Leah Remini’s A&E television series about the Church of Scientology premieres on November 29, but it’s been filming for months. And in that time, Leah and her production crew have been subject to the usual reaction from the church itself including threatening letters, surveillance, and in Denver an encounter that was especially memorable.
We visited Leah this weekend in Los Angeles on the set of her show, and while she was cautious about the details of what’s in the eight episodes of her series, she did want us to know about how her production has come under fire.
It was a familiar litany. Whether it’s Alex Gibney making his documentary Going Clear, Louis Theroux making My Scientology Movie, or Ron Miscavige revealing secrets about his son Scientology leader David Miscavige in his memoir Ruthless, the church’s reaction follows a familiar pattern: Lots of lawyer letters, and creepy stalking.
This summer, Leah was in Denver spending time with well known former Scientologists Marc and Claire Headley. The Headleys were Sea Org workers at Scientology’s secretive international base until their escape in 2005. We’ve featured them many times, and you’re probably familiar with the ordeal they went through — including Claire’s two forced abortions. (Sea Org women were compelled to have abortions from about 1982 to 2010 by Scientology, reasoning that children were a hindrance when you want employees to work 112 hours a week for pennies an hour.)
Leah was with the Headleys at a restaurant one day when she noticed that there were two cars parked across the street in an empty lot, and the two drivers were talking to each other. She thought it was strange, and suspected that they were Scientology-hired private investigators. (The Headleys, who at one point sued the church, have a very long history of being stalked by Scientology private eyes.)
“I was having dinner with Marc and Claire, and I noticed two cars parked across the street in an empty lot,” Leah says. “I asked Claire, do you think we’re being followed?”
The next day, it became even more obvious that they had picked up a number of private eyes as tails.
“They weren’t doing a very good job of being inconspicuous. I think they wanted to be seen,” Leah says. “I was with Mike Rinder. And it became obvious that they were spying on us.”
Rinder, the former Scientology spokesman, is used to being under constant surveillance by the church. But for Leah, it was relatively unusual. We’ve noted in the past that she had largely escaped the heavy stalking and harassment that other former Scientologists have had to put up with. But in Denver, Leah found herself being targeted.
Two of the men were standing outside of the hotel where Leah was staying. She decided it was time to get some answers.
“Mike went to confront them. One took off, but Mike got in the face of the other one,” she says.
Leah’s crew managed to catch a pretty good image of the man…
Over the years, we’ve seen or written about many of Scientology’s private investigators. They tend to be former cops (but not always), and what they also have in common is that they tend to be no one you’ve ever heard of before. A few become notorious for working for Scientology, but otherwise these are people, mostly men, who don’t want to be recognized.
This time, it was different. Leah showed the photograph around, and it turned out that her stalker was actually a well known personality in Denver.
Daril Cinquanta was one of Denver’s most well known police officers in the 1970s and 1980s. He and his former partner, Larry Subia, were called Denver’s “super cops.”
A 2001 profile in the Rocky Mountain News described how Cinquanta’s career came to an ignominious end in 1989.
He was accused of mishandling evidence, lying about a suspect in an affidavit, lying on an arrest report, misusing informants and giving unbelievable testimony in court. He was demoted, suspended and ultimately forced out.
In the profile, even Cinquanta acknowledged that he’d pushed the boundaries of his duties as a cop.
“If you’re a policeman doing police work, you’re going to break the rules. If you think you’re going to play totally by the book and catch bad guys, you’re not,” he said.
The News article said that Cinquanta became known for targeting Latino suspects, but he denied that he was racially profiling.
“It’s taking a group of individuals in the city and trying to work them and be a more effective policeman,” he said.
After he was forced out, Cinquanta became a well known private investigator in the area. He boasted that he made more money as a private eye than the Denver police chief did. And that he “regularly” employed other suspended police officers. When cops in Denver went bad, they knew where they could turn for employment.
And despite the way his police career ended, Cinquanta was still featured as a legendary former Denver cop on a 2009 episode of John Walsh’s show, America’s Most Wanted.
Leah told us she wasn’t happy to learn that a disgraced “super cop” had been trailing her around Denver as she was interviewing former Scientologists about the abuses in the church.
“I’m used to people following me. But I’m used to them being paparazzi. They’re people who have cameras in their hands, and you know what they want. I’ve never been a fan of the paparazzi. But this was different,” she says. “I want to expose the private investigators that Scientology is sending to follow people like me. This causes me some concern. I have a child. And if you’re a cop who became a dirty cop, I have an issue with it.”
We tracked down a phone number for Cinquanta and called him Friday afternoon. We told him that we’d been talking to Leah Remini, and that she’d been followed by private investigators this summer in Denver.
“Who?” Cinquanta asked.
We explained that Leah Remini was an actress who had left Scientology, had written a book about it, and was now working on a television series about other people who had left the church.
“Who is she?” Cinquanta asked again.
We mentioned that Remini had been with Marc and Claire Headley, who are regularly surveilled by private eyes in Colorado. And we told Cinquanta that he was seen following Leah and the Headleys, and that they’d managed to get a good photograph of him.
“Does she want an autograph?” he asked.
So, what’s it like working for the Church of Scientology? we said.
“I wouldn’t know so I don’t know what to tell you,” he replied, and then hung up.
Besides having a disgraced former cop tail her, Scientology’s reaction to the upcoming series took another predictable form, Leah says. She heard recently from Raffy Ganimian, her former personal assistant who became a familiar figure in Leah’s reality show, It’s All Relative. Raffy told her that he’d received a call from a reporter for Scientology’s propaganda magazine, Freedom.
“A guy named Joe Taglieri called Raffy. I guess they thought since he isn’t working as my personal assistant anymore that they could get him to talk about me. But instead Raffy told me that they’d called him,” she says.
Taglieri told Raffy that Freedom was working on a story about Leah.
If it all sounds like the same techniques repeated over time, that’s because it is, Mike Rinder tells us.
“They cannot change the last-century playbook that is their sacred scripture,” he says. It was Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard who wrote that playbook 50 years ago, and the instructions he wrote for harassing journalists and former church members are still being carried out to the letter today.
“Clearly, Leah Remini is a big concern, and they have not had to deal with anyone like her before,” Rinder adds. “She knows their game. She is smart and tough. She commands a large audience. And she will not be intimidated.”
We sent a message to Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw about the private investigators keeping tabs on Leah. We’ll let you know if she responds.
TMZ is pinning the Packer-Carey breakup on Tommy Davis
We don’t know yet if there’s any truth to TMZ’s story this morning that’s pinning the blame for a breakup between Australian billionaire James Packer and singer Mariah Carey on Tommy Davis, the son of actress Anne Archer who was formerly a top spokesman for Scientology, a gofer for actor Tom Cruise, and became friends with Packer when he spent a few years in the church.
But we were the ones who broke the news about Tommy going to work for Packer recently, and we suggested that it might be part of an operation to get Packer back into the Scientology fold.
So while you’re trying to decide whether the Packer-Carey engagement is really kaput and whether Tommy and Scientology had anything to do with it, you’re going to want to bone up on how we got here.
Here’s our story in May breaking the news that Tommy had gone to work for Packer.
And here was our most recent story showing that Mariah and Tommy had both appeared at an event together in Hollywood.
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield