That 70s Show actor and Scientologist Danny Masterson has been facing serious sexual assault allegations from multiple women since 2017. These have resulted in Netflix writing his character off The Ranch and him being dropped as a client by the United Talent Agency. More recently, a further civil lawsuit against Masterson and the Church of Scientology was filed by four of the women who’d made those accusations alleging a campaign of stalking and harassment ever since they reported them to the police.
The claims are unnerving: one says that her dog appeared to gave been strangled to death, that they’ve been chased in their cars, unknown persons have broken the bedroom windows of their young children, that their family pet was fed rat poison, and that there are constant threatening presences snapping photos of them. The plaintiffs say this is all typical of the Church of Scientology’s notorious ‘Fair Game’ policy, which encourages retaliation against perceived enemies of the church.
Now Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Steven Kleifield has ruled that these civil complaints must be settled by the Church of Scientology in “religious arbitration”. What this means (as far as I can tell) is that as the plaintiffs are former Scientologists themselves, the documents they signed while members of the church mean civil allegations must be resolved internally. This effectively means the suit is dead, as there is no way the Church of Scientology is going to rule against themselves.
Tellingly, the judge didn’t rule on a similar complaint by a woman who isn’t a former Scientologist, underlining that even if you leave the church you’re still bound by whatever you legally agreed to while a member.
Danny Masterson is currently scheduled for arraignment on three rape charges on January 6th. If convicted, he faces a 45-year prison sentence.