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Danny Masterson accusers: Scientology’s illegal behavior shouldn’t count as ‘commerce’

[Plaintiff Chrissie Carnell Bixler and defendant Danny Masterson]

As we near the December 18 showdown over Scientology “religious arbitration” in Los Angeles Superior Court, Danny Masterson’s accusers have now responded to the extraordinary briefing going on, and their argument is a powerful one: Scientology should not get to count its illegal harassment and stalking of former members as legitimate “commerce” in order to deny them the right to trial.

We know that the lawsuit involving Danny Masterson and Scientology is a complex one, and it isn’t easy to keep straight who’s suing whom and over what. Even the celebrity-obsessed media that was all over it when this case was first filed in August 2019 have dropped away from these preliminary matters. But we’re nearing an extraordinary legal moment in Scientology litigation, and we want to make sure you have a chance to understand what is going on.

Chrissie Carnell Bixler, her husband rocker Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Bobette Riales, and two women going by the names Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 filed this lawsuit in August 2019 alleging a campaign of harassment by Masterson, Scientology, and its leader David Miscavige. They say that the harassment was in retaliation for the women going to the LAPD in 2016 (and 2017 in the case of Riales) with allegations that Masterson had raped them in incidents between 2001 and 2004. When the lawsuit was filed, the LAPD investigation had been going on for nearly three years, and in that time, the plaintiffs claimed they had been subjected to an ongoing series of incidents involving surveillance, computer hacking, intimidation, and even their pets being harmed. It’s that harassment which is the subject of the lawsuit, not the rape allegations.

Since the lawsuit was filed, however, the LA District Attorney’s office did, on June 16, charge Masterson with raping three of the women (Carnell Bixler and the two Jane Does) and after several delays the That ’70s Show actor is scheduled to be arraigned on January 6 facing 45 years to life in prison.

Masterson denies that he raped the women, and Scientology and Masterson have denied in court papers and public statements that they harassed them as a result of the LAPD investigation. But Scientology is also trying to derail the lawsuit with the same tactic that was successful in lawsuits brought in two other cases: force the plaintiffs into religious arbitration.

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Carnell Bixler, Bixler-Zavala, and the two Jane Does were Scientologists at the time of the incidents, and so Scientology argues that the agreements they signed in order to receive Scientology services obliged them not to sue the church in the future, even after they left the organization. The church says that the agreements require them to take any grievances to Scientology’s internal arbitration, which must be carried out by a panel of three arbitrators who are members of the church in good standing.

Scientology was successful with this gambit in two previous lawsuits and they appeared to be well on their way to winning the same victory here. But then, after a November 6 hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Steven Kleifield took the extraordinary step of vacating the hearing, disregarding the arguments of both sides, and putting Scientology on the spot. He pointed out that Scientology’s arbitration argument was based on the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), which dates back to 1926, but that the act governs matters of “commerce.” Kleifield gave Scientology a little more than two weeks to come up with a document of only five pages or less explaining how “commerce” worked in this case.

How was it possible that stalking and libeling members years after they left Scientology could be considered interstate commerce under the FAA?

Scientology didn’t disappoint, coming back with a mindblowing statement of the organization’s essential venality last week. Scientology’s attorneys cited the allegations being made here, of harassment of rape victims, of excommunicating women for daring to go to the police, and argued that it was all covered in the agreements they signed.

Scientology, in other words, owned its bad behavior: Wrecking lives was the church’s “commerce.”

While that blew us away, we’re also pretty impressed by the document filed yesterday by attorneys for Chrissie Carnell Bixler and the other plaintiffs. They also had only five pages to make an argument, and so they settled on a strong one: That what Scientology had been doing for years was simply illegal, and so it couldn’t by definition be considered legitimate “commerce.”

Plaintiffs have a right to exit a religious affiliation…All claims alleged by Plaintiffs occurred after Plaintiffs left Scientology and therefore do not arise from the agreements which covered Plaintiffs’ religious services when they were members. Moreover, courts may not enforce contracts if any part of a contract is illegal. Here, it is illegal for Defendants to create an agreement to cover the criminal behavior at issue here…FAA has broad reach, but it may not be used to shield criminal actors…

That seems to us to be a pretty solid argument, and it seems like a smart way to give Judge Kleifield even more reason to deny these motions.

