Tuesday’s information that Bijou Phillips filed for divorce from Danny Masterson got here as a shock to many, regardless that his jail sentence — 30 years to life — signifies that he’s been geographically faraway from the day-to-day lifetime of the previous actor and their 9-year-old daughter.
Nonetheless, Phillips publicly stood by her husband via his arrest on a number of rape expenses. She additionally attended day by day of his two trials and reportedly let loose an anguished sob when a jury within the second trial discovered him responsible on two of three counts of rape. However one report says that the divorce submitting could also be much less a press release about Phillips’ emotions about her husband and extra concerning the couple’s want to guard their belongings. One other report stated that the Church of Scientology may have performed a task in her determination.
Phillips and Masterson are distinguished, longtime members of the group, whose controversial practices turned a problem in each each trials in Los Angeles. The three girls who accused Masterson of drugging and raping them within the early 2000s had been Scientologists, and prosecutors alleged that the actor used his prominence in Scientology to obtain the church’s assist in holding these girls from reporting his crimes to police for years, the Related Press stated.
“The church taught his victims, ‘Rape isn’t rape, you triggered this, and above all, you’re by no means allowed to go to legislation enforcement,’” Deputy District Legal professional Ariel Anson stated throughout closing arguments. “In Scientology, the defendant is a star and he’s untouchable.”
Masterson maintained his innocence in each trials and stated his encounters with the ladies had been consensual. Scientology additionally complained concerning the inclusion of its insurance policies within the trials and issued a press release denying that it had a coverage discouraging members from going to legislation enforcement, the Related Press stated.
Now, it’s attainable that the church had energy over Phillips’ transfer to divorce Masterson, in response to journalist Yashar Ali in his e-mail publication Tuesday.
“It stays to be seen what this transfer means for Phillips’ and Masterson’s relationship to the group,” Ali stated. However, if Phillips intends to stay a Scientologist in good standing, “she would have wanted to obtain permission from a Scientology ethics officer to file for divorce,” Ali additionally stated. This officer, in flip, would have been guided immediately by Scientology’s chief David Miscavige on the way to deal with the matter, Ali added.
In the meantime, journalist Tony Ortega spoke to New York lawyer Scott Pilutik, who agreed with many individuals’s assumptions that Phillips may very well be divorcing Masterson to guard the couple’s belongings, together with their Santa Barbara County farm, as Masterson’s authorized troubles shift to civil courts.
In 2019, earlier than Masterson was criminally charged, three girls filed a lawsuit towards the “That 70s Present” star, in addition to towards Miscavige and the Church of Scientology. This lawsuit didn’t allege sexual assault, however stated the ladies confronted “a barrage of harassment and abuse” after they filed sexual assault studies with the Los Angeles Police Division, The New Republic and Los Angeles Instances reported. The harassment included surveillance, wiretaps, property harm, threatening telephone calls and poisoning their pets.
This lawsuit was placed on maintain throughout each prison trials. The primary trial ended with out a verdict when the jury deadlocked. The lawsuit ought to resume now that the second trial has ended with a conviction, and Masterson has been sentenced, Ortega stated. Masterson additionally may face extra lawsuits that allege rape.
Pilutik stated that Masterson and Phillips have motive to file for divorce earlier than these civil lawsuits proceed, in response to Ortega’s publication.
“Masterson is going through down civil litigation from among the identical girls who served as witnesses in his prison trial, and on condition that the burden of proof is decrease in civil court docket, Masterson may simply be topic to sizeable judgments,” Pilutik stated. “So it’s in Masterson’s curiosity to have fewer belongings in his title when that day comes. In California, not like equitable distribution states like New York, group property owned by each spouses will be tapped to fulfill money owed, whether or not the faultless partner even had information of the debt.”
“In any occasion, it’s in Phillips’ apparent curiosity, and presumably even Masterson’s curiosity, to get giant belongings (equivalent to, say, a farm) into Phillips’ title, and shortly, and a divorce will accomplish that by means of a partition or settlement settlement,” Pilutik informed Ortega. “If Masterson and Phillips are on the identical web page, the extra belongings are divided in a method that favors Phillips, the much less will probably be obtainable for plaintiffs.”
When submitting for divorce, Phillips cited “irreconcilable variations” as the rationale for the break up, Folks reported. In a press release, her lawyer Peter Lauzon stated Phillips had determined to file for divorce “throughout this unlucky time” and that “her precedence stays together with her daughter.” He defined that “this era has been unimaginably laborious on the wedding and the household.”
Phillips additionally acknowledged that Masterson has been “a beautiful father to their daughter,” Lauzon stated.
In her divorce submitting, Phillips requested that she be granted full authorized and bodily custody of their daughter, whereas Masterson is giving visitation rights. She additionally requested for spousal help and authorized charges from Masterson and requested that their belongings be divided up by the court docket as separate property, with no indication within the papers that the exes had a prenup in place.