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Scientology’s response in Danny Masterson case appeal: ‘I changed my mind’ is not a defense

[Chrissie Bixler and Scientology’s attorneys, Forman and Hinks]

Just days after shocking testimony from three women who accuse Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson of raping them, the California Supreme Court made a stunning decision in favor of those same three women, who are also suing Masterson and the Church of Scientology in a civil lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that the women have been harassed since they came forward to the LAPD with their allegations in 2016, but Scientology convinced Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Steven Kleifield that the women had no right to trial because they had signed contracts while they were Scientologists obliging them to take any grievances they might have to Scientology’s internal brand of “religious arbitration.”

The women asked the state’s 2nd Appellate District to step in, but their petition was refused, and it also seemed likely that the state supreme court would also refuse their request for a review of the case.

But in the meantime, in criminal court the women got their first opportunity to testify in a four-day hearing that took place May 18 to May 21, and they provided horrific accounts of the violent sexual attacks they said they had been through. At the end of that hearing, Judge Charlaine Olmedo found that probable cause existed to justify a criminal trial, and she bound Masterson over. A trial date was tentatively scheduled for November. If Masterson is convicted, he’s facing 45 years to life in prison.

Just five days after the end of that hearing, the state supreme court — which had given itself several more weeks to make a decision — suddenly announced that it was granting the women the review of the “arbitration” ruling in the civil lawsuit.

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The state supreme court asked the superior court (that is, Judge Kleifield), to show cause for his decision, and asked the 2nd Appellate District to handle it. The 2nd District then set a date of October 5 for oral arguments, and a deadline of July 9 (last Friday) for a return on the order to show cause.

Instead of Kleifield filing that return, however, it was submitted by the attorneys from Scientology (William Forman and Matthew Hinks) and was joined by the attorneys representing Masterson. (A representative from the appeals court told us this was not unusual for the “real party in interest” to respond rather than the trial court itself.)

We have that response for you to look at. For the most part, it’s a restatement of the arguments that Scientology has made in this case and others that involve the contracts that members sign and their obligation to take grievances to “religious arbitration.” The document contains the usual bombastic and sneering tone we’ve come to expect from Scientology’s lawyers. Here is the opening.

“I changed my mind” is not a defense to enforcement of a contract. But Petitioners’ argument is just that. They propose a radical new rule that allows a party to disregard her voluntary agreement to arbitrate before a religious tribunal if she later claims to have changed her religious beliefs. No court has so ruled. To the contrary, this Court, and countless others throughout the United States, routinely enforce religious arbitration agreements and enforce judgments from religious arbitration panels…

As if sensing the brazenness of their argument, Petitioners invent a record to conjure harm, claiming that the trial court “forced” them into participating in a “religious ritual,” and assert – with no support – that enforcement of private arbitration agreements constitutes state action that violates the First Amendment. Neither the factual assertions nor the legal argument survives the first touch with reality.

Attorneys for Chrissie Carnell Bixler, her husband Cedric Bixler-Zavala, and Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 will have an opportunity on August 13 to file a reply.

Here’s the filing from Scientology’s attorneys:

Bixler v Scientology: Retur… by Tony Ortega

 
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Jay Spina asks for delay to today’s surrender to prison

Jay Spina, the Middletown, NY chiropractor and Scientology donor who was sentenced to 9 years for a Medicare scam, is scheduled to turn himself in to the Bureau of Prisons this afternoon at 2 pm.

However, just yesterday his attorney submitted a letter to Judge Karas asking for a two week delay. Why? Here’s the reasoning:

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At his sentencing I requested and the court recommended that Mr. Spina be designated to a satellite camp by the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) in closest proximity to his home. The BOP did not follow the Court’s recommendation and did not designate him to a camp but a low security facility Fort Dix FCI some two hours and forty minutes from his home. Mr. Spina has been working with Rabbis Katz and Berel who have been in contact with the Bureau of Prisons to attempt to have him redesignated to FCI Danbury low which is only approximately forty minutes from his family. A redesignation would make it possible for his father, who is over 80 years old, to visit his son while he is incarcerated. However, currently no beds are available but the Rabbis have been informed by BOP that a bed at Danbury will be available for Mr. Spina in the next few days.

I realize that this is a last-minute request but it was just presented to me by client earlier today to request to extend his surrender date for two weeks until July 27, 2021 so that a bed can become available and to further request the Court specifically recommend Danbury FCI. I have also learned that once Mr. Spina surrenders the BOP will not consider a transfer from FCI Fort Dix to FCI Danbury.

I have been in contact with Assistant United States Attorney Bradley and the government does not consent to this request.

Thank you for your consideration.

Late last night, we found Judge Karas’s response in the court file:

Application is denied. The BOP has made its designation and Mr. Spina waited until the last minute to tell his lawyer and this Court about his efforts to negotiate a different designation. To be clear, Mr. Spina must surrender as directed tomorrow.

