Danny Masterson's Pending Rape Trial Could Become Next Supreme Court Fiasco

As Danny Masterson is set to go on trial in Los Angeles for multiple rapes in a few months, the Church of Scientology is again attempting to get the U.S. Supreme Court to step in. In the wake of losing a California appeals court case and being rejected by California's Supreme Court, the organization is now petitioning the SCOTUS to block four of Masterson's alleged victims from filing a lawsuit against it over a "vicious campaign of harassment against them," Deadline reported.

A practicing Scientologist, Masterson was arrested in June 2020 on three counts of alleged forcible rape at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003. He could be sentenced to 45 years to life in state prison if convicted.

Previous judicial jurisdictions have ruled that the four women at the center of Scientology's latest actions are no longer subject to the religious arbitration agreement they signed when joining the celebrity-driven sect. The Scientology organization petitioned the Supreme Court this week, asking that the California Appellate court's decision be overturned.

Scientology filed documents in Washington, DC, claiming its First Amendment rights are being violated under American contract law."The dispute here is simple," the documents state. "The Respondents, as a condition for joining Petitioners' church, repeatedly and expressly agreed to religious arbitration of any disputes between them and Petitioners, regardless of when those disputes arose. The agreement to submit disputes to religious arbitration is not anomalous." 

"American courts have long recognized the right of religious institutions to use dispute resolution procedures derived from and guided by their foundational beliefs and scripture. Secular courts have placed agreements to submit disputes to religious arbitration on equal footing with agreements calling for secular arbitration – and declined invitations to discriminate against religious arbitration just because it is religious."

"At some point, Respondents changed their minds and their faith," the filing continues. "They argued that their change of faith should free them from their contractual obligations to submit their disputes with Petitioners to the chosen religious forum.

Scientology lawyers Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP and Winston & Strawn LLP, argue in their petition for a writ of certiorari that California's Second Appellate Court aimed to undermine religious freedom by limiting First Amendment rights to religious arbitration agreements only.

Scientology initially succeeded at forcing arbitration in the immediate aftermath of the lawsuit the four women filed in the summer of 2019 against the That 70s Show alum. Alleging that he raped them in the first decade of the 21st century, the women reported the assaults to LAPD in 2016 and 2017.

After speaking to the police and the subsequent investigation into the rape claims, all four women cited harassment, stalking, threats through social media, and in one case, having a pet die and their home attacked by Scientology members, agents, or sympathizers.

The group denies involvement in these actions, including accusations of wanting to settle the issue privately. Meanwhile, Masterson is out on $3.3 million bail and has given up his passport due to concerns about his safety.

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Masterson, who was dropped from Netflix's Ashton Kutcher comedy The Ranch in 2017, maintains that he did not have non-consensual sex with anyone. In a ruling last month, Judge Charlaine Olmedo denied Masterson's motion to toss out one of the three rape allegations against him on the grounds that a delay in prosecution hurt the actor's case.