Here’s the document itself. We look forward to your observations…

 

Bixler v Scientology: Suppl… by Tony Ortega

 
SOME OF OUR PAST REPORTING ON THE MASTERSON CASE

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March 3, 2017: LAPD probing Scientology and Danny Masterson for multiple rapes, cover-up
March 8, 2017: Danny Masterson: Victim C gets support from a veteran actress
March 11, 2017: Scientology made Danny Masterson’s Victim B search past lives to explain being raped
May 9, 2017: Masterson hires Michael Jackson criminal defense attorney Tom Mesereau in rape probe
Nov 2, 2017: Read the threatening letter Danny Masterson’s attorney Marty Singer sent a victim’s husband
Nov 26, 2017: EXCLUSIVE: Scientology interrogated Danny Masterson and accuser, didn’t notify LAPD
Feb 14, 2018: PROSECUTORS PREPARE CHARGES CARRYING LIFE SENTENCE FOR DANNY MASTERSON
Apr 27, 2018: Strange days for a woman accusing Danny Masterson of rape — and for her rocker husband
July 8, 2018: Masterson witness fears for safety as investigation drags on and on
Nov 30, 2018: LEAH REMINI: Los Angeles DA Jackie Lacey, do your job already
Aug 14, 2019: RAPE ACCUSERS SUE DANNY MASTERSON, CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY, AND ITS LEADER
Jan 22, 2020: Cedric Bixler-Zavala blames Scientology for poisoned dog he had to put down yesterday
Feb 3, 2020: Here’s Scientology actor Danny Masterson’s legal response to his rape accusers
Feb 10, 2020: Another dog poisoned: Bobette Riales says harassment worse since suing Scientology

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Feb 26, 2020: SEVENTH victim comes forward to LAPD accusing Scientology actor Danny Masterson
Feb 29, 2020: Amended complaint filed against Danny Masterson with new stalking allegations
March 14, 2020: Danny Masterson’s victims speak out in sworn documents in lawsuit against Scientology
May 4, 2020: Masterson: Drop me from Scientology lawsuit if the ‘Jane Does’ won’t name themselves
June 17, 2020: SCIENTOLOGY CELEB DANNY MASTERSON CHARGED ON MULTIPLE RAPE ALLEGATIONS
June 19, 2020: Records show that Danny Masterson is a woeful Scientologist — would he turn on the church?
June 23: 2020: The key thing about Danny Masterson’s ‘DJ Donkey Punch’ nick is why he stopped using it
Sept 30, 2020: Could Danny Masterson’s odd legal fight over his Hollywood house endanger his freedom?
Oct 11, 2020: Danny Masterson asks to halt civil lawsuit while criminal case is ongoing, as expected
Oct 12, 2020: Bijou Phillips on her husband Danny Masterson: A macho ‘Strong Island’ guy
Oct 16, 2020: Danny Masterson ‘accidentally’ outs Jane Doe accuser after judge told him not to
Nov 16, 2020: Judge in Danny Masterson lawsuit doubts Scientology ‘arbitration,’ sets hearing
Nov 19, 2020: Danny Masterson takes another expensive and futile swipe at his criminal charges
Dec 1, 2020: If the feds are sniffing around, they might look at Danny Masterson’s besties
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Dec 4, 2020: WHOA! Scientology to Judge Kleifield: Wrecking human lives IS our ‘commerce’

 
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Source Code

“Recently I contacted some very interesting facsimiles of Captain Frank de Wolfe of the United States Army, who was wounded at Fort Donelson in 1862. You may think I am talking about a past death; I am not. I am talking about a sympathy facsimile picked up when I was about a year and a half old, evidently, on the death of my great-grandfather. I almost killed myself. I started running out a lot of emotional curves and life began to look more and more interesting, and then when I went to get up out of the chair I couldn’t get up. I wondered what this was all about so I began to run some more emotional curves, and then I suddenly recalled that my great-grandfather had a black cane with a solid gold dog’s head. It was a great little gimmick, this solid gold dog’s head. The facsimile which I had just finished running out was the facsimile of the death of my dog when I was 14, which tied in to the cane with the dog’s head, which was the death of my great-grandfather that occurred while I was still sick with pneumonia when about a year and a half old. Evidently my legs from the waist down had been out of valence most of my life.” — L. Ron Hubbard, December 10, 1951

 
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Avast, Ye Mateys

“So evidently there’s a grade of ‘animal’ according to the very best professors. Looking it over, modern ‘education’ and all, we then have the job of moving people up on this course action with which there would be wide agreement due to teachings in universities. Animal + Technique Zed = Human Being + Dianetics to Grade IV = Homo Novis + Power, R6EW and CC = Clear + OT grades to OT VII = Operating Thetan + what research I’m now doing equals ( ). There are a lot of in betweens and a lot of tech but those are the major points.” — The Commodore, December 10, 1970

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“Every person he owed money to, including me and except Mary who took hers to Court (hers was different, not an advance payment but a specific loan) we worked out a handle so the person wasn’t harmed. He then received L10 and L12 from me. So how then is he in a condition of Enemy? The treason/enemy conditions were always wrong indications, the condition was danger that never never were fully handled and so repeated.”

 

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Past is Prologue

1997: In a USA Today interview, Scientology celebrity Kirstie Alley discussed Scientology and psychiatrists. “‘I’m a Scientologist all the way!’ Alley says. ‘I don’t like it when a journalist writes something like ‘the controversial Church of Scientology’ in an article about me. I didn’t say that, they said that. So they’ve tainted it. If I’d known they were going to say that, I wouldn’t have even talked to them. It’s like me saying, “the controversial Jew who interviewed me today.” What Jewish controversy was there?’ Alley had a more emotional motive for appearing as Woody Allen’s jilted psychiatrist wife in Deconstructing Harry. ‘I don’t like psychiatry,’ Alley says. ‘And I don’t believe it works. And I believe psychiatrists are neurotic or psychotic, for the most part. I wanted to play her that way, and Woody just totally let me do it. I said, “I want to be taking Prozac or drugs during the session with her patient.” I wanted to show that this woman is so twerked out that she has to take drugs, too. She takes her own medicine. So he said, Yeah! That’s a good idea.'”

 
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Random Howdy

“Miscavige is a crime boss. If you’re a crime boss or a loan shark you can’t let somebody disrespect you or not pay back a loan, you have to make an example out of them to keep the rest of the underlings in line. This is more important than public perception.”

 
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Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Masterson’s demurrer denied Oct 19, arraignment delayed to Jan 6.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay’s sentencing delayed for ‘Fatico’ hearing on Jan 19.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Next pretrial conference set for Jan 12 in Los Angeles

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Petition for writ of mandate denied Oct 22 by Cal 2nd Appellate District. Petition for review by state supreme court filed Oct 30.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Dec 18, re-hearing on motions to compel arbitration; Jan 29, Masterson’s request to stay discovery pending the criminal case
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Nov 18: Feshbachs indicated they will enter into consent judgment to pay the debt.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Second amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.

Concluded litigation:
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs.
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.

 
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SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks

The Australian Seven News network cancelled a 10-part investigation of Scientology and its history of dirty tricks. Read the transcripts of the episodes and judge for yourself why Tom Cruise and Tommy Davis might not have wanted viewers to see this hard-hitting series by journalist Bryan Seymour.

SCIENTOLOGY: FAIR GAME

After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.

LEAH REMINI: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE AFTERMATH

An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.

SCIENTOLOGY’S CELEBRITIES, from A to Z

Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

 
Other links: Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] George Gascón goes there: Elect him Los Angeles D.A., and Danny Masterson gets a fresh look
[TWO years ago] Scientology school sinks to new low, but the federal dollars keep pouring in
[THREE years ago] A close up look at how human rights abuser Scientology is touting human rights as a front
[FOUR years ago] The way to break free from Scientology’s mind trap: Admit to yourself that you’re gullible
[FIVE years ago] DOX: Woman sues Pasadena company for forcing Scientology on her
[SIX years ago] Marc Headley responds to sliming Scientology gave him at the ‘International Business Times’
[SEVEN years ago] The big reveal: What you actually learn on Scientology’s Operating Thetan Level Three
[EIGHT years ago] Nazanin Boniadi Speaks! Or Rather, Raps, About Scientology’s “Blind Alley”
[NINE years ago] Scientology Subluxation: Commenters of the Week!

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,146 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,650 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,170 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,190 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,081 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,388 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,256 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,030 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,834 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,150 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,716 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,635 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,803 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,384 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,645 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,683 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,396 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,921 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 276 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,451 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,002 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,151 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,471 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,326 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,445 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,801 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,104 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,210 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,612 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,484 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,067 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,562 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,816 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,925 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on December 10, 2020 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2019 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2019), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele

 

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