A judge ruled Wednesday that a lawsuit filed by four women against the Church of Scientology, alleging they were stalked and harassed after filing sexual assault allegations against actor Danny Masterson with Los Angeles police, was not properly served on the church’s leader.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Steven Kleifield found that there was no evidence court papers were presented to David Miscavige, whose official title is chairman of the board of the Religious Technology Center, a corporation that controls the trademarks and copyrights of Dianetics and Scientology.
Last Aug. 22, plaintiffs Chrissie Carnell Bixler, Bobette Riales and two Jane Does sued the church, Miscavige and Masterson, a Scientology church member identified in the suit as the ex-boyfriend of all the plaintiffs. The women allege that strangers turned up around their homes, sometimes looking inside with flashlights. They also maintain their email accounts were compromised and that their credit cards stolen.
They additionally allege that they were followed by other cars while driving and that one of them was forced off the road. They all say their car doors and trunks were mysteriously left wide open.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs, who filed an amended suit on Feb. 28, told the judge they will try again to serve Miscavige.
Meanwhile, a hearing on the church’s motion to force the plaintiffs into arbitration, scheduled for hearing on March 18, was canceled in the wake of the amended complaint.
The revised lawsuit prompted criticism from Masterson’s lawyer, Andrew Brettler, who told Kleifield that he would not have gone to the trouble of filing court papers seeking dismissal of the allegations against the actor had the plaintiffs’ attorneys been forthright and told him of their intentions. Brettler said that unlike the church, Masterson is not bound by any arbitration agreement with the plaintiffs.
Lawyers for the church said that despite the amended complaint, they will file new court papers once again seeking to force the case into arbitration.
In a sworn declaration filed by Bixler that was filed in opposition to the original church arbitration motion, she said she knew nothing about any agreement to arbitrate disputes with the church. She also alleged that Masterson repeatedly abused her.
“I was sexually assaulted by Danny Masterson numerous times between approximately 1997-2002,” Bixler said.
She said that she reported the alleged assaults to the church and that in 2002, she “fled” from the emotional, physical and verbal abuse she allegedly suffered while in a relationship with Masterson. She also said she remained in the church for a while, but did not regularly receive religious services.
One of the Jane Does said in a separate declaration that she was sexually assaulted by Masterson in 2002-03 and that the church ordered her into an “ethics program” after she complained of the actor’s alleged abuses.
The second Jane Doe states in her own declaration that Masterson sexually abused her in 2003-04 and that she told the actor’s former personal assistant what allegedly happened, not knowing that the aide was still friends with Masterson. Soon thereafter, other Scientologists “began to disconnect from me on social media,” she said.
Asked about the allegations against Masterson in the Bixler declaration, Brettler said he had not seen it, but added there was no reason to bring up his client because the actor has nothing to do with whether the plaintiffs should have to arbitrate their claims with the church.
Masterson co-starred in the Fox series “That ’70s Show” from 1998 to 2006. In 2017, he was fired from the Emmy-winning series “The Ranch” amid sexual assault accusations involving several women dating back to the early 2000s.