The co-hosts of A&E series Scientology and the Aftermath are defending fellow ex-Scientologist Paul Haggis, suggesting the church may be behind sexual misconduct accusations against him, which include two allegations of rape. In an open letter, Leah Remini and Mike Rinder say it is "very suspect" when people "seek hush money" or choose to make accusations anonymously, especially when their "target" is a prominent critic of Scientology, which they accuse of persecuting former members, Variety reports. They predict that the "campaign to destroy" the filmmaker will soon feature "more 'anonymous' accusers," using information culled from his Scientology files. Haggis, 64, left Scientology in 2009 after 35 years, citing the organization's "hate-filled" stance against same-sex marriage.
Haggis is being sued by publicist Haleigh Breest, who says he raped her in 2013. She says she has nothing to do with Scientology. In their letter, Remini and Rinder say they realize their remarks will be controversial in a time of "heightened awareness of sexual predators," but "more important to us than being politically correct is standing up for what we believe is right." The Church of Scientology responded to the letter by accusing Remini and Rinder of throwing up a "reprehensible smokescreen" to turn the allegations against Harris into a "bigoted attack on their former religion," Deadline reports. The church notes that the other accusers are on record to the AP "as stating that they are not Scientologists—as if an alleged rape victim's religion should matter." (Read more Paul Haggis stories.)