Actress Leah Remini had a very public break with the Church of Scientology last month, but even though The King of Queens star may have left her long-time religion behind, it seems she isn't finished with the Church's leaders. Tony Ortega, the former editor of The Village Voice and long-time reporter and critic of Scientology, reports that Remini has filed a missing persons report for Shelly Miscavige, the wife of Scientology's highest-ranking official, David Miscavige. A former friend of Remini's, Shelly has reportedly not been seen in public for more than six years.
One of the stories that was passed around as a partial explanation for Remini's departure from the Church, was about a time she inquired about Shelly Miscavige's whereabouts at Tom Cruise's wedding in 2006 and was met with a nasty rebuke. (She was allegedly told, "You don't have the f--king rank to ask about Shelly.") Now that Remini is free and clear of the Church, it seems she's not letting the matter go away. Last weekend, she also told US Weekly that she's planning to a write a tell-all book about her life in the Church, including "everything that's taboo to talk about,"
The Church has previously stated that Shelly Miscavige is not missing, and that's almost certainly true. Ortega claims she's living at a private Scientology compound outside Los Angeles, and has been cut off from the outside world. However, Remini's decision to get the Los Angeles Police Department involved creates an interesting situation. Should they decide to investigate strongly, the Church may be forced to produce Shelly Miscavige, or if they don't, the police might just decide to go up there and look for themselves.
There have been numerous tales throughout the years of Scientologists being kept away from friends and loved ones, particularly when it's believed they might defect from or embarass the Church. (Lawrence Wright's recent book about the Church, Going Clear, covers much of this history.) They are also known for their intimidation tactics used against Church against ex-members who speak out, something Remini has reportedly taken a lot of precautions for. (It's exactly those heavy-handed measures that seem to have driven her away. The Church has repeatedly denied all those claims of abuse.)
But few Scientologists have had a champion looking out for them like the one Miscavige has. Someone with Remini's public profile and popularity can cause a lot of headaches for the Church's leaders and she doesn't appear to be intimidated by what they might throw at her. She seems determined to get answers — and that might mean that the rest of us get some as well.
UPDATE (8/09): The LAPD confirms that Remini did file the missing persons report, but it was quickly ruled as "unfounded" and the case has already been closed. LAPD detectives reportedly met with Shelly Miscavige in person, and say she is not being held against her will. The Church of Scientology says Remini's actions are "harrassment" and "a publicity stunt cooked up by a small band of unemployed fanatics who live on the fringe of the Internet."