Leah Remini slaps Church of Scientology with harassment, defamation lawsuit

FILE - Leah Remini on Aug. 2, 2023, filed a lawsuit against the Church of Scientology alleging the organization she formerly belonged to has harassed, stalked and defamed her. Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

UPDATE: Days after Leah Remini hit the Church of Scientology with a lawsuit accusing the organization and its leader David Miscavige of harassment, stalking, defamation and other illegal activities, the church has responded with a statement calling the actor a “horrible person” and “toxic,” among other things.

“This lawsuit is ludicrous and the allegations pure lunacy. Remini spreads hate and falsehoods for a decade and is now offended when people exercise their right to free speech, exposing her for what she is – an anti-free speech bigot,” the statement reads.

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The Church says it is not intimidated by Remini and her accusations and suggests she consider “emigrating to Russia.”

ORIGINAL: Actor Leah Remini is suing the Church of Scientology and its leader David Miscavige for harassment, stalking, defamation and myriad other alleged illegal activities.

Remini, a former Scientologist and vocal critic of the organization, has accused the church of using “mob-style operations and attacks” to harass her and other ex-members.

Miscavige is named specifically in the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in the California Superior Court. The Religious Technology Center, which Remini said polices and enforces punishments doled out by the church, is also named in the filing.

In a press release, Remini said she initiated the lawsuit to make the church cease its alleged “harassment, defamation, and other unlawful conduct against anyone who Scientology has labeled as an ‘enemy.'”

The Church of Scientology and Miscavige have not commented publicly on the lawsuit.

Remini, 53, joined the Church of Scientology as a child in 1979. She left over three decades later in 2013.

The Emmy-winning King of Queens actor is now seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the harm she claims the Church of Scientology inflicted on her and her career.

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“For 17 years, Scientology and David Miscavige have subjected me to what I believe to be psychological torture, defamation, surveillance, harassment, and intimidation, significantly impacting my life and career,” Remini said in the press release. “I believe I am not the first person targeted by Scientology and its operations, but I intend to be the last.”

She went on to argue the church attempted to “totally restrain and muzzle,” “obliterate” and “ruin” her through co-ordinated campaigns of harassment, defamation and abuse. She claimed her family, friends, business partners, and associates were also targeted by the church for interacting with her.

Remini alleged she lost several business contracts because of meddling and external threats from the church.

She also claimed the church hired a private investigator to stalk her. Remini said on several occasions people were directed by the Church of Scientology to attempt to break into her home or surveil her.

Remini said she wants to use her constitutional rights as an American to “speak the truth and report the facts about Scientology.”

In a separate social media statement, Remini said the alleged harassment she experienced from the church is not solitary. She said she has been “one of thousands of targets of Scientology over the past seven decades.”

“People who share what they’ve experienced in Scientology, and those who tell their stories and advocate for them, should be free to do so without fearing retaliation from a cult with tax exemption and billions in assets,” Remini wrote on Twitter.

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Mike Rinder, a former senior executive of the Church of Scientology, voiced his support for Remini and her lawsuit shortly after it was announced on Tuesday.

“The Warrior Princess has struck another blow for all victims of scientology,” he wrote. “This takes courage as all they know to do is retaliate with more hate and harassment. One thing I know — they won’t succeed in silencing @LeahRemini.”

Rinder left the church in 2007 and has since been outspoken about the alleged physical and mental abuse inflicted upon church members at the hands of Miscavige.

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Since leaving the Church of Scientology, Remini has consistently criticized the religious organization and Miscavige for serious abuses of power.

In 2016, she released the documentary series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, which she produced and co-created. The series won three Emmy awards.

In November 2022, Remini testified in court to claim the Church of Scientology falsely planted rape allegations against film director Paul Haggis, who left the church in 2009. Haggis was ordered to pay US$10 million to a woman who said he sexually assaulted her nearly a decade ago.

Click to play video: 'Leah Remini defends director Paul Haggis amid sexual assault allegations'
Leah Remini defends director Paul Haggis amid sexual assault allegations

Remini was also present in court during the April re-trial of That ’70s Show actor Danny Masterson, who is a Scientologist. She claimed Masterson’s lawyers tried to have her thrown out of the courtroom over incorrect assumptions she would be called as a witness to the trial. She said the church and Miscavige were trying to “waste the court’s time with embarrassing, petty attempts to get someone who is supporting survivors of sexual violence thrown out.”

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During Masterson’s trial, it was revealed two lawyers formerly representing the actor leaked sensitive trial information to the Church of Scientology about the women who accused Masterson of rape. Masterson was found guilty of two counts of rape.

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