Judge slaps down defense subpoenas in Danny Masterson rape case

ByLisa Bartley KABC logo
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Judge slaps down subpoenas in Danny Masterson rape case
Judge Charlaine Olmedo slapped down subpoenas filed by the defense in the Danny Masterson rape case calling them a "fishing expedition."

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The judge presiding over the Danny Masterson rape case slapped down a series of subpoenas on Monday filed by the defense for everything from outtakes of Leah Remini's show on Scientology to LAPD files on Scientology leader David Miscavige and his wife Shelly Miscavige.

Judge Charlaine Olmedo also quashed a subpoena served on journalist Tony Ortega of The Underground Bunker, citing shield laws that protect journalists from having to turn over unpublished or private communications.

Masterson defense attorney Sharon Appelbaum argued that the materials were needed to ensure Masterson receives a fair trial and to investigate alleged inconsistencies in the stories told by the women about the alleged rapes.

Judge Olmedo called the defense subpoenas "stunningly overbroad," and in the case of the subpoenas served on the LAPD, "an overt attempt to get confidential information" unrelated to the rape case.

"Let's assume there are criminal investigations of Scientology and David Miscavige," Olmedo said hypothetically. "The way this is drafted, the LAPD would have to turn them over."

"I'm sure that Scientology would love to know everything in the police files," Olmedo went on to say. "That doesn't make it relevant."

When asked how any potential LAPD files on David or Shelly Miscavige could be relevant to the rape case, defense attorney Appelbaum referred to a ruling Judge Olmedo made at the end of the May preliminary hearing.

In that ruling in which she said there was sufficient evidence for the case to go to trial, Judge Olmedo concluded that Scientology policy "not only discourages but prohibits one Scientologist from reporting another Scientologist in good standing to outside law enforcement," something the Church strongly denies.

Olmedo found that Scientology's "expressly written doctrine" sufficiently explained why the women waited so long to report Masterson to police and the "inconsistencies" in the witnesses' testimony and that the case can go before a jury.

Judge Olmedo suggested that the defense could call David Miscavige as an expert witness at the trial.

Actress and former Scientologist Leah Remini filed a missing persons report with the LAPD back in 2013, concerned that Shelly Miscavige, the wife of Scientology leader David Miscavige, had not been seen in public for many years. The LAPD said it investigated the claim, but called it "unfounded," without providing any details. Scientology has said that Shelly Miscavige is a dedicated Scientologist who lives a private life, and that she "has never been missing and is living her life to her choosing."

Danny Masterson has pleaded not guilty to raping three women in incidents that allegedly occurred between 2001 and 2003. Masterson maintains that all of the sex was consensual.

Judge Olmedo also quashed subpoenas served on the production companies that produced Leah Remini's "Scientology and the Aftermath," finding that they are also protected by journalistic shield laws.

There was some discussion of another subpoena served on Leah Remini personally. The defense says it required Remini to appear at Monday's hearing, calling her absence a "direct refusal to obey the subpoena." Prosecutor Reinhold Mueller told the judge that Remini's personal attorney had indicated Remini has a medical condition that did not allow her to be in court on Monday.

Judge Olmedo noted that with a pandemic raging, it's not unusual for someone to not attend court hearings due to a medical condition. She agreed to the defense request for a "body attachment" but "held" it, meaning Remini has to either appear in court at the next hearing or file a motion to quash the subpoena.

The defense has also filed a motion to dismiss the case based on a "lack of evidence" presented at the May preliminary hearing. On Monday, Judge Olmedo sent that motion to be heard before another judge. That hearing will be held before Judge Ronald Coen on Nov. 10.