Leah Remini and Mike Rinder, Remini’s co-host on A&E series “Scientology and the Aftermath,” have posted an open letter defending director Paul Haggis, who was accused of sexual misconduct by four women in a Jan. 5 Associated Press report.
Three of the women who accused Haggis — an ex-Scientologist, like Remini and Rinder — did so anonymously. Two of the accusations were of rape.
In the letter, Rinder and Remini refer to the allegations as “suspect” due to their anonymous nature and the fact that the church of Scientology is known for targeting members who have left its congregation.
“Those who accuse without going to law enforcement, those who seek hush money to keep their stories secret, those who make accusations to the media anonymously – they are suspect,” the letter, posted to Rinder’s personal blog, reads. “And when the target of these tactics is someone who is a prominent critic of scientology, it is very suspect.”
Haggis, who was a Scientologist for 35 years, left the church in 2009. Remini departed in 2013, and Haggis made an appearance on her Scientology series last September to talk about his exit from the organization. In the letter, Remini and Rinder assert that Scientology collects information about its members during their time with the group, and uses that information against them if they show signs of dissent.
“Only a scientologist can understand the pressure one feels to offer up even the slightest thing that the scientology organization might consider a transgression of THEIR mores,” the pair wrote. “This information is used against anyone who departs scientology and dares speak their mind. This is not imaginary. There is a documented history of such things. When someone is a declared an ‘enemy’ by scientology, they are fair game.”
“We expect the next ‘revelations’ about Paul Haggis in this campaign to destroy him to be based on information culled from his scientology files in the form of more ‘anonymous’ accusers,” the letter continues, “hiding behind a lawyer who will never have to disclose who is paying their bill.”
Remini and Rinder acknowledged that their statements may be perceived as controversial in light of the increased visibility of the #metoo movement, but that “the fear of consequences for speaking our truth has not held us back in the past and isn’t about to start now.”
“In this time of heightened awareness of sexual predators, it is easy to remain quiet when an injustice is being perpetrated for fear of being tarred as politically incorrect. But more important to us than being politically correct is standing up for what we believe is right.”
Haggis has denied all of the allegations through his lawyer, characterizing the three anonymous women, who came forward after an initial accusation from publicist Haleigh Breest, as part of a campaign “from the law-firm representing Ms. Breest…to try to harm him and continue their effort to obtain money.” He has also referred to his history as a former Scientologist in relation to the accusations against him. In a court filing against Breest, he wrote that as a prominent critic of the church, he is used to defending himself from false accusations.
The Church of Scientology provided the following statement regarding Remini and Rinder’s letter.
Leah Remini, Paul Haggis and Mike Rinder have predictably thrown up a reprehensible smokescreen to turn horrific sexual assault and rape allegations made against Haggis by four women into a bigoted attack about their former religion.
Today’s transparent ploy by Remini and Rinder fails to mention that plaintiff Haleigh Breest’s court papers definitively state that “Ms. Breest has nothing to do with Scientology. Being a critic of Scientology does not give a man permission to rape.” Furthermore, Remini and Rinder conveniently fail to mention that the three additional women making allegations against Haggis all are on record to the Associated Press as stating that they are not Scientologists — as if an alleged rape victim’s religion should matter — and that these allegations have nothing to do with the Church. Not only are Remini and Rinder mouthing a debunked conspiracy theory that was dead on arrival when they posted today’s rant, they further offend countless other alleged victims with stunning insensitivity.
To be clear, the Church has never met the women in this case nor their attorneys and knows nothing about the accusations against Haggis other than what has appeared in press reports and public court documents. We find it hypocritical and appalling for Haggis, Remini and especially Rinder — who has his own history of domestic violence and bullying women and who has no other source of income outside of attacking Scientology — to attempt to divert discussion about the subject of sexual abuse and the mistreatment of women with provably false claims to promote their hate-filled agenda.