Scientologist actor Danny Masterson has been accused of rape by four women — and the Church of Scientology claims it knew nothing of the allegations against its longtime member.
However, people deeply connected with the church say members did have knowledge of Masterson's alleged behavior way before the media reports.
Several sources told Fox News that the Church of Scientology systematically covers up misdeeds of its most prominent members — and Masterson, they say, is no exception.
Chris Shelton, a former member of the Church of Scientology and Sea Org from 1987-2012, said the church silences members who want to take complaints to law enforcement.
“The church works to protect the church first,” he told Fox News.
He said the next most important thing to Scientologists is to protect the members of the church and its public image.
“[The Church of Scientology] considers anyone outside the church to be a ‘wog,’ which is a defamatory word describing non-members... It creates an ‘us versus them’ mentality [and tells] members that ‘wogs’ at law enforcement won’t protect them.”
Tony Ortega, editor of “The Underground Bunker,” told Fox News Scientologists are “not allowed to file a lawsuit against another Scientologist or report another Scientologist to the authorities.”
Ortega said this has directly impacted the women accusing Masterson of rape.
“For example, one of Masterson’s accusers … went to the church in 2003 to report the incident,” Ortega claimed.
Citing inside knowledge of the church, he alleged Scientology leaders asked the accuser to undergo “intensive counseling from May to December 2003, going back into her past lives to find out what evil thing she did then to cause this now.
"That is how Scientology handled sexual assault,” he added.
Ortega, a journalist who has dedicated his time to investigating the Church of Scientology, claimed members of the church are threatened with being ostracized from the tight-knit community if they go to authorities with sexual assault allegations.
Shelton said he saw similar practices during his time as a member of the church.
Shelton said Scientologists use an “internal justice system” that utilizes fear mongering to stop alleged sexual assault victims from going to the police. Shelton also said the interview sessions with alleged victims within the church are routinely filmed.
Ortega said one of Masterson’s accusers was “brutally interrogated” by a senior member of the organization.
“At the same time, Danny was being interrogated [by a senior member],” Ortega claimed. “… It would have been videotaped. They are manic about keeping records. To my knowledge, none of this was given to the LAPD.”
Ortega said when the alleged victim took her case to the LAPD to claim the “That ‘70s Show” star attacked her, the church stepped in once again.
“A little more than a year after the assault, the church bombarded the LAPD with affidavit after affidavit from church members defending Masterson. The church rallied around him.”
Shelton predicts the church will stand by Masterson, even as his public image begins to crumble. The actor denies any wrongdoing.
“They will keep lying, lying and lying,” Shelton said of the church. “They’ll cover up and double down.”
Masterson was fired by Netflix earlier this week, ending his run on the streaming service’s series “The Ranch.”
He has denied the claims against him, saying in part, "Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one."
In a statement to the media, the Church of Scientology denied it was involved in stifling the claims of Masterson’s accusers.
“The church adamantly denies that it ever ignores any allegations of criminal behavior, especially at the expense of alleged victims. What is being stated is utterly untrue. This has nothing to do with religion. This story is being manipulated to push a bigoted agenda. The church follows all laws and cooperates with law enforcement. Any statement or implication to the contrary is false.”