The Church Of Scientology Is Trying A Tactic Related To Accusations Against That ‘70s Show’s Danny Masterson That's Already Failed Twice

Danny Masterson on The Ranch
(Image credit: Netflix)

After being accused of rape by multiple women several years ago, That ‘70s Show alum Danny Masterson is now preparing to head to trial. As Masterson’s case plays out, the Church of Scientology is also in a legal battle as a result of his situation. The actor’s four accusers sued the organization for allegedly launching a “vicious campaign of harassment against them” after they made claims against Masterson, a noted scientologist. Now, in the hopes of preventing the case from moving forward, the church has employed a legal tactic, one that has been attempted twice already.

The Church of Scientology petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court this past week, asking that the court enforce a religious arbitration that would prevent the four women from suing it, per Deadline. The church previously tried this same legal method only to have it fail within both a California appeals court and the state’s supreme court. The CoS argues that the appellate court’s ruling should be overturned because its first amendment rights are being violated: 

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.

The petition also argues that through its ruling, California’s Second Appellate Court sought to “weaponize the First Amendment against religious freedom.” In the church’s opinion, the First Amendment “requires limitations applicable only to religious — and not to secular — arbitration agreements.”

The California Appellate Court ruled this past January that the four accusers, former scientologists, were not bound to such a thing. This was because each of the plaintiffs have since left the church. The group sued the church (and Danny Masterson) in 2019 and claimed that experienced harassment and intimidation from the church after making the rape allegations against the sitcom vet. They’ve accused the church of stalking them and issuing death threats, among other things.

Danny Masterson came under investigation after being accused of the alleged assaults in 2016 and 2017. The women claimed that the purported incidents occurred at the star’s home in 2001 and 2003. Masterson was fired from Netflix’s The Ranch in 2017 as a result of the claims and in 2020, was charged with raping multiple women. One plaintiff, identified as Jen B., testified during a preliminary hearing in May 2021 and detailed an encounter with the actor, during which he allegedly assaulted her and threatened her with a gun. The 45-year-old Masterson has denied the allegations. 

As of this writing, the actor is out on $3.3 million bail and is set to stand trial this fall. Should he be found guilty, he faces a maximum sentence of 45 years to life. It remains to be seen just how things play out in that situation, as is also the case with the Church of Scientology’s latest move. It’s currently unclear as to when SCOTUS might deliver a decision on that matter.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.