL officers) for “their outstanding contribution to their community through the LAPD Hollywood Police Activities League.”

“The donation of your personal time as well as the countless hundreds of hours volunteered by members of your staff has been of invaluable assistance to our youth programs,” Captain Constance Dial, Area Commanding Officer of the Hollywood Community Police Station, and Lieutenant Ron Sanchez, Commanding Officer of Detectives and the Officer In-Charge of Hollywood PAL, said in a letter read aloud by another officer at the award ceremony in February 1997, according to Freedom. “This display of enthusiasm and dedication to the young people of the community reflects the positive influence the Celebrity Centre has had for the Hollywood area.”

Related: Danny Masterson couldn't have raped woman he was dating, says publicist

The Celebrity Centre has continued holding fundraisers for the Hollywood PAL, and Masterson has attended several, including in 2008 and 2013. “I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support that the Church of Scientology, and you all, give to Hollywood’s youth programs,” LAPD Hollywood Division Area Commander Captain Peter Zarcone said in a statement in 2013, according to a Scientology press release. “You guys are far and away the largest donor to Hollywood’s youth programs and you have been for 21 years—so from the bottom of my heart, thank you very, very much for that.”

GettyImages-845025084 Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Remini’s insinuations that the police department isn’t handling cases related to church members properly came less than two weeks after Bixler railed at Netflix. Masterson’s ex-girlfriend blasted the streaming service for continuing to work with the actor on The Ranch even after it was aware of the investigation into Masterson. Bixler, one of four women who have alleged that Masterson raped them, also told HuffPost that she was pressured by the church, by Masterson and by Masterson’s publicist, Jenni Weinman, to believe that he couldn’t have raped her because the two were in a relationship at the time.

“What it’s done is it’s aligned itself as per its policies,” Remini said of the church's connections to the LAPD’s Hollywood division. “There are Scientology policies that say, ‘Safe-point yourself to the area police department because then nobody will attack your good works,’ so it’s all very pointed and calculated.”

The LAPD told The Daily Beast that “Captain [Palka] is not making any comments.”

"The Church of Scientology adamantly denies that when Chrissie Carnell Bixler came to the Church regarding her relationship with Mr. Masterson she made any criminal allegations,” Karin Pouw, a spokesperson for the Church of Scientology, told Newsweek. “The Church also denies and takes offense to the implication the Church would ignore the criminal behavior of certain members, especially at the expense of alleged victims.  The Church follows all laws and cooperates with law enforcement.”

This story has been updated to include a statement from the Church of Scientology.

Editor's Pick