Leah Remini has spoken out in defense of Paul Haggis, accused by multiple women of assault. She reckons there's a more sinister agenda at play.
Taking A Stand
Haggis was accused earlier this month of four incidents of sexual assault and harassment. Two women even alleged rape, with one explicitly claiming that the filmmaker raped her after a film premiere back in 2013.
On his part, the Crash screenwriter denied the accusations, three of which were filed anonymously, telling AP via his lawyers that he unequivocally did not rape anybody.
In a rather bizarre twist, Leah Remini, along with Mike Rinder, her co-host on super-popular A&E show Scientology and the Aftermath, have rushed to Haggis's defense in an open letter. They also allege that the Church of Scientology may have played a role in the damning allegations being made against Haggis.
The letter, published on Rinder's blog, suggests that Haggis is being targeted by the Church, given his role (alongside Rinder and Remini) as a vocal and very public detractor of Scientology.
The director, who was a Scientologist for 35 years, finally left the Church in 2009. He appeared on Scientology and the Aftermath toward the end of last year. The show highlights former members' mostly negative experiences with the Church and discusses what really happens after they leave.
"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," they write in the letter.
Playing A Part
They go on to state that claims by anonymous accusers who have neglected to report to law enforcement officials are not credible. The explosive diatribe also suggests that any future accusations made against Haggis shouldn't be taken seriously either, engineered as they inevitably will be by the Church.
The two ex-members, along with several other prominent public figures, have claimed for years that Church hierarchy collect damning information about members in order to use it against them should any signs of dissent present themselves.
Remini and Rinder feel that this is all part of a smear campaign "to destroy him ... based on information culled from his scientology files," and that these so-called "anonymous accusers" will never disclose who's really footing their legal bills.
They draw a dubious connection between those who report anonymously and those who are public critics of the Church, describing the current situation as "very suspect." Haggis's accusers have denied any connection to or involvement with Scientology.
The two acknowledged that the letter and the defense of Haggis, an accused rapist, could be taken the wrong way in light of the #MeToo movement. However, they feel it necessary to make the public aware of the possible agenda behind these allegations even if the consequences for them personally are dire.
Remini and Rinder stated that standing up for what they believe is right is more important than being politically correct, particularly in the current climate.
The Church released a statement in response to the letter, describing it as a "smokescreen" meant to distract from the accusations themselves in order to protect their friend.
Haleigh Breest, a publicist, first accused Haggis of raping her in 2013 in a lawsuit filed in December of last year. The filmmaker countersued, describing her story as "extortion" and claiming Breest had previously approached him looking for a $9 million payout in exchange for keeping it out of the media.