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US SUPREME COURT DENIES SCIENTOLOGY 'ARBITRATION' PETITION IN MASTERSON LAWSUIT
The US Supreme Court has denied a petition by the Church of Scientology, which had asked the court to intervene in a California appeals court decision that restored a lawsuit filed against Scientology by Danny Masterson's rape accusers.
The lawsuit was filed in August 2019 by four women (and one of their husbands) who allege that since the women came forward with rape allegations against Masterson to the LAPD, Scientology has surveilled and harassed them.
Four of the five plaintiffs are former Scientologists, and Scientology convinced the trial court that because the plaintiffs had signed service contracts as members, they were obliged not to sue the church and to take any grievances to "religious arbitration."
But a California appeals court in January overturned that ruling, reasoning that the harm alleged by these plaintiffs — the stalking, hacking of their phones, and even the killing of their pets — had occurred after they had left Scientology. So this was not an "ecclesiastical" matter that called for internal arbitration, the court ruled.
California's supreme court signed off on that decision, so Scientology then turned to the US Supreme Court, filing a petition in July asking the court to grant a writ of certiorari and take up the case.
Previously, we described that in its petition Scientology didn't mention that the appeals court was mainly concerned about the allegations of harm occurring after the plaintiffs had left the church, and instead claimed that its contracts not applying to ex-members was a violation of Scientology's religious rights.
But the chances of the court getting involved were small because of the number of petitions that are filed. Last week, the court held a conference to sift through the petitions that had come in over the summer, and this morning put out a list of those that it was not going to consider. Scientology's petition was among those listed.
With the Supreme Court petition out of the way, the civil lawsuit will still be on hold as Danny Masterson's criminal trial is about to start in Los Angeles on October 11. He's facing 45 years to life in prison if he's convicted of raping three of the women who are suing him. The trial is expected to last several weeks.
When the civil case does resume, Scientology has already indicated that it will file anti-SLAPP motions as its next step, once again keeping the case from progressing to discovery.
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