Leah Remini is standing behind director Paul Haggis amid allegations of sexual misconduct. The 47-year-old actress and Mike Rinder, her Scientology and the Aftermath costar, shared an open letter titled “Concerning Paul Haggis” defending the Oscar winner 64, via Rinder’s blog on Monday, January 15.
“Paul Haggis is a good man who has been a friend to us and so many others,” the cohosts wrote. “He has championed the rights of women, the LGBT community and has fought for and devoted himself to the underprivileged in the world … Like all go us, Paul Haggis is not perfect. Unlike a lot of us, he is truly a gentleman. A gentle man, with impeccable manners and a generous heart.”
Remini and Rinder dubbed the allegations as “suspect” and claimed that the Church of Scientology may be targeting Haggis, who was a member for 35 years before leaving in 2009. “Only a Scientologist can understand the pressure one feels to offer up even the slightest thing that the Scientology organization might consider a transgression of THEIR mores,” the King of Queens star and Rinder, who grew up in the church and left in 2007, wrote. “This information is used against anyone who departs Scientology and dares speak their mind. This is not imaginary. There is a documented history of such things. When someone is declared an ‘enemy’ by Scientology, they are fair game.”
The former Scientologists explained their belief that more women may accuse Haggis of misconduct: “We expect he next ‘revelations’ about Paul Haggis in this campaign to destroy him to be based on information culled from his Scientology files in the form of more ‘anonymous’ accusers, hiding behind a lawyer who will never have to disclose who is paying their bill.”
Added Remini and Rinder, “Those who accuse without going to law enforcement, those who seek hush money to keep their stories secret, those who make accusations to the media anonymously — they are suspect. And when the target of these tactics is someone who is a prominent critic of Scientology, it is very suspect.”
As previously reported, the filmmaker was accused of sexual misconduct by four women in a report published by the Associated Press on January 5. Two of the women who came forward with claims alleged that Haggis raped them.
Christine Lepera, a lawyer for the Million Dollar Baby director, denied the allegations in a statement to Us Weekly at the time. “Mr. Haggis denies these anonymous claims in whole,” the statement read. “In a society where one of a person’s fundamental rights is the ability to confront an accuser, that right has now been eviscerated when it comes to anyone being charged in the press with any sort of sexual misconduct. Notably, no one has reached out to Mr. Haggis’ team other than the press to report this.”
A spokesperson for the Church of Scientology responded to Remini and Rinder’s letter in a statement to Us Weekly on Monday. “Leah Remini, Paul Haggis and Mike Rinder have predictably thrown up a reprehensible smokescreen to turn horrific sexual assault and rape allegations made against Haggis by four women into a bigoted attack about their former religion,” the statement read. “To be clear, the church has never met the women in this case nor their attorneys and knows nothing about the accusations against Haggis other than what has appeared in press reports and public court documents.”
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