Victims came forward after reaching out to actress Leah Remini as a result of her A&E series
Victims complain of being pressured by the Church of Scientology to keep quiet about their claims, and were punished for being victimized
One victim accuses LAPD of being compromised by its relationship to the Church of Scientology, says detective told her investigation already ‘ruined’
By Tony Ortega
The Underground Bunker has obtained documents which show that the Los Angeles Police Department has been investigating Scientology celebrity and That ’70s Show actor Danny Masterson 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.
We want to emphasize that no charges have been filed against Masterson, whose attorney Marty Singer said that he had not heard about an investigation against the actor. When we contacted the LAPD, we were asked to send an email inquiry to Chief Charlie Beck, and he has not responded to a lengthy message we sent him yesterday. We sent a message to Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw asking for a church statement, but have heard nothing. Masterson’s publicist, Jenni Weinman, said she wanted to take our call yesterday, but then did not get back to us.
One person we did hear from is actress Leah Remini, whose recent A&E series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, was a key reason that the women came forward.
Before Remini’s series even began airing in November, there was so much publicity about it she and her co-star, former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder, began hearing from people who had never previously come forward about allegedly being victimized by the church. One of them told Remini about her claim of being attacked by Masterson.
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.
As a result of Victim A coming forward, the LAPD contacted Victim B and reopened her case, with Remini’s encouragement.
“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.”
But after several months, Victim A became increasingly frustrated with the LAPD’s investigation, and on February 22, she wrote a lengthy and detailed letter to LAPD Capt. William Hayes and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, spelling out what she claimed were signs that the LAPD has been compromised by the Church of Scientology.
In her message, Victim A described the background of her case: That she had been in a relationship with Danny Masterson, but he had allegedly anally raped and injured her while she was unconscious in an incident that occurred in December 2001. And that she had never previously reported the rape to police because, like Masterson, she was a Scientologist, and Scientology officials told her not to go to the police and then had punished her for being victimized.
“They threatened me that if I ever told anyone or reported him to the police that I would be declared a ‘suppressive person’ and lose everything and everyone,” she said in her message to Chief Beck. “Then they put me on a massive ethics program as punishment. My rapist was not punished at all. They didn’t even call him to talk about it. I ended up breaking up with him two months later.”
Only recently, she wrote, did she learn of another person who had been attacked by Masterson — Victim B — and then about another victim who also came forward, Victim C.
In November, Victim A made a police report in her local city (she no longer lives in California, where the alleged rape took place). That police department referred the case to the LAPD’s Hollywood station on Wilcox Avenue, but it was then assigned to Detective Esther Reyes of the Robbery-Homicide Division.
“I was told that my report was transferred out of the Wilcox location into downtown due to known leaks within the Hollywood division when I received a phone call from Detective Reyes later that day…She warned me that I am not to speak to any other officer or anyone claiming to be an officer,” Victim A wrote to the LAPD chief.
She was told by Reyes that Victim B’s case, which had originally been investigated by the LAPD in 2004, had been officially reopened, and that Victim C had also filed an official report.
Again, from the Feb. 22 letter: “She told me that she has taken our police reports out of the LAPD computers so that no one could see them. She said she had them in a vault that only she and her captain could access. She told me this was done to safeguard the case as she agreed that their [sic] are leaks in the LAPD and that some LAPD officers are very friendly with the church of Scientology.”
In January, Reyes and another officer flew to Victim A’s location and took her statement.
Reyes asked the victims to make controlled phone calls to try and get Masterson and others to talk about the alleged crimes. The victims were each assigned phone numbers that they could give out so that if Masterson or other witnesses called it, the calls would be automatically recorded by the LAPD.
Victim A used her assigned phone number to call two Church of Scientology “ethics officers” as well as Masterson’s publicist, Jenni Weinman. She was unable to get Masterson himself to call the number.
In her email to the police chief, Victim A complained that Det. Reyes never gave her much guidance on the phone calls, except to tell her that it would be acceptable if she lied during the conversations.
“Reyes told me many times that the DA says that if we fail the recorded phone calls then Reyes would have to find other victims independently of me and the other known victims,” she wrote.
But besides the phone calls, there were witnesses to the incidents, and although Reyes said they would be interviewed, they have not been interviewed at this point.
Victim A also explained in her message that Victim B was assigned her own phone number, but when she looked up the number on a web search, she found that it returned results like “Do not call this number. It is a police sting number.” Reyes had apparently made a mistake, assigning Victim B a phone number that had previously been used in another case.
Victim A wrote that Reyes continued to put pressure on her to get better information in her recorded phone calls, and that time was running out.
