Scientology amps up attack on ‘Bixler’ lawsuit, adds anti-SLAPP to motion to strike
On October 12, we told you that Scientology had done a curious thing, making an attack on a three-year-old legal filing when they knew that a superseding document would make that filing obsolete. And now, they’ve amped up that attack even more by adding anti-SLAPP motions in their assault on the Bixler lawsuit.
We know, that’s a lot to take in. Let’s break it down because we know there are a lot of different lawsuits going on right now (and we do have a small update in another one as well).
The Bixler lawsuit is the one that was filed by Danny Masterson’s victims in 2019 when they were still waiting for him to be charged criminally. It has five plaintiffs: The three Jane Doe victims from the criminal trials, the husband of one of them, and another woman, Bobette Riales, who was in a relationship with Masterson and also claims that he assaulted her.
The lawsuit is not about the assaults, however. They’re suing over what they say has been a campaign of harassment by Masterson and the Church of Scientology since they came forward to the LAPD in 2016. They allege that they’ve been stalked and hacked by agents of Scientology, and even that their pets have been poisoned. (Riales says her house in Indiana was set on fire, too.)
The lawsuit was initially derailed when Judge Steven Kleifield agreed with Scientology that because the three Jane Does had signed contracts with the church while they were members, they were obliged not to sue but had to submit to Scientology’s “religious arbitration” instead. But then an appeals court ruled that because the alleged harm — the stalking, etc. — was occurring after they had left Scientology, the contracts should not apply. The lawsuit was restored, but then it was put on hold while Masterson’s criminal trials were going on.
Now that Masterson was sentenced on September 7 to 30 years to life in prison, the lawsuit got going again. But then Scientology earlier this month filed a motion to strike in regards to the first amended complaint in the case, which was filed back in February 2020. Suddenly, after three years, Scientology objected to the lawsuit describing Scientology’s policy of “Fair Game” (which the church claims no longer exists) and otherwise describing things about Scientology’s internal policies that the church says shouldn’t be the subject of a civil lawsuit.
What made the move even more unusual to us, besides that it was attacking a three-year-old court complaint, was that Scientology itself had complained to Judge Upinder Kalra (who replaced Kleifield) that the plaintiffs are about to file a new amended complaint that would essentially start the lawsuit over again. We’re still waiting to see that amended complaint.
Now, Scientology has bolstered their attack on the 2020 complaint with declarations from the usual Scientology minions (Warren McShane, Lynn Farny, etc.), and they’ve added anti-SLAPP motions in order to seek attorneys’ fees.
It’s an escalation that has some interesting details as the church attacks specific allegations in the Bixler lawsuit about the harassment that the women say they’ve had to endure.
What Scientology is doing is picking out specific allegations and denying that the person harassing the women had any connection to the the church.
Rather than try to describe these attacks on the lawsuit, we figured we’d show you the language in some of the filings made by Scientology’s attorneys in the last couple of days.
Alleged Statements by Third Parties
(a) Alleged Statements by Jenni Weinman
The Bixlers allege that Bixler wrote letters to Masterson and others regarding Masterson’s actions, and later she was “contacted by Masterson’s publicist Jenni Weinman.” Weinman allegedly said she was contacting Bixler because “it’s about to get bad for you and your family” and also “stated to Plaintiff Bixler that what she was claiming happened . . . could not constitute rape because she and Masterson were in a relationship at the time.” Weinman also allegedly forwarded a letter from Masterson to Bixler.
Plaintiffs do not allege that Weinman was an agent of the Church Defendants. Weinman is not — and has never been — an agent of CSI, CC, or RTC. Weinman has never been employed by, under contract with, under the direction or control of, or asked to do anything by CSI, CC, or RTC. There is no basis to impose liability on the Church Defendants for her statements.
(b) Alleged “Threats” by Kathy Gold
The Bixlers allege that around September 2018, “Defendants’ agent Kathy Gold” began making numerous serious threats against plaintiffs.
