Actor Danny Masterson is reportedly under investigation for rape by the Los Angeles Police Department. Journalist Tony Ortega writes that Masterson, a longtime Scientologist, is suspected of raping three fellow members of the organization, who also say they were pressured by the church not to report him to the police. A rep for Masterson has denied the allegations and no charges have been filed against him.
Ortega’s The Underground Bunker has focused for years on critical stories about Scientology; he reported Friday that he has obtained documents showing Masterson is being investigated “in at least three alleged cases of rape or sodomy of women who were also Scientologists and who claim they were pressured by the Church of Scientology not to contact police or go public with their accusations.”
Ortega also writes that the victims were encouraged to go to the police by actress Leah Remini, who recently left Scientology, wrote a book about it, and produced a TV series on alleged abuses by the organization. The first accuser alleges that Masterson sodomized her while she was unconscious in the winter of 2001, when she was in a relationship with him. She alleges that she was told if she reported the incident to the police, Scientology would declare her a “Suppressive Person,” the organization’s version of shunning. A second victim alleges that Masterson raped her at a party in 2004; there’s no information about the third woman, although Ortega reports that she also filed a police report.
Ortega also reports that the investigation into the first woman’s allegations was closed when witnesses still belonging to Scientology contradicted testimony by the accuser:
Remini tells us that she said to the woman, who we’re calling Victim A, that it was time for people to take action, and she encouraged Victim A to file a police report.
When she did, Remini then got personally involved in the investigation, which soon grew when two additional women were added to it.
One of those women, Victim B, had filed a report with the LAPD in 2004 after her rape had occurred in 2003. But that investigation was closed when witnesses — who were Scientologists — contradicted the victim’s testimony.
The first victim has also accused the LAPD of mishandling her case, saying the sex crimes detective assigned to her encouraged her to “walk away.” And Remini told Ortega there is a photo of a Scientology-affiliated actor in the LAPD’s offices, which she says sends a negative message to women who might want to report allegations against Masterson:
“I met with the LAPD. I met with Detective Reyes, and I told her these victims deserve to be heard,” Remini says. “I pointed out to her that there was a framed picture of a Scientologist on their wall, actor Michael Peña. Do you know what that says to a young Scientologist who comes here to seek justice? My experience with the LAPD has not been good. I asked her to do the right thing by these girls, and I told her that the world is watching.”
A PR representative for Masterson is denying the allegations to the website Gossip Cop. The statement appears to use the first woman’s full name, and says the allegations by both her and the second woman have “no merit.” (Gossip Cop appears to have only redacted the woman’s last name, leaving her open to identification, which is a deeply shitty thing to do.) The statement also accuses the first alleged victim of saying she was raped by other actors, and of threatening to “beat up” Masterson’s current wife, Bijou Phillips.
The statement also accuses Remini and the Underground Bunker of using the allegations to draw attention to her TV series: “Based on reading the anti-Scientology blog that posted this story, these false allegations appear to be motivated to boost Leah Remini’s anti-Scientology television series since [the victim] only came forward after connecting with Leah Remini.”
It’s unclear what the current status of the LAPD investigations is; the department has not yet issued a public statement. If you have any other information about this story, please email us.
Update, 4:45 p.m.:
In a statement to People, the LAPD confirmed they’re investigating sexual assault allegations against Masterson from that time period:
“The Los Angeles Police Department Robbery Homicide Division, Sexual Assault Section, is conducting an investigation involving the actor Danny Masterson,” LAPD’s Robbery Homicide Division said in a statement. “Three women have come forward and disclosed that they were sexually assaulted by Masterson during the early 2000’s.”