“She suggested I up the heat on the publicist. Not knowing what that meant, and being under tremendous pressure to not fail Reyes or the case, I gave the publicist an ultimatum. I told the publicist that if Danny doesn’t do the right thing and apologize to me then I would back [Victim B] up and go public as well.”
Victim A wrote that Reyes called this a mistake, and told her that she would have extended the time on the phone number, which Victim A says Reyes did not make clear earlier.
“Reyes then accused me of ruining the calls with my ultimatum [to the publicist]….So instead of Reyes thanking me for spending the past month constantly making heart-wrenching calls to truly horrible people, she blamed me for ruining this part of the case.”
Since the victims started making the recorded calls, witnesses to the incidents have begun flying to Los Angeles in recent days. “[Masterson’s] people are collecting the witnesses to get them on the same page. I asked [Reyes] why she won’t get their official statement before they are compromised. She told me again that she is looking for other victims…”
Victim A related that a couple of weeks earlier, Reyes had said something to her that now seemed to be prescient. “Reyes totally out of the blue told me that at any time I can walk away from the case. She told me she would not be mad at me. No one would be mad at me. She would totally understand. It felt like she wanted me to walk away.”
After telling her it would be OK to walk away, now Det. Reyes told her that she had “ruined” the case with her recorded phone call to Masterson’s publicist.
“Last night’s phone call with her devastated me. I cannot believe an SVU detective would speak so unprofessionally and so cruelly to a sexual assault survivor. To coldly blame the victim for ruining the case. Knowing that would be a trigger for me as the church of Scientology blamed me for getting raped.”
After the upsetting phone call, Victim A told Reyes that she wanted a copy of her police report. Reyes had previously refused, but this time sent Victim A the initial page of her report. Victim A says in her email to the chief that it shocked her to see the report. Instead of a rape investigation, the charge was listed as sodomy, which carries a lesser potential penalty, and the description of the incident was poorly written and inaccurate. Victim A has tried to get the rest of the report, and so far has been unable to.
According to the LAPD report itself, Victim A claimed that she was attacked and injured while she was unconscious: “Victim and suspect lived together for 6 years, but were not married. Vict went to bed and when she woke up and was bleeding from her anus. Vict confronted the suspect, he laug[h]ed at her and told her he had sex with her in her anus.”
Victim A finished her lengthy message to Chief Beck with an appeal to save the case from Det. Reyes’ bungling.
“You have a serial rapist on your hands with god knows how many victims and how many future victims, and the church of Scientology has known about it, threatened us, silenced us, and covered it all up. I am begging the LAPD for a fair and honest investigation. I am begging you all to do the right thing. I am begging for your help.”
The Underground Bunker has spoken to a witness of one of the incidents. He’s no longer a Scientologist, but in 2003 he was a member of the church and attended the party at Danny Masterson’s house where Victim B claims she was attacked.
“We were all good friends. I was at Danny’s for a party one night and he was DJing. [Victim B] showed up at some point,” the witness tells us.
“I remember that she was sober. She hadn’t been drinking. But then Danny made her a drink. Later, from the backyard I heard Danny say, [Victim B]’s going in the pool! And yeah, he threw her into the pool.”
The witness went outside to see what had happened. Victim B was in the water along with two other women. “[Victim B] had all her clothes on — I remember she was wearing a black halter top and black jeans. You know, to tell you the truth I felt kind of sorry for her and I resented Danny for doing it. But she said she was OK.”
He says Victim B came out of the pool, went to a patio chair, and curled up in a ball. Someone wrapped a towel around her.
“Danny, at some point, said to her, ‘Hey, let me take you upstairs,’ and I said, ‘Whoa.’ But Danny said, ‘No, no, I’d never do that. She’s my homie.'”
Later, the witness says he was in the living room as the party had begun to fizzle out. And that’s when he heard a commotion coming from upstairs, where Danny’s bedroom was.
“I saw [Victim B], she was coming toward me, her hair was still drying. She looked terrified. And she said, ‘Oh my God, Danny just raped me.’ She was freaking out and crying.”
According to the LAPD police report of Victim B’s incident, she is alleging that Masterson choked her when she objected to being sexually assaulted by him. “SUSP (acquaintance) sexually assaulted the victim while she was passed out. The victim woke up while the suspect was having sex with her and struggled with him. The suspect choked the victim until she passed out,” the document reads.
The witness says that everyone at the party were Scientologists, and after Victim B emerged from Masterson’s room they immediately began trying to create the impression that nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
“[Victim B] was in the kitchen freaking out, and I was really concerned. But people were saying no, Danny didn’t do anything, she’s fine. She’s just had too much to drink. There was a commotion as they tried to calm her down and lead her upstairs. Someone convinced her to go up to Danny’s room,” he remembers. “Somebody said to me, she’s going to stay here and sleep it off. Then I left.”
