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Danny Masterson harassment suit must go through Scientology mediation, judge rules

The plaintiffs claim they were stalked and intimidated by the church's agents after going to police to report rape allegations against the actor.
Actor Danny Masterson Charged With Rape
Danny Masterson is arraigned on rape charges at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on Sept. 18 in Los Angeles.Lucy Nicholson / Getty Images file
/ Source: Reuters

LOS ANGELES — The stalking and intimidation cases brought by four women who have accused TV actor Danny Masterson of rape must now go through mediation within the Church of Scientology, a Los Angeles judge ruled Wednesday.

The ruling comes just days before Masterson's scheduled arraignment on three charges of rape between 2001 and 2003. In early November, that hearing was set for Jan 6.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Steven Kleifield ruled that the harassment complaint from Chrissie Carnell Bixler, her husband, musician Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Marie Bobette Riales and two Jane Does must be settled by the Church in "religious arbitration," since an arbitration agreement already exists among the parties that compels disputes to be handled by the Church of Scientology.

The August 2019 suit alleged the plaintiffs had been stalked and intimidated by the church's agents after going to the police to report the allegations. Carnell Bixler has alleged that Masterson repeatedly sexually assaulted her while they were dating in 2001 and 2002. Bixler-Zavala alleged that "agents of the defendants" assaulted them by means including poisoning their dogs, assaults using automobiles and harassing phone calls.

Jane Doe #1 also alleged harassment by property damage, threats of violence, assaults and sexual harassment as retribution for reporting her alleged rape to police. Jane Doe #2 was also part of the lawsuit that alleged infliction of emotional distress, stalking and invasion of privacy by the defendants.

Masterson's attorney Andrew Brettler said, "This was absolutely the correct result. We look forward to arbitrating the claims, as the Court directed."

A decision was not made on the claims by Bobette Riales, who was not a member of the church and thus not subject to the arbitration agreement.

A status conference on the arbitration was set by the court for June 30.