Currently behind bars on a 30-year sentence for rape, Danny Masterson is heading back to court.
In a short hearing today in downtown LA, Judge Upinder Kalra lifted the long stay on the 2019-filed harassment case against the That 70s Show actor and the Church of Scientology. At the same time in 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 but two reasons the trial won’t start for nearly two years.
All three Jane Does in the civil case, in which Scientology unsuccessfully tried 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 were also all participants in the criminal case against Masterson, which saw him sentenced on September 7
Scientology did not respond to request for comment on the trial date from Deadline today Yet, as a joint status report from yesterday 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 May 31 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 his suit, former prominent Scientologist Remini is also seeking an injunction against the Church.
Since the Jane Doe civil case was first 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 may 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.
Still, the while 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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