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In a short hearing today in downtown Los Angeles, Judge Upinder Kalra lifted the long stay on the 2019-filed harassment case against the That 70’s Show actor and the Church of Scientology. Also during the 10-minute session, the LA Superior Court judge set a trial start date for the case.
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Right now, Masterson and the David Miscavige-led Church are set to go to trial on September 22, 2025. In case you are wondering, court backlogs and an expected flood of discovery filings are among several reasons the trial won’t start for nearly two years.
With that in mind, and the indication the currently incarcerated Masterson intends to appeal his rape convicts, Judge Kalra pointed out that likely to be long process in teh criminal case reopens, discovery in the civil case will be delayed — which means the plaintiffs could literally run out of time under the statute of limitations.
All three Jane Does in the civil case, in which Scientology tried unsuccessfully last year to get the Supreme Court to intervene in, are former members of the Church. In their complaint back in 2019, the plaintiffs claimed they were put under surveillance by the Church, repeatedly harassed and had pets slaughtered after going to the LAPD with their claims against the actor. Delivering harrowing victims statements in court, the trio also were participants in the criminal case against Masterson, which saw him convicted on May 31 and sentenced on September 7.
Scientology did not respond to Deadline’s request for comment on the trial date today. Yet, as a joint status report from Monday displays, the Church did not want the stay lifted.
“The Church Defendants maintain that the current stay should continue because it is unclear whether Plaintiffs are filing an amended complaint,” the September 25 filing stated. “At the meet and confer, the Church Defendants asked Plaintiffs if they were intending to file an amended complaint, and Plaintiffs responded that they are contemplating an amendment and would notify all parties on September 25, 2023, if they were doing so. The discovery stay should be continued if an amendment is forthcoming so that the parties know of the current allegations when propounding and responding to discovery.”
Frequently mentioned in Masterson’s criminal trials that saw the prominent Scientologist found guilty on of two acts of rape, the Church was not a defendant in that case. However, Scientology is a defendant in Leah Remini’s August 3-filed harassment lawsuit. On August 30, the Scientology and the Aftermath co-host filed an amended complaint claiming the alleged harassment had ramped up since the initial suit was put in the court docket. Slammed by the Church as “a horrible person” and a hate-speech-spewing “bigot” for her suit, former prominent Scientologist Remini also is seeking an injunction against the Church.
Since the Jane Doe civil case was filed, Scientology has insisted that the matter of the harassment and surveillance accusations had no place in the courts. The notoriously publicity-shy Church declared that, due to paperwork the plaintiffs had signed as members of Scientology, such issues had to be dealt with behind closed doors in “religious arbitration.”
For a while, it looked like Scientology and Masterson might have halted the effort by the Jane Does and their families to make the case public, with the courts backing their stance. However, in early 2022, the Court of Appeal firmly overturned that lower court decision on a First Amendment basis.
The whole matter was put on hold as Masterson’s first trial and retrial and sentencing went forward. Obviously, while appeals are expected, that is no longer the case in the criminal case — which is why the stay was lifted today.
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