Paul Haggis recently became the subject of sexual misconduct allegations from four women, two of whom accused him of rape. Haggis had already denied one of the accuser’s claims when she brought a $9 million lawsuit against him for emotional distress, and he further denied all of the misconduct accusations against him. Given that Haggis, as an ex-Scientology member, is a vocal critic of the organization, some wondered whether a plot was afoot. That’s also the suggestion of Leah Remini, who suggests that the allegations are an attempt by Scientology to smear the Crash director.
All of Haggis’ accusers have denied any affiliation with Scientology. Yet Remini isn’t buying it, for not only did Haggis loudly condemn Harvey Weinstein last year, she also writes in a joint open letter with former Scientology spokesperson Mike Rinder (via the Hollywood Reporter) that he has always “championed the rights of women,” and Remini insists that, “These are not ‘PR stunts’ — he has devoted his time, skill and money without fanfare for decades.”
Remini continues with a discussion of Scientology’s record-keeping process, by which they conduct (and record) confessional interviews during a process known as “auditing.” The process often requires members to confess “sexual indiscretions” as defined by the organization. These are generally not illegal acts and simply focus on consensual sex or even sexual thoughts. And Remini suggests that these interviews have been used against Haggis:
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. 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.
With the name of everyone one might have thought of, flirted with or taken on a date, it takes little imagination to conjure a string of accusers being contacted and suddenly appearing out of the woodwork.
Both Remini and Rinder, who say that they expect the alleged plot to continue, maintain at the beginning of their letter that they have a history of supporting sexual abuse victims. Their support of Haggis appears centered around Scientology’s well-documented history of smearing its critics and using lawsuits and other legal claims to intimidate critics into silence (and scare potential critics from taking action). In this way, Remini’s defense of Haggis takes a different tone than Lena Dunham’s recent defense of a Girls writer based upon working with him and being friends with him for years.
It’s also worth noting again that the allegations against Haggis contrast against those of Danny Masterson. Even though Masterson was eventually fired from his Netflix show, his sexual assault cases have been slow-moving from a law enforcement standpoint. Of course, Masterson is still a participating Scientologist, and not too long ago, Remini also suggested that Scientology had “aligned itself” with the LAPD. Whereas, in Scientology terms, Haggis would remain “fair game” for targeting by his former church.
You can read Remini and Rinders’ full defense of Haggis here.