 
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Leah Remini podcast: Katherine and Julian Wain

We talked to Julian and Katherine last fall, and we’re happy to see them get their own episode on Leah’s podcast. Says Mike: “Katherine is the sister of William Kilmartin. William was previously married to Leah’s sister Shannon. When Leah and her family left Scientology, William refused to disconnect, as a result his Scientology family members all disconnected from him, including his sisters and parents. William was then officially adopted into Leah’s family and is now Leah’s adopted brother. It’s a bit unusual and sort of complicated so I wanted to make sure it was clear up front here. After moving away from the LA area, Katherine and her husband reconnected with William and Leah last year. This episodes highlights just how insane the world of scientology is and how it literally destroys families.” Listen to the podcast right here!

 
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Source Code

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“Faith is a very fascinating subject. Faith can be artificially installed. You can take a person as a clinical experiment, hypnotize him and install the Great God Motaw. You tell him that the Great God Motaw is now taking care of his life, safeguarding him, looking after his concerns, will see that the future is all arranged for him, will see that all goes well and that everybody loves him, and will, beyond everything else, give him absolutely correct data every time he asks for it. The Great God Motaw, installed in such a circuit, more or less takes the whole computer, moves it over, and now he has the Great God Motaw sitting there. You can even install it so that the Great God Motaw has sonic, which is strictly hallucination.” — L. Ron Hubbard, July 13, 1950

 
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Avast, Ye Mateys

“The Supreme Test of a thetan is to make things go right. I want every divisional officer to spot those on the ship who pass this test.” — The Commodore, July 13, 1969

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“Again a tornado skips hitting the Scientology town of Clearwater, Florida. It happens time and time again. Would you like to know why? Because the church calls in its top wizards to use their thoughts to create reality, and these dudes sit around doing Scientology mind exercises and this sends the tornado away from Clearwater. Lol, I’m not joking, the truth about spiritual abilities is being hidden from us by the powers that be because only they want the powers!”

 
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Past is Prologue

1995: The Big Story aired in the the U.K. on Carlton Television’s ITV channel. To coincide with the broadcast, a demonstration was scheduled outside the London org on Tottenham Court Road. Apparently the church found out about the demonstration, and sent letters from Hodkin & Co. to several possible participants. “We put you on notice that if you participate in any unlawful activities against our client, or continue to participate in the same, legal action will be commenced against you without further warning. We accordingly require your written agreement that you will not engage in any unlawful activities against our clients, including, but not limited to, conspiring to injure, nuisance, trespass, interference and
defamation.” The demonstration went off without any unlawful activity, as several reports to a.r.s described: “There were 27 of us to start with. It was immediately obvious that we were going to have problems all fitting on the pavement outside the org – nice problem to have! – and the police were politely firm about spreading us out so as not to cause an obstruction. This definitely worked to our advantage, as the demo ended up on both sides of Tottenham Court Road, and spread over a distance of about a hundred feet – nobody was going to get past us without getting a copy of our leaflet.”

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Random Howdy

“Scientologists believe that the Narconon treatment can cure you of alcoholism and once completed you can drink in safety again. In fact from what I’ve read they sometimes make you drink before you leave to prove this.”

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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for August 9. Trial tentatively scheduled for early November.
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 Sept 9.

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 responded on June 25.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Oral arguments scheduled for Oct 5.
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: Third 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] Kelly Preston dies; Lisa Marie Presley loses son to suicide; Scientology remains useless
[TWO years ago] Scientology’s targeting of children is only getting more blatant as the church struggles
[THREE years ago] Scientology scrambles to keep Miscavige out of forced-abortion trial
[FOUR years ago] Almost 12 years ago, Shelly Miscavige vanished. Here’s why we keep asking about her.
[FIVE years ago] Hey, thetan: Scientology has a few questions for you
[SIX years ago] Hey, Star magazine, why is Tom Cruise afraid of Aussie journo Bryan Seymour?
[SEVEN years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology lets slip the reason it still produces L. Ron Hubbard’s bad fiction
[EIGHT years ago] Leaving Scientology: Jon Atack Navigates the Labyrinth of Paranoia
[NINE years ago] Scientology Gets a Smooch from the L.A. Times
[TEN years ago] Scientology’s Spy Program: Anatomy of a Covert Operation

 
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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 2,360 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,865 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,385 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,405 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,296 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,603 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,471 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,245 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,575 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,049 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,365 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,931 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,850 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,018 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,599 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,860 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,898 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,611 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,136 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 491 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,666 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,217 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,366 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,686 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,541 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,660 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,016 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,319 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,425 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,827 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,699 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,282 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,777 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,031 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,140 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on July 13, 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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