Scientology seeks help from the Supreme Court to stop ‘That ’70s Show’ star Danny Masterson from suing the church’s rape accusers.
Masterson’s accusers allege that since the group filed formal complaints with the LAPD, the church has ‘killed (and attempted to kill) her pets,’ set fire to the outside of her home’ and ‘posted false advertisements that’ t claim to be from her anal to ask for sex.’
The church counters that by saying that because the accusers are former members of Scientology, their issues should be settled in house.
In January, a court of appeal in California ruled that Scientology’s confidentiality agreement with its members did not apply in the 2019 harassment lawsuit by Chrissie Carnell Bixler, her husband Cedrick Bixler-Zavala, Marie Bobette Riales and two other anonymous victims, known as Jane Doe #1 and Jane Then #2.
The court said it was a violation of the accusers’ First Amendment rights to expect them to deal with arbitration from a church of which they are no longer members.
Masterson was arrested in June 2020 and is accused of three rapes that occurred between 2001 and 2003 at his home in the Hollywood Hills. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
If convicted on the charges, Masterson could face up to 45 years in prison.
Prosecutor Marie Bobette Riales pictured on her Twitter page. In 2017, she tweeted: ‘I stayed quiet long enough. Danny Masterson raped me several times. All I seek is justice’
Chrissie Carnell Bixler, another of Masterson’s accusers, pictured on her Instagram page in June 2022. She is married to the lead singer of The Mars Volta, Cedric Bixler-Zavala
According to the California Court of Appeals, the plaintiffs had left the church and their agreements with the organization.
The congregation says that because they were members of the church, their problems with the organization should be resolved through an internal process.
Now the church is taking its case to the conservative-majority SCOTUS asking it to overturn the January decision, with the organization saying its right to free speech is being violated.
In a petition, the church states: ‘The opinion arms the First Amendment against religious freedom, holding that the First Amendment requires restrictions that apply only to religious – and not secular – arbitration agreements.’
The criminal trial involving Masterson and the alleged victims is scheduled to begin in October.
The church is trying to convince SCOTUS that: ‘The idea that the First Amendment empowers the state to regulate the covenant between a church and its congregation could not be more wrong or more dangerous.’
The statement continues: ‘Religious organizations need this Court to remove any doubt that their contracts – including their agreements to arbitrate disputes before a religious forum – cannot be voided by a party’s alleged change of mind.’
In June, Masterson’s attempts to throw out one of the cases against him were rejected by a judge in Los Angeles. The actor claimed that the delay in prosecuting the case had prejudiced him.
Chrissie Carnell Bixler, who dated Masterson for six years starting in 1996, is one of four women who filed a lawsuit this month accusing the That ’70s Show actor of drug and sexual abuse.
Bixler claims that Masterson regularly forced her to have sex with him and that he ‘became violent’ when she refused. The couple was pictured in December 2001
Masterson will appear before Judge Charllaine F. Olmedo in Los Angeles Superior Court to answer rape allegations on May 31, 2022
Masterson grew up a member of Scientology. He told Spin Magazine in 2005: ‘I’d be a flaming crackhead if I didn’t study Scientology.’ When asked in the same interview about accusations that the church is a sect, he said: ‘A sect is a secret society. There is nothing secret about Scientology.’
Jane Doe #1 testified at a preliminary hearing last year that Masterson threw her in his jacuzzi, raped her, and then pulled a gun on her, telling her, ‘Don’t say the king’s word. You’re not going to tell anyone.’
However, Masterson’s lawyer had claimed that the two had consensual sex. They pointed out that testimony that Masterson threatened her with a gun did not appear in an initial police report in 2004.
The woman also claimed that she had to overcome the church’s objections to report her rape to the LAPD in 2004. Additionally, all three women testified last year that the church has a policy that prohibits them from reporting other Scientologists to the police , which prevented them from reporting Masterson sooner.
The church, said the judge at the time, ‘not only discourages, but prevents reporting of fellow Scientologists to law enforcement.’
Riales sent this infamous tweet in December 2017
When they filed in 2019, the church claimed they signed agreements to settle all claims before a panel of Scientologists when they were members, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In a second motion, filed by Masterson, attorneys argued that the charges against the two other women were very different and merited separate trials.
It also argued that one of the women’s cases did not meet the definition of ‘forced rape’, however, Olmedo has already ruled that her case does meet it.
Jane Doe #3 described how she woke up naked to find Masterson raping her and when she tried to fight him off, he hit and spat on her, calling her ‘white trash’.
Masterson’s lawyers argued that she had recreated the incident in recent years after another alleged rape she reported failed to lead to charges.
Jane Doe #2 told an LA court last year how he ‘wrecked me like a rag doll and hit her from behind like a jackhammer.’
Defense lawyers said they knew she went to his house for sexual purposes, that she voluntarily stayed most of the night, and that she was looking for a dating relationship with him that she did not get.
All three said before each alleged rape, Masterson – who has pleaded not guilty to all charges – gave them a drink, after which they felt ‘blurred’ and disoriented.
In an earlier filing to dismiss the charges, one of Masterson’s attorneys, Sharon Appelbaum, challenged and disputed the three women’s stories, claiming there were “inconsistencies” between what they told police and what they said in the witness box.
‘The prosecution has not established that a crime was committed in any of these cases,’ she claimed. ‘We believe that Mr. Masterson has been unfairly accused in this case for actions he did not commit… Rape has not been proven in any of these cases.
‘Mr. Masterson believes he had consensual sex with Jane Does #1 and #2 … and the alleged rape of the third woman ‘didn’t happen at all.’
Appelbaum talks about a ‘sisterhood’ between the three women ‘who seem to want Mr. Masterson down. The communication with each other. They often talk, even though the police didn’t ask.’
She accused the three – who Masterson is suing in a separate civil case – of ‘cooperating’ with each other and ‘changing their stories’, which she said have become ‘more and more similar’ in recent years.
‘All three of these ladies have monetary motives. They filed a lawsuit against Mr. Masterson,’ she said at the preliminary hearing last year.
In response to Appelbaum’s allegations of conspiracy, Mueller had told the court: ‘From the testimony I heard it was anything but conspiracy. These were not rehearsed statements. They were wholehearted.’
And to the claim that there were inconsistencies in the alleged rape accounts of the three women, Mueller added: ‘If there is one thing that is consistent with them, it is that the suspect [Masterson] was consistent in what he did with these girls.’
Church of Scientology asks Supreme Court to stop Danny Masterson’s accusers from suing the church Source link Church of Scientology asks Supreme Court to stop Danny Masterson’s accusers from suing the church