RealTime

Leah Remini’s Defense of the Disgraced Paul Haggis

From rape accusations to his invented narrative of leaving the Church

Paul Haggis and Leah Remini, 2015
Paul Haggis and Leah Remini, 2015

When disgraced director Paul Haggis was arrested in Italy on June 19, 2022, for what police are calling the “violent” sexual assault of a young woman, Leah Remini was notably silent.

After all, when Haggis was accused of rape and sexual assault by four women in January 2018, Leah Remini publicly came to her fellow anti-Scientologist’s defense and victim-shamed his accusers.

It wasn’t the first time she defended Haggis—even when she knew he was lying.

In September 2017, Remini and her Aftermath co-host, Mike Rinder, featured Haggis on their show. Haggis reiterated a whopper of a lie he told in 2009 to the media that he left the Church in a dispute over LGBTQ rights. Yet three months before that Aftermath episode, Paul Haggis had already eviscerated his own credibility by confirming he lied, and that his anti-Scientology exit tale is built on a fraud.

[Rathbun] broke his silence on the matter in 2017 to reveal that he and Haggis had orchestrated Haggis’ departure story and there is no truth whatsoever to the Haggis account.

Haggis for years falsely claimed he split with the Church because it would not take a position on California’s incendiary Proposition 8 campaign in 2008 regarding same-sex marriage—knowing the Church would never take a stand on such a political issue.

Haggis claimed that he was unhappy with the fact the Church would not take a stand, because two of his daughters are gay, and thus he independently reviewed negative articles on the Internet about the Church and decided to leave. Fully developing his invented narrative, Haggis wrote a letter of resignation to the Church in 2009 that was then leaked to press, generating a media storm.

Haggis’ false story served as the opening anecdote and linchpin for a 2011 article in The New Yorker by anti-Scientology author Lawrence Wright, and Wright’s subsequent book.

The bottom then fell out of the Haggis lie when Mark “Marty” Rathbun, anti-Scientologist and former guru to both Paul Haggis and Leah Remini, broke his silence on the matter in 2017 to reveal that he and Haggis had orchestrated Haggis’ departure story and there is no truth whatsoever to the Haggis account.

Rathbun revealed that Haggis wrote his ultimate spec script choreographing his exit from the Church to make him seem like a noble do-gooder rather than the cynical opportunist he is. The Scene: “Pete” (Haggis) and “Lightnin’” (Rathbun) in conversation with co-conspirators. The Dialogue: “The best way to get this story out is for you to call your contacts….” And so it went—with Haggis stage managing his “surprise” exit from the religion. With Paul Haggis, everything is calculated.

Far from being a principled decision by Haggis over gay rights, it was actually Rathbun who approached Haggis starting in June 2009 and coached him on how to make his exit and obtain maximal publicity. In fact, as Rathbun reveals, Haggis asked Rathbun and others to lie for him to Lawrence Wright, who was working on his The New Yorker article at the time. The intention was that Wright would use Haggis’ false narrative to protect and further his crafted image as a crusader, especially with Haggis’ daughters.

Haggis was deathly afraid Rathbun might reveal the truth to Wright and expose the crusading image as a farce, as Rathbun notes in recalling their conversation:

“He [Haggis] said ‘Look, for the sake of my image with my daughters, can you please avoid telling Larry Wright that you were the person…that you prompted me…?’”

Once Haggis admitted that he lied about his story, he had no credibility. Not that any of that would matter to Leah Remini, who featured Paul Haggis and his discredited, false narrative on Aftermath.

Rathbun recounts in detail how Haggis manipulated and lied to the press concerning his letter of resignation, which was leaked in October 2009. As Rathbun tells it:

“So he [Haggis] says, ‘By October, Marty Rathbun got a hold of the letter.’ Well, I actually have an email of 23 August, two months earlier, where I’m already talking with Paul Haggis….Not only do I have the letter, but I’m getting detailed meticulous instructions about how to present it deceptively to media contacts that I’ve established….Paul Haggis consulted with me every step of the way, on how he should position this and how he should do this.”

Tellingly, in response, on June 16, 2017, Haggis confirmed Rathbun’s account in a message to a blogger, admitting he asked Rathbun to preserve the lie for Wright’s article by withholding this critical information from him. As Haggis stated:

“Marty is likely telling a truth. At the time of Larry’s article and book I withheld the fact that Marty had reached out to me by email.…I withheld that information from Larry Wright.” Not that Larry Wright would have cared: Paul Haggis served his purpose for Wright, who did no fact checking.

Bottom line: Once Haggis admitted that he lied about his story, he had no credibility. Not that any of that would matter to Leah Remini, who featured Paul Haggis and his discredited, false narrative on Aftermath three months later.

But then again, Remini also proudly boasted that she refused to vet the credibility of her subjects, and that A&E’s attorneys let her get away with it.

 ✕