Church of Scientology tried to silence Danny Masterson’s alleged rape victims: suit


Danny Masterson, who made a wisecracking name for himself on “That ’70s Show,” was arrested and charged June 17 on multiple counts of rape against three women. But it’s not just the actor who is on trial.

The accusers are all former members of the Church of Scientology, to which the 44-year-old actor is said to be devoted. Previously, four women, including the three from the criminal charges, filed a civil suit against Danny and the church, accusing the church of harassing them for having reported the ­alleged assaults to authorities.

One of the attorneys for the civil suit, Stewart Ryan, said: “It is alleged [in the suit] that our clients reported the sexual assaults to Scientology at the times that they happened. It is alleged in the suit that Scientology attempted to cover up the sexual assaults.”

In a response to The Post, the church denied all claims against it from the civil suit.

The sole victim identified by name in the criminal filing, Chrissie Carnell Bixler, dated Danny from 1996 until 2001 and claims to have been drugged and raped, multiple times, in the actor’s Hollywood Hills home.

According to the amended civil complaint: “On more than one occasion Plaintiff Bixler awoke in bed to find Masterson sexually assaulting her. In one specific instance, Masterson drugged . . . Bixler’s wine at dinner and anally assaulted her. The following morning, Masterson admitted that he had anal sex with her while she was unconscious.”

Danny has insisted that he is ­innocent of all civil and criminal charges. His lawyer Thomas Mesereau described the actor as ­“being in complete shock” over “nearly 20-year-old allegations.” Former Scientologists, however, see good reason for the delay.

They maintain that it would have been challenging for authorities to gain cooperation from ­alleged victims while they remained affiliated with the church. Bixler left in 2016.

Ex-Scientologist Geoff Levin alleged that, in a situation like this, church protocol would have been to deal with the allegations in-house and to take the women through “security checks.”

“Maybe you’d be directed into finding that, 10 million years ago, you enslaved a whole city and ­allowed your soldiers to rape all the women,” Levin added. “[And] that is the reason why this is happening to you now. It is brainwashing to the Nth degree.”

Ryan, the lawyer, told The Post that it “is accurate” that the women experienced intimidation tactics by the church. “It was part of the pressure campaign to force them into ­silence.”

Indeed, the civil suit details allegations of such tactics. In it, Bixler claims that she was stalked by church members and filmed; that “an agent of [Scientology]” spit on her after she caught him trying to hack her phone; and that there were threats to leak nude photos of an underage Bixler. According to the suit, she believes that Scientology representatives contributed to the deaths of two of her family’s pets.

“It is brainwashing to the Nth degree.”

 – Former Scientologist Geoffrey Levin on how the church silences people like the alleged assault victims

Tony Ortega, editor of The Underground Bunker, a Scientology-investigating website, said: “[Founder] L. Ron Hubbard called [such procedures] noisy investigations. Not only do they surveil you, but they want you to know it via very creepy encounters. They want to convince you to stop ­exposing Scientology because it causes too many emotional issues in your life.”

From the start, Scientology was a family affair for Danny.

The son of an insurance-broker father, Peter, and mother Carol, Danny grew up in Albertson, Long Island, with his younger brother Chris. His parents divorced in 1984, and, according to Joe Reaiche, who would marry Carol the next year, all were members of the church.

When The Post called Peter’s home, a woman who answered said: “You are not speaking with my husband. My stepson is innocent of the ridiculous money-grabbing charges.”

Carol and Joe had met through Scientology prior to her divorce. Joe recalled trying to help Danny and Chris — who would go on to play Francis on “Malcolm in the Middle” from 2000 to 2006 — make it in showbiz. “Carol was the boys’ manager and we both drove them to auditions,” Joe told The Post. “Danny is Carol’s first born and, of course, she adores him as she does all her kids.”

Danny once crowed to Paper magazine that he recognized Scientology as a good fit by the time he was 15. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is f–king awesome.’ ”

Levin, whose son was friends with Masterson’s step-siblings, remembers Danny displaying “a type of arrogance that Scientology instills in you. It gives you a kind of confidence that is helpful for ­people who want to be actors.”

