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Elisabeth Moss declines Valerie Haney’s nomination as arbitrator, says Scientology
Valerie Haney has finally heard back from Scientology’s “International Justice Chief,” a Sea Org official named Mike Ellis, who has informed her that Elisabeth Moss has turned down the opportunity to serve as an arbitrator in Valerie’s “religious arbitration.”
Valerie, a former Sea Org worker who escaped from Scientology’s secretive “Int Base” in 2016 by hiding in the trunk of a car, filed suit against the church in June 2019, alleging that she had been held against her will as an employee at the base, and also that she had endured years of intimidation, harassment, and libel once she decided to speak out about her experiences.
After her escape, Valerie went to work for actress and former Scientologist Leah Remini as her assistant, and Valerie was featured as the surprise subject to kick off the third and final season of Remini’s A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath.
Scientology successfully derailed Valerie’s lawsuit when it convinced Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Burdge in 2020 that while she was an employee and when she exited her job, Valerie had signed contracts which obliged her not to sue Scientology in a civil court, but instead to take any grievance to Scientology’s own internal brand of arbitration.
Valerie spent a couple of years trying to overturn Burdge’s order, but a new judge in the case, Judge Gail Killefer, found that Valerie needed to begin the arbitration process or risk having her lawsuit tossed altogether.
So on July 1, Valerie submitted a letter to Scientology formally asking the arbitration process to begin. The first step in that process is to select a panel of three arbitrators, who must all be Scientologists in good standing. Valerie is allowed to propose an arbitrator, Scientology selects the second, and then those two arbitrators choose a third. All of this is overseen not by the court but by Scientology’s “IJC,” Ellis.
So in that July 1 letter, Valerie, who has made it clear she objects to the entire process, selected as her proposed arbitrator Scientologist actress Elisabeth Moss.
It was a cheeky move, and we figured that Ellis would quickly tell her that Moss was unavailable. But for some reason it has taken him more than a month to get around to it. And he seems to claim, in the letter he sent Valerie this week, that Moss was actually asked to serve but turned Valerie’s request down. Here’s the language in the letter:
RE: ARBITRATOR DESIGNATION
Dear Ms. Haney,
I am writing to inform you that the arbitrator you designated to hear and resolve your claims in Scientology religious arbitration declined the nomination to serve as an arbitrator.
Please designate a new arbitrator to hear and resolve the matter within 15 days of the date of this letter.
International Justice Chief
So Moss declined the nomination, Scientology claims. There’s no indication why Moss has turned down the opportunity to sit in judgment of Valerie’s claims that she has suffered harassment, including libelous claims about her sex life, from what she characterizes as a totalitarian organization. Is Moss simply too busy as another season starring as the lead character in the dystopic world of Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale is premiering on September 14? Maybe so.
Moss has left little doubt that she is a Scientologist in good standing, and she’s been one of a very few of the church’s celebrities willing to speak out on behalf of the organization in interviews. In April, she told the New Yorker that Scientology was “misunderstood.” The article also quoted former Scientologist Geoff Levin, who had known Moss since she was born. He told us that he was disappointed that the magazine didn’t include some of the things he had told them about the actress.
As this process of selecting arbitrators develops, we will remind you that Scientology has only ever held a court-ordered arbitration one time in its history, when the 2013 lawsuit filed by Luis and Rocio Garcia of Irvine, California was similarly derailed by a Tampa federal judge, James Whittemore.
In that case, the disagreements between the Garcias and the IJC over selecting arbitrators was so contentious, and dragged on for so long — more than a year — that Judge Whittemore ultimately stepped in and took over the process himself, selecting all three arbitrators from a list of names submitted by Scientology.
The Garcias then went through with the arbitration proceeding in 2017, and Luis characterized it as a bad joke: The IJC did not allow them to have representation, they couldn’t record the session or get a transcript of it, they weren’t allowed to have smartphones with them, and the IJC disallowed 90 percent of the evidence they had brought. That lawsuit was about fraud, and the arbitrating panel awarded the Garcias about $18,000 of the hundreds of thousands of dollars they said had been taken from them through the church’s lies. Judge Whittemore accepted the ruling of the panel, but the Garcias refused to accept the award, and appealed Whittemore’s ruling forcing them into the arbitration. After three years, the Eleventh Circuit upheld Whittemore’s ruling.
So now Valerie is beginning down that same path, and so far Elisabeth Moss has turned her down.
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