Inside Danny Masterson's life as a Scientologist: How actor grew up in a close family dedicated to its teachings until his dad was kicked out for rejecting them while church lawyers 'protected' devoted star when rape claims first emerged

The Church Of Scientology played a major role in Danny Masterson's rape trial

Masterson was found him guilty on two of three counts of rape at his second trial

Daily Mail, UK/June 1. 2023

By Christian Oliver

Danny Masterson was led out in handcuffs from a Los Angeles courtroom on Wednesday as a jury found him guilty on two of three counts of rape at his second trial.

Masterson's wife, actor and model Bijou Phillips, gasped when the verdict was read and wept as he was taken into custody, while a group of family and friends who sat stone-faced behind him throughout both trials.

The jury of seven women and five men reached the verdict after deliberating for seven days spread over two weeks. They could not reach a verdict on the third count, that alleged Masterson raped a longtime girlfriend. They had voted 8-4 in favor of conviction.

The verdict was damning for the former That '70's Show Star, who could get 30 years to life in prison. But perhaps most revealing was the role that the Church of Scientology played in the trial.

From his early childhood to today, the Church of Scientology has been a mainstay in the convicted rapist's life, and he has even sought to hit out at those who have disparaged his beliefs.

Masterson grew up in a family that practiced Scientology.  His step-father Joe Reaiche and mother Carole Masterson had been members of the Sea Org, the 'clergy' of the controversial faith.

Danny Masterson was nine when his parents moved into the Sea Org's Clearwater, Florida, headquarters, having signed obligatory contracts vowing allegiance to the church for 'a billion years.'

Joe previously told in 2015 how being a Sea Org was tantamount to 'slave labor' as he and Carole worked 60 or 70 hour weeks for $30 a week.

'You're basically signing your soul away,' he said. 'And it goes from bad to worse at that point,' he said.

Joe said he decided to part with the church after seeing the punishments they rolled out.

He recalled in 2015: 'I saw things. People in their boiler room outfits with a black band on their left arm and they have to run from station to station, they can't talk, they can't eat with the rest of the members.

'They're basically ridiculed and abused. It's horrible but that's what happens. Once you're in it you just say you've got to avoid it.

Joe and his wife left the Sea Orgs in 1986 and they became lay members of the church. Their family uprooted to California and the children, including Danny, started to audition for acting roles.

Joe then got a job in New York and the family moved to Garden City in Long Island where, in 1988, Alanna was born.

Both Carole and Joe were still taking course after course on the Church of Scientology's insistence that it was necessary and shelling out tens of thousands of dollars each year.

It became a strain on their relationship with the church and on the marriage. A failed business venture that ended up costing him thousands placed even more pressure on the already strained union and, in 1995, Carole and Joe divorced.

By then, Joe admitted, he was 'just done' with Scientology. He said in 2015: 'You begin to lose the faith and you start to see that you're buying the idea of being a supreme being but that's not being delivered.

'And you can't see anyone for whom it is being delivered. They said they could deliver telekinesis and I started to question can they really deliver the product?

'It's like I went to buy a Ferrari for $180,000 and you deliver a Mazda or a Toyota, then you've ripped me off. You've deceived me.'

Joe had been determined to stay on good terms with his ex-wife and children so he tried to avoid any confrontation with the church.

But in the eyes of the church Joe had traduced Hubbard's teachings and technologies and his ex-wife Carole had reported him to the church.

In October 2004 Joe was summoned but couldn't come as he was in Atlanta on business. It wasn't until January 2005 that he ended up in front of a Court of Ethics in Clearwater, Florida.

Joe said it was a 'kangaroo court' and that he 'knew it was going to be a hatchet job'.

Eventually Joe was formally shunned and deemed a 'suppressive person' for questioning certain teachings.

He tried to make contact with his family and friends in the church but no one would answer him. Ever since, he has had no contact with Matterson or any other of his children or step-children.

He told in 2015: 'I love my kids. Maybe I'll bump into them one day. They're probably going to be shocked. But I'm just going to say: 'I love you. I hope you do well. I'll miss you for the rest of my life. I'll always be your dad'.'

As for Danny Masterson's personal relationship with Scientology, he opened up about his membership of the church in an interview with Paper Magazine in 2015.

'In Scientology, there's no belief system or anyone who's worshipped or whatnot; it's all sort of like college of the mind,' the now-convicted rapist told the publication.

'And so I grew up not having to go and pray to anyone. I grew up just sort of like, 'Oh, if you're thirsty, drink water'.'

Masterson said it wasn't until highschool that he started taking his participation in the church more seriously. He said he read Dianetics, a book of ideas written by the Church Of Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard

It wasn't until Masterson was 15 years old - when both Joe and Carole were both lay members of the church - that he started to study the book Dianetics: The Modern Science Of Mental Health, a set of pseudoscientific ideas created by the Church's founder L. Ron Hubbard that studies the 'metaphysical relationship' between the mind and body.

'[Hubbard] basically spent his entire life studying every great religion, found everything that worked, found things that didn't work, took the stuff that worked, started like questioning it and grilling it and drilling it, going over and over until he could find the things that worked every time, guaranteed,' Masterson said.

Masterson has continually remained loyal to the highly controversial church and has hit out at those questioning his beliefs.

He told Paper Magazine: 'I work, I have a family and I'm a spiritual being who likes to understand why things happen in the world and want to learn more so that I can have them not affect me adversely.

'So if that's weird, then, well, you can go f*** yourself.'

The Church of Scientology has also played a major role in his recent rape trial. The judge allowed expert testimony on church policy from a former official in Scientology leadership who has become a prominent opponent.

The church said in a statement after the jury's verdict on Matterson on Wednesday that the 'introduction of religion into this trial was an unprecedented violation of the First Amendment and affects the due process rights of every American.

'The Church was not a party to this case and religion did not belong in this proceeding as Supreme Court precedent has maintained for centuries.'

Tensions were running high in the courtroom between current and former Scientologists, and even leaked into testimony, with the accusers saying on the stand that they felt intimidated by some members in the room.

Actor Leah Remini, a former member who has become the church's highest-profile critic, sat in on the trial at times, putting her arm around one of the accusers to comfort her during closing arguments.

Remini said on Twitter that the two guilty verdicts in the retrial are 'a relief. The women who survived Danny Masterson's predation are heroes. For years, they and their families have faced vicious attacks and harassment from Scientology and Danny's well-funded legal team,' she posted. 'Nevertheless, they soldiered on, determined to seek justice.'

The alleged harassment is the subject of a civil lawsuit filed by two of the accusers.

The Scientology statement said 'there is not a scintilla of evidence supporting the scandalous allegations that the Church harassed the accusers.'

Founded in 1953 by L. Ron Hubbard, the Church of Scientology has many members who work in Hollywood. The judge kept limits on how much prosecutors could talk about the church, and primarily allowed it to explain why the women took so long to go to authorities.

The women testified that when they reported Masterson to church officials, they were told they were not raped, were put through ethics programs themselves, and were warned against going to law enforcement to report a member of such high standing.

'They were raped, they were punished for it, and they were retaliated against,' Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller told jurors in his closing argument. 'Scientology told them there's no justice for them.'

The church called the 'testimony and descriptions of Scientology beliefs' during the trial 'uniformly false.'

'The Church has no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of anyone - Scientologists or not - to law enforcement,' the statement said.

Next week Olmedo will hold a hearing to determine how a lawyer who represents the Church of Scientology had evidence that the prosecution had shared with the defense. The evidence involved links that the lawyer accidentally included in an email to Mueller.

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