Danny Masterson’s estranged wife quit Scientology to help their daughter: report

Danny Masterson’s estranged wife quit Scientology to help their daughter: report

Bijou Phillips, the estranged wife of convicted rapist Danny Masterson, has reportedly made the monumental decision to leave the Church of Scientology because she believes it’s important to help their 9-year-old daughter maintain a relationship with her father while he is in prison.

According to a report by the Daily Mail, Phillips “quietly” left Scientology because the church would have expected her and her daughter to cut ties with the disgraced TV star after the church expelled him and declared him a “suppressive person” — or SP.  The expulsion of Masterson, once one of Scientology’s high-profile celebrity members, came in October after he was convicted of two counts of rape and sentenced to 30 years to life in prison, the Daily Mail said. Up until Masterson’s sentencing, the church supported him and maintained his innocence through two trials.

Under Scientology’s policy of disconnection, members are encouraged to separate themselves from friends or family members who criticize Scientology, who try to impede members’ spiritual progress or who are deemed to have an anti-social personality, according to author Lawrence Wright and the church itself.

“Bijou left a few weeks after she found out that Danny had been declared an SP for not living up to the standards of the church,” an insider with close ties to former Scientology members told the Daily Mail on Wednesday.

Danny Masterson and Bijou Phillips attend a function at Samsung Galaxy in Los Angeles in 2015. Michael Buckner/Getty Images archives

Even though Phillips filed for divorce from the “That 70s Show” star after his sentencing, she “wasn’t about to cut ties with (him), per Scientology’s disconnection rules,” the insider said. “Bijou would never do that to her daughter.”

Before Masterson was sentenced, Phillips wrote a letter to the court in which she acknowledged that he had been convicted of serious crimes. But the actress, model and singer star said, “The man I married (in 2011) has only been an extraordinary husband to me and a devoted father to our daughter.”

Phillips said that Masterson would read their daughter books, take her on walks and to ballet lessons. “The two were inseparable,” she said. Phillips also said he remained devoted to their daughter after he was taken into custody. She said he called their daughter every day. Masterson has since been transferred to North Kern State Prison in a rural area northwest of Bakersfield.

Certainly, it’s been difficult — and probably painful — for Masterson and Phillips’ daughter to lose her daily interactions with her father and to learn to only expect letters, or limited phone calls and visits with him in crowded prison reception rooms. It probably also will be painful for her to come to terms with the crimes for which he was convicted, even though he maintained his innocence through his two trials.

There’s a saying in criminal justice circles that children of incarcerated parents “do the time” when they are separated from fathers and mothers who are locked away in jails or prisons. They are the “hidden victims,” according to a 2019 article in the National Institute of Justice Journal.

Studies have shown that an important way to mitigate the traumatic impacts of separation is to help the children stay in contact with their parents, including “with visits conducted in supportive, safe, and child-friendly environments,” according to the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated at Rutgers University.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reported that Phillips “remains loyal” to Masterson, which is why she decided to leave Scientology. She publicly stood by him through his arrest on multiple rape charges. She also attended every day of his two trials and reportedly let out an anguished sob when a jury in the second trial found him guilty on two counts of rape.

Reports say that the divorce filing may have been less a statement about Phillips’ feelings for her husband and more about the couple’s need to protect their assets, in the event of lawsuits stemming from his alleged rapes. Holly Davis, an Austin, Texas-based family law attorney, told this news organization that protection of assets is a common reason for couples to divorce when one spouse is imprisoned.

The Daily Mail source said that Phillips’ decision to leave Scientology couldn’t have been easy; it’s never easy for anyone. If Phillips leaves the church, she, too, could be labeled an “SP.”

“It’s never an easy decision to leave Scientology because you face being ripped apart from your family and friends who are still members,” the source said.

Fortunately for Phillips, she probably “had nothing to lose” because most of her loved ones are not Scientologists. Masterson grew up in a family of practicing Scientologists, while Phillips is a member of a well-known Hollywood family that includes her father, the late singer John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, and her half-sisters, singer Chynna Phillips and actor Mackenzie Phillips. According to the Daily Mail, Phillips left the organization with the help of Chynna Phillips.

“Chynna has been a rock for Bijou, and even though she’s passionate about her own religion, she would never force anything onto Bijou,” the source explained, referring to the devotion that Chynna and her husband Billy Baldwin have for Christianity.