Every day at 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 as well as his friend Chris Wadhams are convinced Scientologists. You’ve listened to the graphic testimonies of Masterson’s accusers without reaction, chatted quietly with him during the breaks, and walked 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. The former Australian professional rugby player, who was excommunicated from Scientology in 2005, said neither Masterson nor other family members have spoken to him since.
“When it happened, I cried. It’s my children. I raised my children and now they have turned against their father,” Reaiche said in an interview with The Times. “Not because of my decision, but because of the Church’s decision. That is the evil of separation.”
The “it,” Reaiche said, was the decision by church officials to designate him as a “suppressive person” — a designation that barred him from the religion and required other Scientologists to sever ties with him.
The concept hangs over the Masterson process. In a pretrial that outlined how much a jury would learn about the inner workings of the church, the judge allowed prosecutors to cite the religion’s policy of declaring adherents oppressive to explain why the alleged victims, who were raised as Scientologists were waiting a long time before reporting Masterson to the police.
Masterson is accused of raping three women between 2001 and 2003. The women claim he fed them alcohol before attacking them, and sometimes attacked them while they were unconscious. Scientology officials, they said, pressured them not to report the crimes to the police.
The two women, who have taken a stand so far in the trial, said they avoided going to prosecution for fear of being labeled as oppressive.
“That’s significant for a member of the Church,” Deputy Dist said. Attorney Reinhold Müller told the jury in his opening speech on the term “to be declared”.
“This means that the church and the members of the church have to break away from you. You are essentially an enemy of the Church. Your friends, your parents… they all need to break away from you.”
The Church of Scientology told the Times that the practice of declaring adherents oppressive is “very rare.” The Church also claims that it has no policy obliging Scientologists to stop talking to someone after they are found to be suppressive.
Declaring people oppressive is “no different than the practices of disfellowshipping, excommunication and shunning practiced by other religions when a member of a group engages in unethical behavior that harms the group as a whole,” Scientology said -Speaker Karin Pouw.
For Reaiche, the expulsion was quick and came before the church informed him of its decision, he said.
“I called some of my mates from 20, 25 years ago. Nobody answers. That’s weird. i call my kids Nobody answers,” he said.
The next day he received the letter.
“They let everyone know but me that I was declared,” Reaiche recalled. “Suddenly, overnight, it’s like they all died.”
Her fear of meeting that fate caused Jen B., one of Masterson’s alleged victims, to wait a year before reporting her rape to the Los Angeles Police Department, she testified. Like the other accusers, the woman will be identified by her first name and last initial in court records and during testimony to protect her privacy.
As a second-generation Scientologist, Jen B. said she thought her friends and parents would cast her out if she reported Masterson.
“I was a Scientologist and Mr. Masterson is a Scientologist and you cannot report another Scientologist in good standing to the authorities,” she testified. “My understanding is that I would be guilty of a ‘felony’ immediately. High crime is punished with expulsion from Scientology. … You can’t speak, have contact, anything with a person who’s been expelled. Declared a suppressive person would be the label I would receive.”
Jen B. wrote a letter in April 2004 to Mike Ellis, the church’s director of international justice.
“I am writing to you for help. I want permission to file criminal and civil charges [against Masterson] when I feel like I’m up to it and not afraid of being sued,” she wrote, according to the letter, which was used as evidence at the trial.
In his response, Ellis did not allay her fears, prosecutors said.
“Mr. Ellis’ response a few days later tells her that she must carefully consider the alternatives and consequences. For Jen B., that meant she could not go to the police or be declared,” Mueller said in his opening statement.
The Church of Scientology denies that people are 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 labeled suppressive. She didn’t tell anyone outside the church about the rape for ten years, prosecutors said. She waited 15 years before reporting it to the police.
“If you had been declared a suppressive person, what effect would that have had on you?” Mueller asked the woman during her testimony.
“I’m afraid I wouldn’t have survived that back then,” answered Christina B.
Christina B. left the church herself in 2016. Her friends, who were Scientologists, broke up with her entirely, according to her lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and Masterson.
According to her 2016 lawsuit, Jen B. was declared a suppressive person after she reported her rape to police.
Reaiche had been away from the church years before he was kicked out, he said.
“They were too excited at church and I was watching from the side,” Reaiche recalled of his 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 then worked as an athletic trainer for Danny and Chris Masterson. They secured roles in major Hollywood shows.
Reaiche moved to Atlanta in 2004 and said his ties to the church were severed when “a call came and I was summoned [to Florida] to appear before an Evidence Committee within 24 hours.”
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 late-night hours questioning him over allegations that he had used Scientology practices and teachings in a “squirrel format” – church jargon for an unsanctioned manner.
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 their teachings.
Six months later, Reaiche was declared oppressive. He claimed the church put him before a “kangaroo court” and that denying the charges did not help his case.
“In November 2002, Joe used squirrel ethics technology on a non-Scientologist to ‘introduce’ her to Scientology,” officials wrote in the order they issued, declaring Reaiche a suppressive figure.
For a while, Reaiche sent Christmas 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 will be no weddings for me. I don’t know my grandchildren. It’s tough. … But I suck it up,” he said. “Nevertheless, this is my family. Seeing you in court is not easy. That’s all I’m saying. It must be hard for her.”
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-31/danny-masterson-stepfather Masterson’s accusers feared being kicked out of Scientology. His stepfather lived it