March 1, 2024

The Church of Scientology should be labelled a “criminal enterprise” due to its “pattern of racketeering activity,” say the plaintiffs in the civil harassment case against the  David Miscavige-led organization and Danny Masterson. With three more rape claims against the incarcerated That 70s Show actor in a proposed second amended complaint, the accusers want the LA courts to allow mafia-inspired RICO charges to be included in the case now.

Related Stories

At almost the same time, in another lawsuit, the Church seems to have knee-capped its own argument that the one of the main reasons it harshly criticizes Leah Remini is because the former Scientologist has long been “inspiring violence” against Scientology and its leadership.

Heading toward a September 22, 2025, trial date, after various unsuccessful attempts by Scientology to get the 2019 filed harassment dispute by ex-members of the Church pulled out of the courts, the December 27 filed leave to amend (read it here) says the addition of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act is legitimate because “many of Scientology’s criminal enterprise’s money-making schemes are criminal in nature.” Looking at a hearing on the leave to amend motion set for February 27, the proposed 22-claim SAC from plaintiffs Chrissie Carnell Bixler, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Jane Doe #1, Bobette Riales, Jane Doe #2, and Tricia Vessey adds the Church “routinely and systematically engages in fraud, human trafficking, identify theft, and money laundering to fill its coffers and enrich its leadership.”

“Defendant David Miscavige is the undisputed and unquestioned leader of this criminal enterprise and derives significant financial benefit from Scientology’s criminal and unlawful activity,” the potential SAC bluntly says.

“The allegations about the Church are complete fabrications and the litigation nothing but an attempted money grab,” a Scientology spokesperson said to Deadline Tuesday. Represented by attorneys from Boies Schiller Flexner’s LA and San Francisco offices and Fort Lauderdale’s Edwards Henerson Lehrman, the now six plaintiff strong civil suit seeks a variety of damages and injunctive relief.

In their original complaint of almost five years ago, the original plaintiffs claimed they were put under surveillance by the Church, repeatedly harassed and had pets slaughtered after going to the LAPD with their rape claims against Masterson several years ago. Now, in part thanks to California’s statute of limitations lifting Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, which expired on December 31 last year, the SAC takes a much stronger emphasis on the sexual assaults and alleged sexual assaults by Masterson and Scientology’s active role in the aftermath.

 “While Scientology knew that Defendant Masterson was a rapist, due to Scientology’s criminal enterprise’s concealment of that fact, Plaintiffs Bixler, Riales, Vessey, and Jane Does 1 and 2 did not,” the LA Superior Court filing says, adding non-Scientologist Tricia Vessey as a sexual assault victim of Masterson’s. Along with alleged 1996 rape of actress Vesey, who testified at Masterson’s criminal trials, the proposed Second Amended Complaint also contains previously undisclosed allegedly covered-up rapes by Masterson of a 15-year-old Scientologist in 1994 and another female member of the Church in 1996.

“Corporate Defendants and Defendant Miscavige closely monitor and protect celebrity members,” the leave to amend notes. “To that end, upon information and belief, Corporate Defendants and Defendant Miscavige worked with Defendant Masterson to keep his sexual assault victims from reporting their abuse and mobilized an aggressive harassment campaign against the victims once the sexual assaults were disclosed.”

Filed on the same day that the multiple rape-convicted Masterson was transferred from jail in LA to North Kern State Prison in Delano, CA to serve the bulk of his 30 years-to-life sentence, the December 27 leave to amend from several victims in the actor’s criminal trials leaves no doubt that in their view all Scientology is interested in is money. Seeking now to significantly expanded the originally 2019 filed case, the plaintiffs claim the Church, which has high profile members such Tom Cruise, Elisabeth Moss, and John Travolta, will do anything to keep the cash flowing — especially it involves celebrities AKA “public ambassadors.”

