A woman who appeared in an episode of “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” and later sued the Church of Scientology, alleging she was harassed by the organization in response to her work on the series, will have to arbitrate her claims internally within the church, a judge ruled Thursday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Burdge granted a motion by the church to compel arbitration and place a stay on Valerie Haney’s lawsuit, which was filed June 18, 2019. Church lawyers maintained the procedures for convening arbitration were in previous documents that Haney signed and which she reaffirmed in her departure agreement.

The judge set a post-arbitration status conference for Jan. 29, 2021.

According to her suit, Haney was born into Scientology in 1979 and remained with the organization until she managed to escape in 2016 by hiding in the trunk of car leaving a church compound in San Jacinto.

She returned to the church the following year to “rout out,” in hopes of maintaining some connection with her family, according to the complaint. She was told the process would take three weeks, but she claims she was held captive by the organization for three months and treated “like a prisoner.” According to the court papers, she was forced “to do everything with the accompaniment of a `handler,’ including using the bathroom, showering and sleeping.”

In a sworn declaration, Haney maintained she signed the arbitration agreement under duress.

“During the routing out process, I was made to sign the departure documents in a room with only Scientology’s general counsel and a man with a gun,” Haney said. “I do not know the contents of any of the documents I signed. I signed any document that was given to me because I just wanted it to be over and to get out of there.”

Haney’s attorney, Richard Thompson, told the judge that arbitration should not be ordered because most of the alleged harassment and stalking of Haney occurred after she left the church. When the judge replied that most of Haney’s suit dealt with her time in the church, Thompson said those details were placed in the court papers as background information.

Haney eventually escaped Scientology in 2017 and began working for Remini, the suit states.

In response to the show, the Church of Scientology “copyrighted and published a hate website against Jane Doe, Ms. Remini and almost anyone else who was featured on the show,” according to the court papers. “… Defendants used this page to disseminate false, defamatory and inflammatory information about Jane Doe.”

The complaint further alleges that the website “features untruthful and damaging blog posts, articles and videos dedicated to attacking Jane Doe’s personal and professional reputation, with complete and utter disregard for the truth.”

“In addition to the online smear campaign, defendants have stalked, surveilled and followed Jane Doe,” according to the document. “Beginning in 2017 through June of 2018, defendants and their agents have followed Jane Doe while she was driving. On more than one occasion, Jane Doe has been forced to change her route in an effort to curtail defendant’s surveillance efforts.”

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