Leah Remini stepped to Paul Haggis’ side to defend the Oscar-winning filmmaker against accusations of sexual misconduct and assault.
Remini and her Scientology and the Aftermath co-host Mike Rinder wrote an open letter on Monday to address the allegations against Haggis, their friend and fellow ex-member of Scientology.
“Paul Haggis is a good man who has been a friend to us and so many others. He has championed the rights of women, the LGBT community and has fought for and devoted himself to the underprivileged in the world,” they wrote on Rinder’s blog. “These are not ‘PR stunts’ — he has devoted his time, skill and money to worthy causes without fanfare for decades.”
Remini and Rinder wrote that while Haggis “is not perfect,” he is a gentleman. The trio appeared together in an episode of Remini’s docuseries exposing the immoral and illegal practices of Scientology, an organization from which they each removed themselves in recent years.
Rather than believe Haggis’ accusers, Remini and Rinder suggested that Haggis’ former admissions within the church have been used to craft these falsified allegations.
Haggis has been accused by four women of sexual misconduct, the Associated Press reported earlier this month. Three of the women came forward anonymously, and two of the accusations against him allege rape.
They believe Scientologists are using the information the Million Dollar Baby screenwriter offered up in audit meetings, including admissions of flirtation, attraction or sexual relations. Once he was declared an “enemy” of the church, these previous admissions have been placed together to “conjure a string of accusers… suddenly appearing out of the woodwork,” they claimed.
Haggis left the church in 2009 after 35 years, then he became one of the most famous former members to speak out against Scientology practices.
Remini and Rinder continued to theorize about reports still to come with Haggis’ name in the headlines as part of the church’s effort to “destroy” him.
“We expect the 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,” they wrote.
While the pair has focused on highlighting victims of abuse, among other things, under the guise of Scientology, they condemn Haggis’ accusers for never contacting police.
“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,” they wrote. “And when the target of these tactics is someone who is a prominent critic of scientology, it is very suspect.”
“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,” Remini and Rinder wrote.
They added that claims by anonymous accusers who have not spoken to law enforcement should not be viewed as credible.
Haggis as denied all allegations through his lawyer. His attorney went on to allege that his accuser, publicist Haleigh Breest, and the anonymous accusers, have come forward as part of a smear campaign “from the law firm representing Ms. Breest… to try to harm him and continue their effort to obtain money.”
The filmmaker also cited his previous association with Scientology as being potentially linked to the accusations.