Masterson’s accusers feared expulsion from Scientology. His stepfather lived it

Every day during Danny Masterson’s rape trial, the front two rows of the downtown Los Angeles courtroom are filled with the actor’s family and close friends.

Like Masterson, his mother, Carol; his wife, actress Bijou Phillips; his brothers and two half-siblings, and his friend Chris Wadhams are devout Scientologists. They listened unresponsively to the graphic testimonies of Masterson’s accusers, chatting quietly with him during breaks and walking out of court with him at the end of each day.

Not among them is a man who helped raise Masterson and his siblings, his former stepfather, Joe Reaiche. Excommunicated from Scientology in 2005, the former Australian professional rugby player said neither Masterson nor any other family member had spoken to him since.

“When it happened, I cried. They’re my kids. I raised my kids and now they’ve turned on their dad,” Reaiche said in an interview with The Times. “Not because of my decision, but because of the decision of the church. It is the evil of disconnection.

The “it,” Reaiche said, was church officials’ decision to declare him a “suppressive person” — a designation that kicked him out of the religion and forced other Scientologists to cut ties with him. him.

Actor Danny Masterson, left, stands with his attorney Thomas Mesereau during his rape arraignment in an LA County courtroom.

(Lucy Nicholson/Pool Photo)

The concept hangs over the Masterson trial. In a pretrial ruling that outlined how much jurors would hear about the inner workings of the church, the judge allowed the prosecution to cite the religion’s policy on reporting followers as oppressive to help explain why alleged victims , who were raised as Scientologists, waited long periods of time. long before reporting Masterson to the police.

Masterson is accused of raping three women between 2001 and 2003. The women allege he doused them with alcohol before assaulting them and sometimes attacked them while they were unconscious. Scientology representatives, they said, pressured them not to report the crimes to the police.

The two women who have testified so far at trial said they had avoided turning themselves in to law enforcement for fear of being branded as repressive.

“It’s important for a member of the church,” Deputy Dist. Atty Reinhold Mueller explained to jurors in his opening statement the concept of “being declared.”

“What this means is that the church and the members of the church have to come off you. You are basically an enemy of the church. Your friends, your parents…they all have to come off you.

The Church of Scientology told The Times that the practice of declaring followers suppressive is “very rare.” The church also says it has no policy requiring Scientologists to stop speaking with someone after they are found to be suppressive.

Declaring people oppressive is “no different from the practices of exclusion, excommunication and avoidance, practiced by other religions when a member of a group engages in unethical conduct that harms to the group as a whole,” Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw said.

For Reaiche, the expulsion was quick and carried out even before the church informed him of its decision, he said.

“I called some of my 20, 25 year old friends. Nobody’s answering. It’s weird. I call my children. No one is answering,” he said.

The next day he received the letter.

“They let everyone know I was declared except me,” Reaiche recalled. “All of a sudden, overnight, it’s like they’re all dead.”

Her fear of meeting that fate led Jen B., one of Masterson’s alleged victims, to wait a year to report her rape to the Los Angeles Police Department, she testified. Like the other accusers, the woman is identified in court records and during testimony by her first name and initial to protect her privacy.

As a second-generation Scientologist, Jen B. said she believed her friends and parents would disown her if she reported Masterson.

“I was a Scientologist and Mr. Masterson is a Scientologist and you can’t report another good Scientologist to the authorities,” she testified. “From what I understand, I would immediately be guilty of a ‘great crime’. High criminality is punishable by expulsion from Scientology. … You cannot speak, have contact, anything with a person who has been expelled. Declared a suppressive person is the label I would receive.

Jen B. wrote a letter in April 2004 to Mike Ellis, the church’s international justice chief.

“I am writing to ask for assistance. I would like permission to file criminal charges and civil suits [against Masterson] if I feel like I’m up to it and don’t fear being declared,” she wrote, according to the letter, which was used as an exhibit at trial.

In his response, Ellis did not allay his fears, prosecutors said.

“Mr. Ellis’ response a few days later tells her she needs to carefully consider the alternatives and the consequences. What that meant for Jen B. was that she couldn’t go to the police, otherwise she would be declared,” Mueller said in her opening statement.

The Church of Scientology denies that people are being punished for reporting crimes committed by other Scientologists.

Another accuser, Christina B. — who dated Masterson for six years in the late 1990s and early 2000s — also feared being declared repressive. She did not tell anyone outside of the church about the rape for 10 years, prosecutors said. She waited 15 years before reporting it to the police.

“If you had been declared a suppressive person, what impact would that have had on you? Mueller asked the woman during her testimony.

“I’m afraid I didn’t survive that back then,” Christina B. replied.

Reaiche had already been away from the church for years when he was expelled, he said.

“They were too enthusiastic in the church and I was watching sideways,” Reaiche recalled of her family.

He and Carol Masterson divorced in 1995, but he maintained a close relationship with Danny and Chris Masterson – as well as his biological children Jordan and Alanna – and lived in Los Angeles until 2004. He worked as a physical trainer for Danny and Chris Masterson after they landed roles in major Hollywood shows.

Reaiche moved to Atlanta in 2004 and said his ties to the church had become tenuous, when “all of a sudden I get a phone call and I’m called in [to Florida] appear within 24 hours (…) before an evidence commission.

He made the trip to Clearwater, Florida, where the Church of Scientology has its “spiritual headquarters.” In a small room, four church officials spent two hours late that night questioning him about allegations that he used Scientology practices and teachings in a “squirrel format” – the jargon of the church for an unsanctioned way.

Reaiche said he trains others in a program similar to Scientology, but less expensive than what Scientology charges its followers to progress through the various stages of its teachings.

Six months later, Reaiche was declared Suppressive. He claimed the church tried him in “kangaroo court” and denying the charges did nothing to help his case.

“In November 2002, Joe used squirrel ethics technology on a non-Scientologist in order to ‘introduce’ her to Scientology,” officials wrote in the order they issued declaring Reaiche a suppressive person.

For a time, Reaiche sent Christmas cards and birthday cards to his family, but eventually he gave up.

He wishes he could show up to support the family at Masterson’s trial, but knows his presence would make everyone uncomfortable.

“There won’t be any weddings for me. I don’t know my grandkids. It’s hard. … But I suck at it,” he said. Seeing in court is not easy. That’s all I’m saying. It must be hard for them.”

Los Angeles Times

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