Four people have brought civil cases of stalking and intimidation against former That 70’s Show actor Danny Masterson. Now, a judge has ruled they will have to take their accusations to religious arbitration with the Church of Scientology. While this is disappointing news for the plaintiffs in the civil case, the criminal charges against Danny Masterson for three cases of rape are continuing to move forward through the courts. He faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted.
The four people involved in the civil case include Chrissie Carnell Bixler, Cedric Bixler-Zavala (a musician, and the husband of Chrissie Carnell Bixler), and two Jane Does. The plaintiffs are all former members of the Church of Scientology. Upon becoming members, they signed agreements that the judge ruled still applied in this case. There is another woman, Marie Bobette Riales, who has also made a complaint of stalking and intimidation against Danny Masterson. Her case remains in the courts at this time, as she was never a member of the Church of Scientology.
Danny Masterson, who played Hyde on That 70’s Show and was later on the Netflix comedy The Ranch, has been accused of raping multiple women. In 2017, Netflix dropped him from The Ranch when these allegations came out, and since then, more information has come about the accusations against Masterson. Masterson is facing criminal charges moving forward, and the civil case for intimidation and stalking. This made the events surrounding the accusations more complicated. Some of that complication comes from the Church of Scientology, of which Masterson has been a member throughout his career. There have been many stories of the church intimidating its members and critics into silence.
What does Scientology have to do with Danny Masterson’s rape allegations? The people who have accused Danny Masterson of stalking and harassing them are also suing the leader of the church and the church itself. In one horrific example, the plaintiffs say that the church was involved in poisoning their dog to intimidate them into silence.
The church is also involved in the civil case against Danny Masterson because when members join this church they sign an “ecclesiastical rule” agreement. In the United States, there is something called the Federal Arbitration Act, which says that people can sign contracts that confirm mutual consent to deal with legal disagreements through arbitration. This means is that you can’t sue the people you’ve gotten into this type of agreement with. These kinds of agreements have been used in employment contracts, contracts for signing up for satellite television, and are heavily used by the Church of Scientology.
In the civil case against Danny Masterson, the group hoped the judge would rule that their case could be handled in the United States court system. Ultimately, the judge ruled to uphold the arbitration agreement members of the church sign upon joining. It’s hard to believe anything will be gained by those suing Masterson from the religious arbitration. Danny Masterson is still a member of the church, while the others are not.
While that may be the result Danny Masterson was hoping for in his civil case, his criminal case is still moving ahead. The courts have postponed many dates due to the pandemic, but his arraignment for the criminal case is scheduled for January 6, 2021.