A Taiwanese man died after being stabbed in the neck at the Church of Scientology headquarters in Sydney on Jan. 3 — and the controversial organization is blaming Leah Remini.
The actress hosts A&E’s Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath with fellow defector Mike Rinder and the organization said, in a Jan. 11 letter sent to network head Paul Buccieri (subject: “Blood on your hands”) and obtained by the anti-Scientology site Underground Bunker, “For years, A&E executives ignored our warnings that the series was inspiring bigotry and violence. You knew what you were doing. Your intent was to stir up hate and turn it into cash. Now someone has been murdered. Your indifference and obsession with stirring hate underwrote his murder.” The letter, sent on Church of Scientology letterhead from international spokesperson Karin Pouw, said Remini “coaches people on the show to incite hatred against Scientology.” The show won an Emmy in 2017 for Outstanding Informational Series or Special.
So why does the organization claim Remini’s A&E show is to blame? “The attacker was inspired by an anti-Scientology website that featured your people and included a link to Remini’s show,” the letter stated. However, the Church of Scientology didn’t provide any proof of the claim. Yahoo contacted the organization for comment but hasn’t received one.
The Church of Scientology did, however, send another letter to Australian news outlet Seven, which was the first major news site to publish the letter, via a story on Yahoo Australia, sent to A&E. The letter, also sent by Pouw, declined to answer the outlet’s questions, but said the “most recent tragedy … follows a distinct trend of hate and violence incited by Leah Remini and her television program.” It listed three other incidents they said were caused by Remini.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a 24-year-old Scientology security worker, Chih-Hen Yeh, died and an unidentified 16-year-old church member is in jail as a result of the stabbing. The paper reports that Yeh was bringing a female church member to a “purification ceremony” when the woman’s son stabbed him in the neck with a large kitchen knife. Yeh died later in a hospital emergency room. The teen assailant has been charged with murder and was refused bail. He will appear in children’s court next month.
The Seven News report explained that a “purification ceremony” is a drug detoxification procedure, which is reportedly done in advance of a member joining the organization’s Sea Org, a group comprised of Scientology’s most devoted members.
A rep for A&E told Yahoo they aren’t commenting on the letter nor is a rep for Remini, who has been publicly attacked by the Church of Scientology since she very publicly defected in 2013. She went on to write books about the organization and Aftermath debuted in 2016. However, Remini’s co-host Rinder told Seven News via Yahoo Australia, “They basically seek to shift the blame to our show for their abuses.”
Rinder, who is Australian, continued, “Their statement that this is all caused by A&E and our show, because someone apparently looked at a website, that mentioned our show, that’s absurd.”
And while Scientology is known for its over-the-top statements bashing former members, “It’s a little more over the top than one would expect, even from them,” Rinder added.
The producers of the show have no plans to cancel it — and Remini has no plans to back down. The Feb. 18 episode will feature female church members accusing prominent Scientologist Danny Masterson of sexual assault.
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