A day or two later, he says, he was called in to Scientology’s Hollywood Celebrity Centre where an ethics officer spoke to him about about the incident.
“I was told in no uncertain terms by the ethics officer that [Victim B] had too much to drink and Danny had done nothing wrong. He said she was being ‘handled.’ And I remember thinking, OK, but what’s happening to Danny?”
The witness says he was told by Victim B that she had given his phone number to Detective Reyes when the investigation began last fall, but he hasn’t been contacted by the LAPD.
Danny Masterson is mostly known for his part on That ’70s Show, which ran from 1998 to 2006, and for helping to get one of his costars, Laura Prepon, into Scientology. Masterson himself grew up in Scientology and was doing television commercials by a very young age.
Like most Scientology celebrities, he rarely talks about his involvement in the church, but then suddenly he talked about it rather openly in 2015 to Paper magazine. “I’ve never been given a hard time my entire life about my belief system or my philosophy in life. Literally never once in 38 years,” he said. “If people start like asking questions in a way where I feel like they have an ulterior motive, I’m just like, ‘Dude, just go buy a fucking book and read it and decide for your fucking self what it means’….I work, I have a family and I’m a spiritual being who likes to understand why things happen in the world and want to learn more so that I can have them not affect me adversely. So if that’s weird, then, well, you can go fuck yourself.”
While the LAPD’s investigation of Masterson was going on, news emerged that his wife, Bijou Phillips — the Almost Famous actress and daughter of musician John Phillips — needs a kidney transplant, which Masterson said he is optimistic that she’ll receive.
Masterson is currently producing and starring in a Netflix series, The Ranch, with his That ’70s Show costar Ashton Kutcher. Its second season is expected to be coming in the next couple of months.
We asked Leah Remini for her thoughts on where the LAPD investigation has gone after she encouraged Det. Reyes to pursue the case.
“As more people come forward and are courageous, it’s going to force law enforcement to do its job. Mike Rinder and I will make it our business to follow this story very closely and make it known publicly.”
UPDATE, 3:30 PM: Now that this story is getting picked up all over the place, two interesting statements have been made. First, by the LAPD, which essentially confirms our story:
The Los Angeles Police Department Robbery Homicide Division, Sexual Assault Section, is conducting an investigation involving the actor Danny Masterson. Three women have come forward and disclosed that they were sexually assaulted by Masterson during the early 2000’s.
Danny Masterson has also put out a statement, through his representative, Jenni Weinman, who said she was interested in speaking with us yesterday and then never got back to us. We confirmed with one of the websites jumping on this story that it was Weinman who gave them this statement but for some reason did not want to have her name attached to it:
We are aware of the accuser’s 16-year-old allegations. It was only after she was in contact with Leah Remini that she made allegations of sexual assault by Mr. Masterson. The alleged incident occurred in the middle of their 6 year relationship, after which she continued to be his longtime girlfriend. Significantly, during their long relationship she made numerous inconsistent claims that she was previously raped by at least 3 other famous actors and musicians. When Danny ended the relationship she continued to pursue him, even making threats to beat up his current wife Bijou Phillips unless she left him. In fact, we are informed by the Church that the only demand the accuser made of the Church after Danny broke up with her was asking for their help to intervene so the breakup would not be permanent. We are aware also that approximately 14 years ago a woman referred to in the blog made allegations of sexual assault and that the LADP interviewed numerous witnesses and determined the claim had no merit. 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 accuser only came forward after connecting with Leah Remini.
Now, we’ll tell you what Weinman isn’t saying to those websites running this statement and that they should be interested in knowing: Jenni Weinman is listed as a witness to the sexual assault of Victim B on the second page of her police report.
We confirmed with the witness we interviewed for our story that it was Jenni Weinman, in fact, who brought Victim B to the party at Masterson’s house the night she alleges that she was raped.
If Jenni Weinman is going to put out statements about the victims in these assaults, she really ought to identify herself, and also disclose that she was, in fact, a witness in the investigation.
UPDATE, 4:30 PM: Gary Morehead, a former Scientology security official, reminded us that before he was known as “DJ Mom Jeans” Danny Masterson went by the charming stage name of “DJ Donkey Punch.” Gary even had still in his possession a DJ Donkey Punch party pass that he was given for a 2001 appearance by Masterson.
We’ll just post here the Wiktionary definition of Donkey Punch: “The Donkey Punch is a relatively simple maneuver. When engaged in anal sex from behind, simply punch your partner in the back of the neck so that the sphincter clenches up.”
The Police reports:
Scientology disconnection, a reminder
Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,680 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,783 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,277 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,317 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,029 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 496 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,614 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,784 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,104 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,079 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 435 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,737 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 844 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,246 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,119 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 700 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,205 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,449 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,558 days.
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The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)
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