Oscar winning director-writer Paul Haggis left the cult of Scientology in a big way: he participated in both Lawrence Wright’s award winning book “Going Clear” and the Alex Gibney documentary of the same name. He was also featured in Leah Remini’s award winning A&E series “Aftermath” which has unmasked a lot of Scientology’s secrets.
Scientology, notable for retribution, didn’t seem to do anything to get him back. They made their usual fake websites and carried on, but there was no big explosion.
So…wait for it.
Haggis is now embroiled in dueling lawsuits from a young woman who allegedly extorted him, claiming rape and demanding $9 million for her silence. Then more women — these, anonymously– turned up, making accusations but not following through in any other way. It was just bad publicity. Last week, the Hollywood Reporter carried a first person account from an anonymous woman, a broadside attack with no facts.
Is this simply Scientology taking advantage of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements? The answer is Yes.
Last week, I spoke to two former Scientologists–one a woman, the other her colleague– who’ve known Haggis for decades. They each worked for Hollywood guilds that Haggis belonged to– I promised not to reveal which ones.
Each of these former Scientologists told me similar stories: a very high placed Scientology executive had asked them recently for dirt on Haggis. “Anything to do with women,” the exec said.
The gist of it: the Scientology exec had called, pressuring her to get information illegally from Haggis’s confidential guild records to see if there had been complaints made against him of a sexual nature. “He had also asked if she was aware of any industry rumors about Paul related to violent behavior toward women,” one of them said in a signed statement. The colleague corroborated the friend.
One of the Scientologists said in a signed statement: “The idea was so outrageous to me, I told him flat out, “no.” I told him he was asking me to break the law. I would never do that. Those files are highly confidential.” When she balked, the Scientology exec tried to convince her that he already had someone to speak against Haggis. “We have a woman,” the exec told her.
I believe these women. There was nothing in Haggis’s past or present to indicate any kind of violent behavior, let alone rape. Scientology is infamous for causing problems for ex-members. Remini has explained this very carefully in her A&E series. I’ve protected the identities of these Scientologists even though they’ve given me signed statements. They’re so scared they said they’d only talk about this “in a locked car in an empty parking lot.”