Leah Remini suit against Church of Scientology likely to survive, trimmed

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LOS ANGELES (CN) — A Los Angeles County judge said Tuesday he would likely advance actor Leah Remini’s defamation and harassment lawsuit against the Church of Scientology, albeit with some claims dismissed.

The 53-year-old Remini, who starred for nearly a decade on the TV show “The King of Queens,” says she was forced into joining the Church of Scientology because of her mother’s devotion at the age of eight. She remained a member for more than 35 years, spending, by her own estimates, over $5 million on various services and donations to the organization. When she did finally leave the church in 2013, she became one of its most famous and vocal critics, writing a memoir “Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology,” and producing and starring in the docuseries “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.”

In the face of such criticism, the church responded, as it often does, by going on the offensive, producing a slew of videos and articles attacking Remini, posting them on a dedicated website, and inspiring its followers (and, perhaps, bots) to promote them on social media.

Last year, Remini filed a lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and its leader David Miscavige, claiming defamation, harassment, stalking and tortious interference with a contractual relationship. Among the very many accusations in the complaint is that Remini has been labeled by the church as a “suppressive person,” and is therefore considered “fair game.”

“For the past 10 years, Ms. Remini has been stalked, surveilled, harassed, threatened, intimidated, and, moreover, has 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,” Remini says in the latest version of her complaint.

The church, in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit on anti-SLAPP grounds — a legal maneuver used to quickly throw out suits that are meant to discourage free speech or public participation — argued Remini’s criticism of the church was nothing more than “hate speech,” and that the church and its members have every right to fight back.

Remini’s “attempt to tortify a public debate — that she initiated and has profited from — is why California enacted its anti-SLAPP statute,” the church argued in their motion. Videos, articles, tweets condemning Remini — all were protected speech, the church argued. As for the “alleged surveillance,” the church said this was all part of “a pre-litigation stance” in anticipation of a lawsuit filed by Remini, and was therefore also “protected conduct.”

In his tentative ruling, LA County Superior Court Judge Randolph Hammock wrote that he was likely to dismiss most, but not all, of the defamation claims against the church and leave most of the harassment claims more or less in place.

“In my 15 years on the bench, this is probably the hardest I’ve ever worked on a particular motion,” Hammock said, appearing to be enjoying himself as he presided over the three-hour hearing and painstakingly going over the 68-page complaint allegation by allegation.

Content retrieved from: https://www.courthousenews.com/leah-remini-defamation-suit-against-church-of-scientology-likely-survive-trimmed/.

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