TV actress and fervent anti-Scientologist Leah Remini ‘scandalously’ persuaded alleged rape victims of That ’70s Show star Danny Masterson to file police reports against him by threatening not to feature them in her TV show if they didn’t, the accused actor’s lawyer claimed in court Tuesday.
Some of the women Masterson – a Scientologist – is accused of raping were interviewed by Remini for her TV documentary Scientology and the Aftermath, about the controversial church the actress quit in 2013 and has been crusading against ever since.
Masterson’s legal team wants to subpoena those interview tapes, some of which aired and some that didn’t.
And Tuesday his lead attorney, Tom Mesereau, told a criminal court in downtown Los Angeles, the victims were offered ‘inducements and benefits’ to report Masterson to the police.
‘Leah Remini, an ant-Scientologist interviewed the alleged victims and told them, ”If you don’t file a police report, you won’t be on my show,”’ added the lawyer. ‘That is scandalous.’
Some of Danny Masterson’s accusers were interviewed by Leah Remini for her TV documentary Scientology and the Aftermath. Leah Remini and Danny Masterson in 2009
On Tuesday, Masterson’s lawyer Tom Mesereau (right) claimed Remini ‘scandalously’ persuaded his victims to file police reports against the That ’70s Show actor
Mesereau’s outburst came amid a slew of accusations he leveled at the prosecution including withholding evidence, a secret ‘double agent’ LA Police Department detective who was working a second job as security for Remini, and a ‘missing’ 2004 police file.
Masterson, 45, – who didn’t show up for Tuesday’s court hearing – has pleaded not guilty to charges that he raped three women in separate incidents at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003.
Veteran attorney Mesereau – who defended Michael Jackson when the he was charged with child molestation – described as ‘worthless’ many of the polices reports and witness statements the district attorney has handed over to the defense as discovery because they are so heavily redacted.
‘Witness after witness after witness statements are blacked out. We can’t tell what’s going on,’ said Mesereau.
He also addressed claims that the Church of Scientology had ‘harassed and stalked’ Masterson’s alleged victims and asked the judge to order the prosecution to hand over surveillance tapes make by cops investigating the harassment claims.
Mesereau insisted that Masterson ‘had nothing to do with’ the alleged harassment of the victims.
And he pointed to several ‘extremely troubling issues’ including the involvement in the case of how a mysterious LAPD detective – who is a friend of Remini and also works security for her – inserted himself into the case.
‘This detective was acting as a double agent (for Remini) even though he was not in the sex crimes unit , nor part of the (Masterson) investigation.’
Mesereau also questioned how a 2004 police report made by one of Masterson’s alleged victims ‘went missing’ after the LA District Attorney rejected prosecution for lack of evidence.
‘Why was this case rejected?’ he asked. ‘We don’t know what that rejection was about……A file in which the documents were rejected, suddenly disappears.’
Chrissie Bixler dated Masterson for several years and claims he would forcefully have sex with her and became violent when she refused. She says her dog mysteriously died after she reported him (pictured together in 2000)
Bobette Riales and Masterson dated from 2002-2004, in which time Masterson allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted her. She claims she was stalked by the church after she came forward with allegation (pictured together in 2003)
Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller countered, telling the court that only personal information, LAPD internal documents, personal opinions of investigators, plus issuers still being investigated were redacted from the evidence files handed over to the defense.
‘We have met our statutory obligation to turn over all discovery at this juncture,’ he said.
He said the surveillance footage in the harassment investigation was not relevant to the rape cases and that investigation is still ongoing.
Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller countered, telling the court that only personal information, LAPD internal documents, personal opinions of investigators, plus issuers still being investigated were redacted from the evidence files handed over to the defense
Mueller did admit that at the prosecution has been ‘Unable to locate’ the missing original 2004 alleged rape report. But, he added, there is a copy of that missing report and the defense had been provided with it.