It must have worked. “Danny moved to LA for pilot season when he was 17 in 1993,” Joe said. The aspiring actor landed “That ’70s Show” in 1998 — and launched his family into what’s been described to The Post as “second-tier celebrity status” within Scientology.

It got the Mastersons into Celebrity Centre, the VIP quarters of Scientology in Los Angeles, where elite members gain access to private classrooms and convenient parking — and the chance to rub elbows with fellow members John Travolta and Tom Cruise. Danny established himself as a famous face of the church and a booster at various fundraising events. He was spotted strutting around LA in a T-shirt emblazoned with “Psychiatrists are here. Hide your children!” in support of the church’s anti-psychiatry party line.

It boosted his family, too, who had moved full-time to LA in 1993.

“Once the boys got their big roles, we were considered a celebrity family,” said Joe. “It resonated for all of us. We were all welcome at the Celebrity Centre.”

Dreaming of their own Hollywood careers, Joe’s kids, Jordan and Alanna, decided to use their successful half-brothers’ surname.

Danny, Levin said, “was cocky. Though Carol [a high-level and well-regarded Scientologist] ruled the family with an iron fist, the kids still did whatever they wanted and kept it under their hats.”

The Masterson kids fell in with Scientology’s budding bold-facers — even though, according to Ortega, Danny and his siblings never reached the church’s midlevel, known as “clear.”

Danny’s little sister Alanna was spotted hanging out with Connor Cruise — Scientology elite and the son of Tom — in 2013. At the time, Joe fretted to the Daily Mail that Connor “is the worst person for my daughter to be around. The more she is around him, the deeper into the church she goes.”

As the Hollywood careers of Chris (from left), Danny, Alanna and Jordan Masterson took off, so did their Scientology status.
As the Hollywood careers of Chris (from left), Danny, Alanna and Jordan Masterson took off, so did their Scientology status.Frazer Harrison

According to Levin, “Danny was part of the young Hollywood clique. He ran with Jason Lee [who has since left the church], Giovanni Ribisi, Laura Prepon and [‘Grounded for Life’] sitcom actress Lynsey Bartilson.”

(A source noted that Prepon, Danny’s co-star on “That ’70s Show,” is not currently active in the church.)

Beyond that, a family source told The Post, “I think the Hollywood environment changed [Danny]. Lots of freedom and partying . . . Scientology unfortunately treats its celebrities and big-money donors differently. They will let various celebrities get away with s–t and turn a blind eye.”

According to Ortega: “One of the rules of Scientology is that celebrities get to break all the rules. They are not held to the same standards.”

A representative for the church denied these claims.

The question remains: Will Scientology stand by Danny if he is convicted?

“The church could easily turn on Danny if they felt they had to,” a family source told The Post. “But they won’t as he is too high-profile.”

Mike Rinder, a former church member and outspoken detractor whose role in Scientology was to deal with the highest of the church’s highest-profile celebrities, is less sure.

“It’s a tenuous situation,” he told The Post. “It depends entirely on Masterson taking a plea deal. If he takes a plea deal and coughs up to [the allegations], which will implicate a number of Scientologists, they will cut him off. They will say, ‘We threw you out years ago.’ ”

But, Rinder said, that would be a last-ditch effort. “They all have to stay on the same page and keep their stories straight,” he speculated. “Scientology is afraid that if they condemn Danny, he will turn on them. It may be in his interest to keep ­everybody on the same team, coming up with the same defense.”

Reaiche was excommunicated from the church in 2005, 10 years after he and Carol divorced; he is estranged from his kids and stepkids as a result. He was declared a “suppressive” person by the church, and members are ordered to cut off all contact with any “SP,” even their own parent or child.

But Reaiche knows his family well enough to know that, unless Danny left the church himself, they will support him — as a son, brother and Scientologist — no matter what. Describing the Mastersons as “inseparable,” he added, “They are not going to turn on Danny. No way. They love him too much. And he did the right thing by them all his life.”


https://pagesix.com/2020/06/27/church-of-scientology-tried-to-silence-danny-mastersons-alleged-rape-victims-suit/

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: