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Reporting from Los Angeles: Danny Masterson’s civil and criminal hearings today

[Danny Masterson and his attorney Tom Mesereau]

UPDATE: Judge Eleanor Hunter arraigned Danny Masterson today and set a schedule that suggests an early November trial date. Next court hearing is August 9, when Masterson will argue a motion to dismiss the case on lack of evidence. Our updates from court below.

Once again we’re on the scene this morning in Los Angeles, bringing you coverage at Los Angeles Superior Court as Danny Masterson faces hearings in two different buildings, and he’s actually expected to be in person at one of them, his afternoon arraignment on criminal rape charges following a dramatic four day preliminary hearing.

But first, there’s a hearing scheduled at 8:30 am this morning over at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in the harassment lawsuit filed by the same three women Masterson is accused of raping, as well as the husband of one of those women and a fourth woman who also alleges that she was sexually assaulted by the That ’70s Show actor.

It’s that fourth woman, Bobette Riales, who is the subject of this morning’s hearing, and as far as we know the hearing is still going to take place, even though the California Supreme Court has put a hold on another part of the lawsuit, involving the other women and Scientology’s “religious arbitration.” The lawsuit was filed in August 2019 against Masterson, the Church of Scientology, and its leader David Miscavige. The five plaintiffs are suing not over the sexual assaults but over the harassment they say they’ve experienced since the women came forward to the LAPD in 2016 with their rape allegations. They claim that they’ve been subjected to surveillance, hacking, and other harassment, including the poisoning of pet dogs.

But Scientology successfully convinced Judge Steven Kleifield that the former Scientologists (all of the plaintiffs except for Riales) were obligated under service contracts they signed with the church to take any grievances to Scientology’s own brand of religious arbitration and denied their right to trial. In the meantime, the two sides and Judge Kleifield were trying to figure out what to do about Riales, who was never a Scientologist. Should her part of the lawsuit be put on hold while the others go through arbitration? We expect them to continue that argument today. But in the meantime, the California Supreme Court granted review of Kleifield’s ruling and has asked him to show cause for his ruling to force them into arbitration. We are looking forward to see what he has to say about that this morning. We’ll bring you word as soon as we can.

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The day’s main action, of course, is going to be the 1:30 pm criminal arraignment, with Masterson expected to be in attendance, which takes place at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on the ninth floor in Judge Charlaine Olmedo’s courtroom. Masterson, who has maintained his innocence and denies that he raped the three former Scientologists, is expected to make another not guilty plea. He’s also expected to turn over his passport. But we’re interested to see if other matters are raised in the hearing. Will Masterson’s famous defense attorney, Tom Mesereau, continue to represent him as Masterson prepares for trial? Mesereau is sometimes brought in only for the preliminary hearing, and so we’re curious to know if he’s sticking around.

Lots to consider, and we’ll get you word just as soon as we can.

 
Please see links to our reporting the Masterson investigation going back to 2017.

Updates from court will appear here…

 
Morning session, Judge Kleifield’s court

After taking care of some other matters, Judge Kleifield called the Bixler case. All of the parties had called in to the court’s Microsoft Teams platform. Stuart Ryan and Graham Berry were on the line for the plaintiffs, William Forman and Margaret Dayton for CSI, Robert Mangels and Matthew Hinks for RTC, and Andrew Brettler for Masterson.

Judge Kleifield: We are here on a motion for a stay on arbitration, and a case management conference as well, isn’t that right? I assume that you’re aware of the order from the state supreme court, and Division Five issued an order to show cause on the arbitration motion and issued a stay on the arbitration issue.

This appears to moot this motion, doesn’t it? the judge asked.

Ryan responds that if the court is going to adjourn the motion while they wait for the appeals court, he would understand it, but he says that he would still like to hear the motion argued.

Forman for Scientology agrees with the judge to putting over the motion until the appeals court can made a decision. The entire case has been stayed and should continue to be.

Judge Kleified repeats that he thinks the plaintiff motion to stay the case is moot for now and that ‘it’s all up to the court of appeal” now.

“There’s nothing for me to rule on here.”

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Forman then speaks up and says he just wants to put on the record that he thinks the deadline to file their anti-SLAPP motion against Bobette, which they’re still planning, should be moved along with the stay. The judge asks Ryan if he agrees, and Ryan says he doesn’t have a problem with it.

But Ryan then says he would rather the judge adjourn the motion for a stay rather than moot it, saying that when the appeals court rules, however it rules, they can then pick up the motion at that point and not have to refile it.

Judge Kleifield: That’s fine.

So now they start working on dates. The original plan was for hearings on June 30 and in October, and now the Judge proposes moving both to January. The parties agree.

Does that solve everything for today? the judge asks and gets the consent of both sides.

And that’s it. Judge Kleifield really didn’t indicate what he thought about the state supreme court calling for the review, and we’ll have to wait to see how he responds to it.

Oh, one more thing. Kleifield said he figured that however the appeals court rules, the losing side will petition the US Supreme Court. He’s probably right about that.

 
Arraignment

Well that was quick. The first little surprise for us was that it wasn’t Judge Charlaine Olmedo sitting in Judge Olmedo’s seat.

It was Judge Eleanor Hunter, who has handled some previous matters in this case.

Joining us in the courtroom was Jeffrey Augustine, who sauntered up just as the courtroom was opening up.

Smaller crowd than last time, but a few other reporters.

Danny’s mother Carol was the only person in his family section. Danny was wearing a blue mask this time and a nice grey suit.

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Judge Hunter was obviously anxious to get things going.

The usual folks made their appearances, Mesereau, Appelbaum, and Mueller.

The judge said she assumed Masterson was pleading not guilty, which his attorneys agreed to. She noted that the next date on the calendar was an August 9 motion to quash.

Hey, that’s ours!

Judge Hunter suggested they come back on that date and consider it “zero of 90,” meaning that it would be 90 days after that to the start of trial, suggesting an early November trial start. That’s fast. She asked Masterson if he would waive his right to a speedy trial (60 days from now) and he agreed.

Appelbaum then said she had some audio recordings that were used in the preliminary hearing that she was submitting to the court.

Then Judge Hunter brought up the passport.

Appelbaum produced it and handed it over to the bailiff.

Judge Hunter said that the passport would be sent to Virginia and would be held by the US Postal Service.

Appelbaum asked about discovery requests that they had made now that they were in a pre-trial phase, and the Judge suggested that she work it out with Mueller and Mueller can object if he wants to at the next hearing.

At the August 9 hearing, Danny will not have to appear personally.

Asked outside the courtroom about the mention of a “995,” Mueller said that it’s a defense motion to dismiss arguing a lack of evidence at the preliminary hearing. That apparently will also be heard on August 9, along with our quash. What a fun day that’s going to be. We might have to come back for that.

That’s all, folks! Danny is arraigned awaiting trial, his passport is on ice, and on the way out, he gave us a hard stare as he passed close by us, so we said, “Hey man,” thinking he might want to engage. He looked down at us and gave us a dismissive laugh on his way by.

Fun day in court, although very brief.

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Source Code

“I had a psychiatrist reading Dianetics, and he was rushing out every few minutes and putting the electrodes on somebody and coming back in. And he says, ‘Yes. Yes. I’ve looked at this book. This book came in the other day. It came in the other day. And I looked at it, and I’ve looked it over. And I’ve reported it to the association. I think it’s disgraceful.’ And he says, ‘I’m a Horney.’ I said, ‘Well what philosophy do you follow in your psychoanalysis?’ He says, ‘I’m a Horney man myself. I’m a Horney man.’ And he rushed out and strapped and shocked somebody else and came back in again. And he says, ‘I’m a Horney man.’ While he was gone, I saw the book Horney, Karen Horney. So I said, ‘Well, what is Horney? What is the Horney offshoot of Freudian analysis?’ and so on. He says, ‘I don’t know. I never read it.’ It’d be different if I was telling you that for a gag. But actually that’s totally factual. Unbelievably true. He was a Horney man, but he’d never read anything by Horney. I don’t know, how do you get it? Telepathic?” — L. Ron Hubbard, June 7, 1961

 
——————–

Avast, Ye Mateys

“Hey, on this cruise, where are we going? Any suggestions?” — The Commodore, June 7, 1969

 
——————–

Overheard in the FreeZone

“Hubbard spoke much and said little, except dying forever in the rigid apathy of MEST. What is the future of ALL beings? What cause does each being have in the fate of all other beings? What makes an eternal future acceptable? When does the being attain ‘the future is endlessly beautiful?’ I think people hide behind all this complexity and erudition of auditing because in fact they do NOT know the first answer to any of these questions, and they hope that with enough TIME getting mucked up in complexity and perfection of approach and secrets etc, they will one day realize their way out of an unconfrontable and untenable future.”

 
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Past is Prologue

2001: El Pais reported that the trial of Spanish Scientologists in Madrid will go forward without Heber Jentzsch. “The judgment against 16 members of the Church of the Scientology began yesterday in the Hearing of Madrid in spite of the absence of the main defendant and world-wide leader of this organization, Heber Jentzsch. The court decided to judge the 16 criminals who attended, the majority members of Dianetics and Narconon, and to hold another trial of Jentzsch if he ever returns to Spain. The US Department of Justice sent a fax to the Hearing of Madrid indicating that it was unable to serve the subpoena upon Jentzsch. The decision to go on with the trial was contested by the public prosecutor, who announced the possibility of appealing to the Supreme Court because he considers that Jentzsch (who faces possible sentences of a total of 56 years of jail for 12 crimes: injuries, illicit association, threats and fiscal fraud, among others) is a fundamental part of this trial. The 16 charged who appeared will be tried without their leader. Today, the parties will raise their previous questions and soon the interrogations will begin. The public prosecutor imputes a ten of crimes to these 16 defendant, and demands for them 26 years of jail.”

 
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Random Howdy

“I have mixed feelings about zoos and especially places like Sea World. To me it’s basically imprisonment and enslavement of other life forms. Unfortunately, by the middle of this century they are probably the only place many of these life forms will exist, so there’s the rub.”

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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Held to answer for trial, next arraignment set for June 7.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference August 21 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for June 18.

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 to US Supreme Court submitted on May 26. Scientology has until June 25 to respond.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court grants review on May 26, asks Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Second amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 24.

Concluded litigation:
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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THE PROSECUTION OF DANNY MASTERSON

We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.

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 BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. 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] The unanticipated pandemic benefit: Nutty Scientology online videos
[TWO years ago] Photo evidence which suggests, sadly, that Riley Keough has slipped back into Scientology
[THREE years ago] Testimony by the World’s First Real Clear, part two: ‘Scientology is designed to entrap people’
[FOUR years ago] Leah Remini’s ‘Troublemaker’ will become a Lifetime movie: Who plays Tom Cruise?
[FIVE years ago] NAFC names David Miscavige a witness in Scientology trial scheduled for October
[SIX years ago] When Tom Cruise was one of Scientology’s biggest donors: A look back
[SEVEN years ago] Ryan Hamilton makes it an even dozen federal lawsuits against Scientology’s rehab network
[EIGHT years ago]

 
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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 2,324 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,829 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,349 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,369 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,260 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,567 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,435 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,209 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,539 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,013 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,329 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,895 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,814 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,982 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,563 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,824 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,862 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,575 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,100 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 455 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,630 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,181 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,330 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,650 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,505 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,624 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,980 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,283 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,389 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,791 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,663 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,246 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,741 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,995 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,104 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on June 7, 2021 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, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), 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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