The accusers of Danny Masterson are not required to go to Scientology arbitration.
A California appeals court ruled Wednesday that four women who accused actor Danny Masterson of rape can proceed with their harassment claim against the Church of Scientology (Jan. 19, 2022).
The suit was filed by women who claimed that after reporting to police that they had been raped by Masterson, a Scientologist who has been prosecuted criminally, they were tracked and harassed by church operatives. One of the women’s husbands is also a complainant.
Masterson, who starred in the 1970s sitcom That’s Show, is accused of rapping three women between 2001 and 2003. He has rejected the allegations, and a criminal trial is currently underway.
The plaintiffs are suing the church, stating that after reporting the incident to the police, they were subjected to a harassment campaign by the church’s agents.
Agents of the Church of Scientology allegedly watched them, hacked their security systems, videotaped them, chased them, killed or attempted to kill their pets, started fires outside their homes, and put ads pretending to be from them asking anal sex from strangers, according to the plaintiffs. The church has denied that it has been harassed.
Unless victims of suspected sexual assault agree to completely identify themselves, The New York Times does not identify them.
The church contended that the case should be kept out of the courts because the plaintiffs signed agreements waiving their right to sue the church and agreeing to have any claims against it arbitrated before a panel of Scientologists in a procedure known as religious arbitration.
The panel of justices determined in a 39-page verdict released Wednesday that the case could proceed in court because the harassment occurred after the plaintiffs had left the church.
The judges said, «Scientology takes the view that petitioners agreed to the organization’s dispute resolution methods as a condition of entering the church.» «It claims that even if petitioners have left the church, the conditions of their contracts still apply to them.» This argument is rejected by us.»
«In effect, Scientology argues that one of the costs of joining its religion (or obtaining a single religious service) is eternal subjection to a religious forum – a silent waiver of the practitioner’s freedom to leave the faith,» the decision concludes. A price that high is prohibited by the Constitution.»