Aug. 9, 2013 at 10:17 AM ET
Leah Remini is not backing down from her fight with the Church of Scientology. The actress, a longtime Scientologist, parted ways with the religious organization in July. Since then, she's had many choice words about the controversial religion, particularly its leader David Miscavige. And now she's taken legal action to expose him.
Remini, 43, has filed a missing persons report on Miscavige's wife Shelly. Shelly and Remini were friends before Shelly vanished from the public eye about six years ago. Reportedly, Remini's rift with the church began at Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' 2006 wedding, when she dared to question why Shelly wasn't in attendance. Author Tony Ortega, who is writing a book about Scientology, has reported that Shelly was "banished" to a secret compound, where she is completely cut off from the outside world—including her own family.
Though the grounds for investigation seem solid, a Los Angeles police source has already told the media that Remini's claim is "unfounded."
"Mrs. Miscavige is not missing. Investigators have made some type of contact with her," an unnamed LAPD source told New York's Daily News. "The investigation is completed and classified as unfounded."
Even if the investigation is finished, Remini has raised some big questions about Scientology's leadership and practices. And that may have been her intention in the first place. The actress told Us Weekly that she is working on a tell-all memoir about her experiences in the church—including "everything that's taboo to talk about."
By challenging the Church of Scientology, Remini is taking a big personal risk. Because practicing Scientology involves submitting to "audits," which are essentially therapy sessions, the church has hundreds of hours of recorded information about all of its adherents—much of it deeply personal. Theoretically, this information is confidential, but there's a long history of shady practices from church leaders. It doesn't seem like a stretch that Scientology leaders would try to ruin the reputation of a celebrity who's trying to ruin their reputation. There are reports that they've done much worse things to dissenters.
So Remini is being pretty brave, all told. She's risking a backlash from a very powerful organization, from her friends who are still involved (including a pissed-off Kirstie Alley), and even from the Scientologists in her own family (who have so far been supportive). Remini is standing firm that it's the right thing to do.
"I believe that people should be able to question things," she said in a statement last month. "I believe that people should value family, and value friendships, and hold those things sacrosanct. That for me, that's what I'm about. It wouldn't matter what it was, simply because no one is going to tell me how I need to think, no one is going to tell me who I can, and cannot, talk to."
Donna Kaufman is a freelance writer and iVillage contributor—find her on Twitter.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.