Fact or Fiction: Alleged Rape Victims Must Arbitrate Claims within the Church of Scientology

Believe it or not, this is a fact!

Image Source: news.sky.com

In August of 2019 four women filed a lawsuit against the Church of Scientology. The women allege they were stalked and intimidated by Church of Scientology agents after reporting to police sexual assault allegations against actor Danny Masterson, best known for his role on “That ’70s Show”.

The women all claim that Masterson raped or sexually assaulted them in the early 2000s and reported their allegations to the Los Angeles Police Department in late 2016 and early 2017,

For example, Chrissie Bixler, one of the plaintiffs, alleges that she was chased in her car by two people who were filming her. Shortly after, her dog died, with signs of “traumatic injuries to her trachea and esophagus.”

Another plaintiff, Marie Bobette Riales, alleges that she has been followed and photographed — even on vacation — and had her email accounts hacked. The suit states that her child’s bedroom window was smashed in the middle of the night. She runs a food truck, and says it has been vandalized, false reviews were posted online, and fake ads offering to sell the truck have been posted online.

In January 2021, a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge ruled that the harassment complaint from three of the four women must be settled in “religious arbitration” by the Church since an arbitration agreement already exists among the parties that compels disputes to be handled by the Church of Scientology. These women were members of the Church of Scientology when the claims in their lawsuit arose.

One plaintiff, Marie Bobette Riales, was not a Church of Scientology member and never signed an agreement with the Church of Scientology and may be able to sever her case and proceed with her claims “independently,” the judge said.

So why are members of the Church of Scientology required to arbitrate their claims against the Church? As the Church’s Motion to Compel Arbitration alleges, each plaintiff signed an “Enrollment Agreement”) agreeing to the following:

“My freely given consent to be bound exclusively by the discipline, faith, internal
organization, and ecclesiastical rule, custom, and law of the Scientology religion
in all matters relating to Scientology Religious Services, in all my dealings of any
nature with the Church, and in all my dealings of any nature with any other
Scientology church or organization which espouses, presents, propagates or
practices the Scientology religion means that I am forever abandoning,
surrendering, waiving, and relinquishing my right to sue, or otherwise seek legal
recourse with respect to any dispute, claim or controversy against the Church, all
other Scientology churches, all other organizations which espouse, present,
propagate or practice the Scientology religion, and all persons employed by any
such entity both in their personal and any official or representational capacities,
regardless of the nature of the dispute, claim or controversy.”

The Church of Scientology further argues in its Motion to Compel Arbitration that a “core tenet of the Scientology religion is that parishioners and Scientology churches must resolve all disputes between each other exclusively through the Scientology internal Ethics, Justice and binding religious arbitration procedures,” and that “Only Scientologists have the background in Scientology necessary to apply those doctrines.”

Image Source: forbes.com

What do you think? Is there any chance this religious arbitration will be neutral or just? Should religious arbitration be permitted at all?

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