Last year Scientology made front-page headlines as one of its celebrity followers was found guilty of raping women in the early 2000s. That 70s Show star and devout Scientologist Danny Masterson was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for raping two women.
Allegations swarmed that more women were victimized by Mr. Masterson and, worse yet, that the Church of Scientology knew and facilitated his ability to get away with these heinous crimes. Now, the defendants in the case have filed an amended lawsuit tapping into verbiage generally reserved for the mob.
Scientology faces a new battle, proving that they do not and have not benefited financially from illegal activities done by their organization and the rich and famous that fill their ranks. Let’s look at the latest accusations against the notoriously secretive religion.
Forget about it
The lawyers representing the women who testified against Danny Masterson in his rape trial are claiming that Scientology, and specifically their current leader David Miscavige, should be brought up on mafia-inspired RICO charges. RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations and was crafted in the 1970s to go after the mob.
RICO charges are levied on organizations that participate in illegal activity such as bribery, wire fraud, arson, kidnapping, extortion, and witness tampering, to name a few.
According to the amended lawsuit, Scientology:
“…routinely and systematically engaged in fraud, human trafficking, identity theft and money laundering to fill its coffers and enrich its leadership.”
The lawsuit goes on to illustrate how these activities relate specifically to the rapes committed by Danny Masterson:
“Corporate Defendants and Defendant Miscavige closely monitor and protect celebrity members.”
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In addition to monitoring, the lawsuit alleges that Mr. Miscavige and the organization as a whole:
“…worked with Defendant Masterson to keep his sexual assault victims from reporting their abuse and mobilized an aggressive harassment campaign against the victims once the sexual assaults were disclosed.”
The original plaintiffs in the case against Danny Masterson claim that the church surveilled them, harassed them, and even murdered some of their pets in an attempt to intimidate and tamper with them as witnesses against one of their celebrity followers.
Taking it to the mattresses
The lawyers filing the RICO charges against Scientology allege that:
“Many of Scientology’s criminal enterprise’s money-making schemes are criminal in nature.”
While evidence of the above is yet to be disclosed, the lawsuit goes on to highlight the appearance of witness tampering:
“While presenting itself outwardly as a respectable organization, Scientology’s criminal enterprise has implemented a policy of terrorizing victims (and witnesses) of its crimes – whether or not those victims (or witnesses) are Scientologists – into keeping Scientology’s crimes secret.”
There are even claims that Scientology has a policy for this very activity called the Suppressive Persons and Fair Game rule. Of what is alleged, this rule states that if a member of the church or an outsider attacks Scientology or attempts to ruin its reputation in some way, then the protections the member had prior are no more, and retaliation is authorized.
Actress and former Scientologist Leah Remini claims to have been affected by this policy, given her documentary on Scientology and efforts to disclose the truth behind the organization.
Her lawyers released the following statement:
“Scientology’s policies regarding Suppressive Persons and Fair Game are not religious doctrine, they are old-school, mob-style tactics modernized, amplified, and weaponized by Scientology’s far-reaching network.”
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Proving the allegations to be true may be difficult given the shroud of secrecy and devotion church followers seem to have. Still, the curtain is lifting a bit on Scientology.
There is no doubt that the church has a penchant for recruiting celebrities, which comes with a level of influence. Celebrity followers of the Church of Scientology include Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Elisabeth Moss, Kirstie Alley, Giovanni Risbi, and Jenna Elfman.
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