An attorney for Danny Masterson‘s accusers says they should not have to take their civil claims of rape and assault to an arbitration run by the Church of Scientology.
Masterson is awaiting criminal trial on multiple rape charges, and faces 45 years to life behind bars. His accusers have also sued the Church of Scientology, alleging that members of the church sent by elders stalked and harassed them after they reported him to the police.
Despite that, an L.A. Superior Court judge ruled that the church could put the suit through religious arbitration, citing an agreement the plaintiffs signed when they previously joined the church.
Their lawyer Marci Hamilton told the court: “This would be traumatizing for my clients. It would violate their First Amendment, absolute right to believe and practice whatever religion they choose and to escape the religion they do not want to be a part of.”
The church’s attorney William Forman said: “It is a covenant with the church. That is how we accept people into the church.”
A ruling is expected in the coming months.