Does the Church of Scientology Have Anything to Do with Danny Masterson’s Stalled Rape Case?

*Trigger warning*: this story contains details about sexual assaults of an abusive nature that some readers may find disturbing

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Actor Danny Masterson posing in a blue plaid shirt

(Photo: Getty)

Updated on Dec. 5: Netflix recently released a statement indicating that Danny Masterson will not be appearing in any episodes of The Ranch after the part four premiere on Dec. 15. “As a result of ongoing discussions, Netflix and the producers have written Danny Masterson out of ‘The Ranch,’” reads the Netflix statement, as published on Variety. “Yesterday was his last day on the show, and production will resume in early 2018 without him.”

Actor Danny Masterson is one of the many men in Hollywood accused of sexual assault, but unlike Louis C.K. or Ed Westwick, Masterson has not been forced out of his current projects—including his Netflix show The Ranch—as a result. Despite what has been reported as “compelling” evidence against him, it doesn’t seem like the 41-year-old will face consequences anytime soon, and we have an admittedly outlandish theory why. (It involves Scientology.)

The high-profile Scientologist and former star of That ’70s Show is accused of violently raping four women. In March, journalist Tony Ortega broke the news that the Los Angeles Police Department were investigating Masterson and the Church of Scientology after three women said Masterson raped and/or sodomized them in the early 2000s. The women, who were Scientologists themselves at the time of the alleged incidents, said that the church pressured them not to contact police or go public with their accusations. (One of the key policies in Scientology is that members don’t go to the police to report other Scientologists, as doing so is considered a “suppressive act.”)

Then, in early November, it was revealed that the investigation into Masterson and the church was stalled “despite the Los Angeles County district attorney having compelling evidence in the case,” the Huffington Post reported.

Netflix has since confirmed it renewed The Ranch, a show Masterson stars in and produces with friend Ashton Kutcher, despite being aware of the investigation and allegations against Masterson. Netflix told the Huffington Post that they “will respond if developments occur.” This is very different from its response to Kevin Spacey; the streaming service publicly cut ties with the award-winning actor after he was accused of sexual assault. Odd? We think so.

Following the “stalled” case and news that Netflix was continuing to work with Masterson, another woman came forward with allegations against Masterson and the Church of Scientology. Chrissie Carnell Bixler told the Daily Beast that Masterson raped her, and when she went to the church to report the assault, they allegedly said, “Danny Masterson is a celebrity. He flourishes and prospers in life. You protect that and reward that.”

“I was sick when I read Netflix’s statement on continuing with The Ranch and continuing their working relationship with a man who has violently raped and abused so many women,” Carnell Bixler told the Daily Beast.

“Four months after the story broke, and the LAPD confirmed a criminal investigation, Netflix ordered another season of The Ranch… For me, what Netflix has done, feels like a continuation of how the Church of Scientology made me feel when I reported my rape to them, as well as how Danny Masterson made me feel when I would beg him for an apology, an explanation, anything. I was made to feel unimportant.”

Carnell Bixler’s husband, musician Cedric Bixler-Zavala, also spoke out against the church.

Forgive us for our out-there theory, but something here is not adding up.

It’s pretty well-established that there are powerful people inside Scientology who have sway in the entertainment industryA-list members of the church include John Travolta, Tom Cruise and reportedly Will Smith. (That explains how Travolta’s Battlefield Earth and Smith’s After Earth, which were both critically panned, got made, tbh.) But those celebs, particularly Travolta and Cruise, are reportedly strongly influenced by the church’s leader, David Miscavige. What’s more, the church is reportedly in financial trouble, and they rely on their famous members to bring money—and members—in. So, serious allegations against a fellow Scientologist ain’t good for business.

Which means it’s not outside the realm of possibility that a powerful member of the church is putting pressure on Netflix to keep Masterson’s show going…is it?

Hear us out. It may sound ridiculous at first, but crazier things have happened. To understand the kind of sway powerful people in Hollywood have, you don’t have to look any further than Harvey Weinstein and his decades-long run of alleged sexual assaults and habit of paying women off. Weinstein legit built a team of spies, as reported by The New Yorker, to keep tabs on the women and journalists who knew too much about him. I repeat: a team of spies.

In recent years, Scientology has become known for their alleged silencing tactics, including intimidating, threatening and going after those who speak out against them. In Leah Remini’s docu-series, Scientology and the Aftermath, the actor sheds light on the dark side of the religion she was once a part of, including alleged cases of sexual abuse—including those against Masterston—and attempts by the church to separate members from non-believing family and friends.

Masterson, who grew up in a family that practised Scientology and said he became very interested in the religion when he was 15 years old, denies the allegations and says the “false” claims of rape are an attempt to “boost” Remini’s “anti-Scientology television series.” But the church’s reaction is even more telling: In response to Remini’s show and her allegations against Scientology, the church launched a website against her.

Lastly, we don’t know if Masterson’s longtime publicist, Jenni Weinman, is a Scientologist herself, but she has repped other famous members of the church, including actors Bodhi Elfman (husband of Dharma and Greg star Jenna Elfman) and Eric Balfour (best known for his role in the sci fi show Haven). In a 2016 phone call between Weinman and an unnamed woman who says Masterson raped her, which was obtained by Huffington Post, Weinman is heard suggesting that a woman can’t be raped by a man she’s in a relationship with. As reported by the outlet, two of the women who allege they were raped by the actor were in relationships with him at the time. The women say that Masterson assaulted them after spiking their drinks, which caused them to slip in and out of consciousness.

The women also say that Weinman “played an integral part in covering up Masterson’s alleged crimes,” by “threatening, cajoling and lying to victims in an effort to silence them.” Weinman denies these allegations.

While this is all speculation, we know the topic of our next investigation obsession: is anyone at Netflix connected to Scientology?

If you have been sexually harassed or assaulted, contact the Assaulted Women’s Helpline at 1-866-863-0511 or find a rape crisis centre or women’s centre in your province via The Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres

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