On the Tuesday, January 10, episode of Scientology and the Aftermath, Leah Remini was accused by the Church of Scientology of “inciting hate crimes,” so she paid a visit to the person who carried out the alleged crime she supposedly caused.
Making an Impact
Leah traveled to Los Angeles to see a family — Lois and Gary Reisdorf, and their sons Brandon, Brett and Craig — who the Church of Scientology insists is guilty of hate speech and hate crimes against religion. Brandon is bipolar and was in psychiatric care when Leah came around, but his family decided to allow him to be interviewed.
“This is taking it to a level that is so f–king vile to me as a person that I feel like I’m going to have to hire a f–king lawyer,” the King of Queens star exclaimed after she concluded the church must have been trying to smear her and ruin her career by accusing her of inciting hate crimes.
Lois was a high-ranking member of the church who served for 22 years. When Brandon had an episode, he was put in an “introspection rundown,” which involved weeks-long periods of isolation and intense interrogation because Scientologists don’t believe in psychology. Through all of that, Lois and Gary remained in contact with non-Scientologist family members, which got them expelled from the church in the end anyway.
Craig stayed behind, disconnecting from his family. Brandon didn’t cope well, so he threw a hammer through the church’s window. Ultimately, he was convicted of a felony for a hate crime, which enraged Leah because the church had “prevented him from getting the real medical help that he needed” by giving unsolicited psychiatric advice.
Even when he was finally taken into psychiatric care, he still believed what the church had told him about medication and wouldn’t take them until a court order was issued.
The "Write" and Wrong Ways to Fight Back
“That’s not true,” Brandon said when he heard the church was claiming Leah inspired him to throw a hammer through one of their windows. “It’s not true.”
He also said that now that he’s a felon, he’s been “destroyed.”
Later, Leah began to wonder if she could go to the FBI. Mike Rinder, a fellow former Scientologist who is also involved in the show, suggested they call up some journalists.
They reached out to John Sweeney, Tony Ortega and Mark Bunker, reporters who have not only investigated the church but who were targeted in smear campaigns run by Mike himself when he was still a parishioner. Sweeney revealed that though he’s reported on North Korea and Vladimir Putin, only his experiences being stalked by the church still give him nightmares; the other two shared similar stories of being allegedly followed, photographed, ambushed and intimidated by church members, possible paid protesters and private investigators.
Mike, who was once the person who directed such revenge activities, spoke to the veracity of their claims, but the journalists also had home video footage of themselves confronting parishioners who were following them.
“I can’t excuse those things,” Mike said of his “misguided” behavior. “I can only try to say, ‘This was my mindset at the time.’”
Finally, We Talk About Xenu (and to Some Lawyers!)
It was revealed that Leah herself was interviewed by Sweeney while she was in the church. At the time, she refused to acknowledge whether or not church members believe in “Xenu,” the intergalactic being who traveled to earth 75 million years ago, killed a bunch of people with bombs inside volcanos and basically started the religion.
The belief in Xenu is, according to Leah, “confidential information.” She revealed there is $100,000 fine any time someone reveals that type of information to someone outside of the church.
Next, Sweeney asked if her creation of the show was her way of saying “sorry” for perpetuating and promoting Scientology.
“Yes, of course,” she replied, though she then acknowledged that she expected every producer and staffer who worked on Scientology and the Aftermath to be stalked and intimidated, just like the three reporters were.
At the end of the episode, Leah and Mike traveled to New York to meet with lawyers about the possibility of taking legal action against the church. To preserve confidentiality, they couldn’t show Us what the lawyers said about whether it could be done.
The Church of Scientology has issued the following statement about the show: "Leah Remini is doing this show for the money, just as she profited from her book. In addition, she attempted to extort the Church by first demanding $500,000, followed by an additional $1 million, because the Church invoked its First Amendment right to respond to her false claims with the truth. This shows the extent Leah Remini is willing to go to in order to distort the truth about Scientology. For the Church’s perspective and the truth about the bullies she now supports, go to www.leahreminiaftermath.com. The church's rebuttal to Ortega's claim are here."
Tell Us: What do you make of the former members' claims?
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath airs on A&E Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET.
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