As for Mesereau’s ‘double agent’ LAPD detective, Mueller dismissed his claim as ‘innuendo,’ and ‘a lot of hyperbole.’
He added, ‘The defense is on a fishing expedition, spreading a broad net and hoping something will come up.’
Judge Olmedo ordered the prosecution to hand over to the defense any more discovery evidence that has not been submitted up to now.
But she denied Mesereau’s motion for to continue (delay) Masterson’s preliminary hearing ‘to give us time to properly prepare’ their defense case.
The judge reaffirmed the preliminary hearing date of May 18, telling the court, ‘This case has been pending since June 16 2020. Given the time the defense has had to prepare for the preliminary hearing, there is no basis for a continuance.’
In normal, non-pandemic circumstances, a person facing such serious charges would be required to show up for court dates.
But Masterson has been able to skip the last few hearings – including Tuesday’s – under a special Covid 19 waiver that allows defendants not to appear in person.
But that privilege ended Tuesday with Judge Olmedo telling Mesereau that Masterson must show up for his preliminary hearing on May 18
His attorney, Mesereau, has tried to get the case tossed, filing motions to dismiss the rape charges, saying they were ‘politically motivated’ and beyond the statute of limitations. These motions were dismissed.
Outspoken Scientology critic Leah Remini appeared at Masterson’s arraignment to support his alleged victims in September
Mesereau has also tried several times to have the press banned from court hearings, accusing law enforcement of ‘leaking’ information to media about the rape charges. He argued that publicity about the case would prejudice the jury at Masterson’s future trial.
Each time, a judge denied Mesereau’s efforts
Mesereau did win one small victory for his client last month when Judge Olmedo denied a prosecution request to have Masterson surrender his passport.
Judge Olmedo ruled that the $3.3 million bail the star has been free on since his arrest last June, ‘is sufficient to ensure Mr. Masterson’s appearance in the future.’
Masterson – who has been married to actress and model Bijou Phillips since 2011 – stands charged with raping a 23-year-old woman between January and December 2001, raping a 28-year-old woman in April 2003, and raping another 23 year-old woman between October and December 2003.
He was also accused of sexual assault in two other cases but the DA’s office said they declined to file charges on those, one for insufficient evidence and the other based on the statute of limitations.
In 2019, four women – including the three alleged victims in the criminal case – filed a civil lawsuit against Masterson, claiming he drugged, raped and sexually assaulted them in the early 2000s.
The lawsuit also named the Church of Scientology and its leader David Miscavige as defendants, claiming the women were stalked in a ‘conspiracy to cover up that Daniel Masterson sexually assaulted four young women’.
Two of the women named in the suit were Masterson’s ex-girlfriends – Chrissie Bixler and Bobette Riales – while the other two are listed as Jane Does.
Masterson – who played wise-cracking Steven Hyde on That ’70s Show from 1998 to 2006 – called the lawsuit against him and the Church of Scientology a ‘shameful money grab’
Bixler is being lent support by actress Leah Remini, a former Scientologist who left the religion and is now one of its harshest critics, campaigning vehemently against it with a reality TV show called Scientology and the Aftermath. Remini was at Masterson’s criminal court hearing last October.
In the civil lawsuit, the alleged victims’ lawyer said, ‘When those women came forward to report Masterson’s crimes the Defendants (The Church of Scientology) conspired to and systematically stalked, harassed, invaded their and their family’s privacy, and intentionally caused them emotional distress to silence and intimidate them.’
Masterson – who played wise-cracking Steven Hyde on That ’70s Show from 1998 to 2006 – called the lawsuit against him and the Church of Scientology a ‘shameful money grab’.
In statement to DailyMail.com, the Church of Scientology branded the lawsuit ‘baseless’ and the claims ‘ludicrous and a sham’. ‘It’s a dishonest and hallucinatory publicity stunt. Leah Remini is taking advantage of these people as pawns in her moneymaking scam.’