When it comes to the stalking and harassment lawsuit against actor Danny Masterson, the Church of Scientology, who is also named in the suit, is arguing that the matter should be settled within the church, not in a court of law.
Four women filed a suit against Masterson, 43, in August, claiming that after they went public with their claims that the actor sexually assaulted them and the church covered it up, the actor and his church retaliated by stalking and harassing them, USA Today reports. The suit reportedly accused both parties of various wrongdoing, including stalking, physical invasion of privacy, and a conspiracy to obstruct justice, among other allegations — claims which the actor, in a response delivered via his attorney, called “ridiculous.”
Now, the church is arguing that the matter is for it to settle, rather than a judge. In a motion to compel religious arbitration that was filed Tuesday, January 7 in Los Angeles Superior Court, the church argued that the four women — Chrissie Carnell Bixler, Marie Riales, and two women identified only as Jane Does — preemptively consented to “ecclesiastical rule” when they joined the church, and that agreement still stands, whether they’ve left the church or not, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The agreement that the women allegedly signed reads, “My freely given consent to be bound exclusively by the discipline, faith, internal organization, and ecclesiastical rule, custom, and law of the Scientology religion in all matters relating to Scientology Religious Services, in all my dealings of any nature with the Church, and in all my dealings of any nature with any other Scientology church or organization which espouses, presents, propagates or practices the Scientology religion means that I am forever abandoning, surrendering, waiving, and relinquishing my right to sue, or otherwise seek legal recourse with respect to any dispute, claim or controversy against the Church, all other Scientology churches, all other organizations which espouse, present, propagate or practice the Scientology religion, and all persons employed by any such entity both in their personal and any official or representational capacities, regardless of the nature of the dispute, claim or controversy.”
The motion also claims that the court would be overextending its rightful reach if they interfered, according to the outlet.
“The Church’s ecclesiastical arbitration is a condition of participating in Scientology services,” court documents read. “This Court may not interfere with this condition by imposing civil rules for arbitration. The Church’s arbitration agreements, as written and agreed to, must be enforced.”
Furthermore, the suit suggests that the court would be in danger of violating the first amendment by getting involved in the matter, the outlet reports.
“This Court may not impose its own notions of 'fairness' in deciding whether Plaintiffs’ agreements with the Church are fair or right. To do so would interfere with a Church’s rules over its members, which is clearly forbidden....” the motion reads.
Masterson was fired from the Netflix series “The Ranch” in 2017 after authorities confirmed that multiple women had filed reports accusing the actor of sexual assault, according to The Hollywood Reporter. After the accusers filed a lawsuit accusing Masterson and the church of retaliation, Masterson suggested in a statement obtained by the outlet that his former partner was targeting him maliciously.
“I’m not going to fight my ex-girlfriend in the media like she’s been baiting me to do for more than two years,” he said, with the outlet theorizing that he was referring to Bixler, with whom he was previously in a relationship. “I will beat her in court — and look forward to it because the public will finally be able [to] learn the truth and see how I’ve been railroaded by this woman. And once her lawsuit is thrown out, I intend to sue her and the others who jumped on the bandwagon for the damage they caused me and my family.”
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