A four-day preliminary hearing at the Los Angeles County Superior Court last week focused as much on rape charges against actor Danny Masterson as on the practices of the Church of Scientology. Judge Charlaine Olmedo, who allowed the case to proceed to trial, concluded Masterson's three alleged victims didn't go to police for years because the church has "an expressly written doctrine" that "prohibits" members from reporting each other to law enforcement, per the LA Times. Three former Scientologists, who claim Masterson raped them in 2001 and 2003, testified that church officials told them it would be a "high crime" to go to police and they'd be expelled, losing their family in the process. Christina Bixler, who's spoken openly about her alleged rape in 2001, said she was told she "did something to deserve what [Masterson] did to me," per the New York Daily News.
"It was a type of public dissection that is unusual for the insular, enigmatic institution," which is now on the defense, per the Times, with top spokesperson Karin Pouw claiming Olmedo was "flat-out wrong." That's despite the fact that Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller had read directly from the Introduction to Scientology Ethics, which reportedly includes the rule against reporting members to police. "Interpretation of Church doctrine by the courts is prohibited and the ruling is evidence of why," Pouw said, claiming the case was "nothing more than a money shakedown" of Masterson by women repeating claims made by prominent Scientology critic Leah Remini. Some of the alleged victims were interviewed for Remini's A&E docuseries about the church. Masterson, who's pleaded not guilty, remains free on $3.3 million bail. His arraignment is set for June 7, per CBS News. (Read more Danny Masterson stories.)