Ex-Scientologist actor Leah Remini, along with her Scientology and the Aftermath co-host Mike Rinder, have written a lengthy open letter on the sexual assault allegations levelled against Canadian director Paul Haggis. The letter was posted to Rinder’s website, which regularly features posts about Scientology.
Remini’s and Rinder’s show seeks to bring down the religion, claiming it damages lives, families and livelihoods.
Haggis famously left the Church of Scientology in 2009 after 35 years in the religion. (Remini and Rinder left in 2013 and 2007, respectively.) He appeared in an episode of Aftermath in Season 2 of the show, which ended in the fall of 2017.
In the first week of January, a civil lawsuit was filed against Haggis by three women who claim various forms of sexual misconduct against him, including rape.
When asked about the new accusations, Christine Lepera, attorney for the 64-year-old screenwriter of Million Dollar Baby and Crash, said, “He didn’t rape anybody.”
“Mr. Haggis denies these anonymous claims in whole,” said Lepera in an email to ET Canada. “In a society where one of a person’s fundamental rights is the ability to confront an accuser, that right has now been eviscerated when it comes to anyone being charged in the press with any sort of sexual misconduct.”
Remini and Rinder contend that Haggis deserves judgment after considering all evidence, and they clearly point to Scientology as a potential instigator for the Haggis charges. (Indeed, there are numerous stories about Scientology famously going to great lengths to silence its critics and defectors.)
“Paul Haggis deserves, based on his record as a gentleman and humanitarian, to be judged when all the evidence has been taken under penalty of perjury in a court of law,” wrote the co-hosts. “Because claims of anonymous accusers who have NOT gone to law enforcement are not credible.”
The co-hosts go on to explain how Scientology allegedly gathers information about its members.
They then explain their thoughts on the accusations against Haggis, and how these “revelations” may be part of a campaign to bring down the director. They cite the accusers’ anonymity as a tried-and-true Scientology tactic.
On Aftermath, Haggis said that Remini was the only person who didn’t ostracize him after he left Scientology.
Remini and Rinder address the current climate at the start of their letter, understanding that they may receive backlash from the masses. It’s not about “not believing” the women, but rather their distrust in Scientology that led them to write the letter and defend Haggis.
“There is plenty of reason to worry about defending anyone accused of sexual assault,” they wrote. “But the fear of consequences for speaking our truth has not held us back in the past and isn’t about to start now. We have avoided trial by media.”
The Church of Scientology has not commented on the charges against Haggis.
None of these accusations has been proven in court, and Haggis has not been charged with any crime.