Church of Scientology attorneys have officially filed an anti-SLAAP suit as part of the faith’s defense of the majority of claims in actress Leah Remini’s amended civil harassment/defamation complaint, in which the former church member alleges that intimidation of her picked up after she first sued the church this summer.
Scientology attorneys had informed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Randolph Hammock earlier this month about their intentions, and on Thursday they formally filed the anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit based on a law intended to prevent people from using courts, and potential threats of a lawsuit, to intimidate those who are exercising their First Amendment rights.
Church lawyers state in their court papers that they determined that the vast majority of the allegations in the 68-page revised suit implicates the church’s constitutionally protected speech or activity.
“This lawsuit is nothing but an attempt by (Remini) to stop (the) Church of Scientology International and Religious Technology Center from responding to her hateful attacks with truthful speech,” the church lawyers state in their court papers.
Remini wants to impose liability on the church for stating opinions about Remini’s “hateful conduct,” including that she continues to defend a man found liable for rape, the church attorneys further maintain.
“Indeed … plaintiff has not identified a single statement by the church that is neither an opinion nor true,” the Scientology lawyers state in their court papers.
When stripped of the allegations that depend on nonactionable statements, protected petitioning and that violate the statute of limitations, there is “virtually nothing left” of Remini’s suit, according to the church attorneys’ court papers.
A hearing by Hammock on the anti-SLAPP motion is scheduled for Nov. 28.
Remini’s original suit was brought Aug. 2 and included allegations of civil harassment, stalking, intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation. Scientology leader David Miscavige is also a defendant in both the first suit and the updated complaint.
“In the short period of time since Ms. Remini’s complaint was filed, Ms. Remini and others have been subject to continued, aggressive harassment,” according to the amended suit, which cites as an example a Scientology statement maintaining that the actress’ remarks had “generated threats of and actual violence against the church and its members” and suggesting that she consider moving to Russia.
In addition, since the lawsuit was filed, there has been evidence of potential fraud flagged on several of Remini’s credit cards and recently the business of Remini’s tutor was hacked, causing a $15,000 loss to his business account, according to the revised complaint. Before the lawsuit was brought, the tutor received Scientology promotions at his home, signaling the faith’s awareness when individuals are associated with the actress, the amended suit states.
In her updated complaint filed Aug. 29, the 53-year-old “The King of Queens” star seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, and she repeats her allegation that Scientologists “have undertaken a campaign to ruin and destroy the life and livelihood of Leah Remini, a former Scientologist of nearly 40 years, a two-time Emmy-award winning producer, actress and New York Times best-selling author, after she was deemed a suppressive person and declared fair game by Scientology in 2013, when she publicly departed Scientology.”
For the past decade, Remini has been stalked, surveilled, harassed, threatened, intimidated and “been the victim of intentional malicious and fraudulent rumors via hundreds of Scientology-controlled and coordinated social media accounts that exist solely to intimidate and spread misinformation,” the updated suit alleges.
The organization also has “incessantly harassed, threatened, intimidated and embarrassed Ms. Remini’s family members, friends, colleagues and business associates, causing her to lose personal relationships, business contracts and other business opportunities,” the amended suit again alleges.
“With this lawsuit, I hope to protect my rights as afforded by the constitution of the United States to speak the truth and report the facts about Scientology,” Remini said in a previous statement. “I feel strongly that the banner of religious freedom does not give anyone license to intimidate, harass and abuse those who exercise their First Amendment rights.”
Remini released the book “Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology” in 2015, and hosted the A&E documentary series “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” from 2016-19.
— City News Service