Echoing language heard by prosecutors in Masterson’s two criminal trials, the December 27 filed leave to amend lays out how it alleges Scientology really works when you cross them – and the importance of famous members. See a portion of the suit below.

As with many criminal enterprises, Scientology’s takes steps to protect itself and its
co-conspirators from governmental authorities. Scientology’s criminal enterprise takes a two-faced approach to protecting its criminal activities: it simultaneously presents an innocuous front to the public while terrorizing any who speak out about its unlawful activity in order to intimidate them and dissuade them from seeking protection from law enforcement or from cooperating with governmental authorities.

In order to provide itself with a patina of legitimacy, Scientology’s criminal enterprise recruits celebrities to serve as its public ambassadors. Defendant Daniel Masterson is one such celebrity. During Masterson’s long association with Scientology, Scientology’s criminal enterprise used its resources to assist Masterson with his burgeoning acting career and provided him preferential treatment within Scientology. In exchange, Masterson publicly supported Scientology and its criminal enterprise (by, for example, claiming Scientology cures depression).

While presenting itself outwardly as a respectable organization, Scientology’s criminal enterprise has implemented a policy of terrorizing victims (and witnesses) of its crimes— whether or not those victims (or witnesses) are Scientologists—into keeping Scientology’s crimes secret. This begins by inculcating its members to distrust outsiders, and particularly to distrust governmental enforcement. Scientology’s criminal enterprise has a strict policy against reporting crimes to the authorities, and if a member does find the courage to go to the authorities, Scientology’s criminal enterprise and its agents engage in a coordinated effort to wreak havoc on the victim’s life through a targeted harassment campaign. These harassment campaigns extend to non-members as well, who are frequently targeted for harassment if Scientology’s criminal enterprise sees them as a threat.

The move to amend the long running suit by the Masterson criminal trial accusers isn’t the only legal spotlight Scientology is in right now. Onetime high profile Church member Leah Remini’s harassment suit of August 2 has taken a very odd turn, intentionally or not.

In a December 22 deposition from Taiwanese citizen Yi-Chen (Cathy) Wan, the currently LA-based Scientology volunteer religious worker detailed the January 2019 knife attack by enraged teenager “Tony” in Sydney, Australia that killed one Church security officer and wounded another. Scientology has long put blame for this this tragic incident on the Scientology and the Aftermath host, declaring Remini has “blood on her hands.”

Now in the LA Superior Court docket as a vital January 9 hearing looms in this case, Wan’s on the scene deposition (read it here) could be a potentially strong rebuttal to large swaths of Remini’s initial suit against the Church.  It could be, except the four-page deposition is an apparent contradiction to Scientology’s war of words and more with the King of Queens star. Wan says absolutely nothing about Remini in relation to the fatal attack, or anything else for that matter.

In fact, reaffirming previous Australian court findings on the incident, Wan’s deposition focuses on 16-year-old “Tony” being upset over potential pornographic material his Scientologist mother took off one of his electronic devices on the advice of a Church member. The boy was at the suburban Sydney Scientology location in the early afternoon of January 3, 2019 demanding to talk to “Steve,” who had supposedly promised “Tony” he could get the delated material back on his device. Frustrated over “Steve” not appearing immediately, Wan says that’s when “Tony” started slashing people.

After the police arrived and detained “Tony,” Wan had a conversation with his mother and the parent gave her a URL to an anti-Scientology site the teen had been recently reading. Wan says she “turned the address over the Church’s legal department” and that was that. That Chinese site, now no longer available but archived a few days after the murderous attack, appears to have a lot of criticism of the Church, but nothing about or from Remini.

Zero.  

Whether the point of this deposition will come up in the hearing set for next week in this case remains to be seen. In terms of the civil case by several of the accusers in Danny Masterson’s criminal trials, that jury trial set matter sees a February 13 hearing in downtown Los Angeles before LASC Judge Upinder Kalra on Scientology’s move to strike large portions of the suit.