First, Gold is not and has never been an agent of, been employed by, under contract with, under the direction or control of, or asked to do anything by CSI, CC, or RTC. Any statements she allegedly made cannot create liability for the Church Defendants. While Gold has identified herself as a Scientologist, she never purported to speak on behalf of Scientology or any Scientology entity, including CSI, CC, and RTC. To the contrary, in an initial communication with Bixler on September 2, 2018, Gold claimed that she had been held hostage by Scientologists, and told Bixler “I hope you and the others [sic] women win your case/cases.” Gold has disavowed any agency relationship between her and CSI, CC, and RTC. Gold posted online that she learned of the agency allegations in the complaint. She stated that Plaintiffs are lying about her acting as an agent for Defendants, that she despises Defendants, and that she intends to sue both Plaintiffs and Defendants.
Second, a review of Gold’s actual communications demonstrates that the FAC’s characterization of Gold’s “threats” against Bixler is false. Gold’s Twitter communications reveal that in September 2018, Gold contributed to an online dispute following the publication of certain Plaintiffs’ accusations against Masterson. Gold’s dispute was only with Bixler, and did not involve any communications with other Plaintiffs.
During the dispute, Bixler began threatening Gold over Twitter, suggesting that Gold needed an involuntary psychiatric hold, and asserting “I’m about to sue TF out of this a**hole”. Bixler’s threats grew more intense on September 4, stating “Ever speak of my children again and you’ll be back in that psych ward you f***ing b**ch. You’ll be hearing from our attorneys.” Bixler made a fourth threat on September 4, telling Gold, “Lapd should be paying you a visit soon. Regret coming for a mother and her children? You will. . . . Last thing I’ll say to you… BIG MISTAKE. HUGE.” Only after this onslaught did Gold write a blog post entitled, “If Chrissie Or Any of Her Accomplices Come Near Me Offline,” in which she stated “I will kill them to defend myself.” Far from threatening any Plaintiff with “murder,” Gold made clear that she would act only in self-defense. In sum, a review of the actual communications involving Kathy Gold belies the Bixlers’ allegations. Gold’s own statements demonstrate that Gold did not speak on behalf of the Church Defendants, or any other Scientology entity. The actual communications show that any “threats” Gold made were simply statements that she would act in self-defense as necessary, after Bixler threatened Gold.
(c) Alleged Statements by Heather Seidler and Virginia MacGregor
Similarly, Bixler alleges that in August 2018 “Defendants’ agents Heather Seidler and Virginia MacGregor published posts to their Facebook accounts inciting fellow Scientologists to assist in harassing Plaintiff Bixler. In one post, MacGregor stated that Plaintiff Bixler was ‘reminiscing about all the anal sex [Plaintiff Bixler] obviously miss[es].’” Other than this statement, Plaintiff provides no content of the “published posts” on Facebook. But like Gold, Seidler and MacGregor are not and have never been agents of CSI, CC, or RTC. Seidler and MacGregor have never been employed by, under contract with, under the direction or control of, or asked to do anything by CSI, CC, or RTC. The Church Defendants cannot be liable for Seidler’s or MacGregor’s statements.
You can see that Scientology’s strategy is to gut the lawsuit by asking for substantial portions of it to be thrown out, either because it infringes on Scientology’s religious rights, or because the victims are pointing the finger at people who the church says has no connection to them.
But again, it’s odd to us that Scientology is making these targeted attacks on the 2020 first amended complaint when they said themselves that they became aware that the plaintiffs are about to file a new amended complaint, making the previous one obsolete.
Well, they’ll get their first chance to begin arguing this attack before the judge on November 17.
Meanwhile, another update in Jane Doe 1’s forced-marriage lawsuit: We’ve been telling you that in this lawsuit and in Leah Remini’s lawsuit, efforts to serve David Miscavige have been submitted to court, arguing that their process servers have done enough to declare the Scientology leader a defendant based on “substitute service” (throwing copies of the lawsuits at the feet of employees at Scientology headquarter sites in Hollywood, for example).
Now, Jane Doe 1’s attorneys have added to those reports a request to the court to be allowed to serve Miscavige by publication, by posting notices in local newspapers, for example.
This morning in Los Angeles, meanwhile, there’s a hearing in Jane Doe 1’s case, as Scientology’s argument will be considered that asks to put the lawsuit on hold until May when its motion for arbitration can be heard.
Whew. That’s a lot. We hope to have someone in the courtroom to give us a report on how it goes.
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