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Ex-Scientologist Claims She Was Subjected to 'Psychological, Emotional Abuse' in Ongoing Court Battle

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Valerie Haney, the woman suing the Church of Scientology for alleged kidnapping, has accused the organization of subjecting her to "trauma, employment problems, and worse" in a court-ordered religious arbitration.

Jun. 11 2024, Published 7:10 a.m. ET

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Valerie Haney, the woman suing the Church of Scientology for alleged kidnapping, has accused the organization of subjecting her to "trauma, employment problems, and worse" in a court-ordered religious arbitration. obtained letters filed in Los Angeles, Calif. on behalf of each party, regarding the drawn-out process that Haney's lawyers characterized as a "forced" arbitration that "deprived [Haney] of her basic due process rights."

The May 30 letter filed on Haney's behalf argued that the church was trying to "wear [Haney] down with endless berating, mental abuse, and delays," and that their lawyers were "dragging this purported 'religious arbitration' on month after month."

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Haney was ordered to follow the Church of Scientology's arbitration process after suing the religious giant.

The church disagreed in its letter on June 4, blaming Haney and her lawyers for the delays, citing alleged last-minute cancellations and other scheduling conflicts by the plaintiff.

As this publication reported, Haney filed the lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige, in 2019. She alleged the church held her against her will as she worked for the Sea Organization near Hemet, and claimed she was able to get away by hiding in the trunk of a car driven by an unnamed actor who was on the base filming. Haney was formerly an assistant to Leah Remini, another ex-scientologist battling the religious giant in a separate court case.

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Remini, 54, sued the church in 2023 over alleged stalking, harassment, and defamation.

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Scientology argued that Haney signed employment contracts preventing her from suing, and that and if she wanted to pursue the allegations, she would need to do it the church's way — through arbitration. A judge agreed, and ordered Haney to move forward with Scientology's arbitration process, or risk the case being thrown out.

Haney's lawyers argued that because it had been at least eight years since their client identified as a Scientologist, she should not be "subjected" to the church's "language and procedures," and should instead be "afforded regular court and due process." They also claimed that Haney was "coerced" into signing "several so-called contracts" when she was "a young teenager."

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Last June, she requested the arbitration process be completed by September 30, 2023, but it did not begin until October, when it was postponed until January. Two post-arbitration status conference hearings have also been postponed: one scheduled for November 2023 and another last week, on June 5.

In October, Haney sat for three days of arbitration by the church's "Committee of Evidence," followed by two more days in February of this year, and her lawyers claimed that these meetings were meant to cause her "continuing and new trauma, physically and mentally exhaust her, and ultimately drive her to lose her employment and to dismiss this case."

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Haney filed the lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige, in 2019.

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During the process, her attorneys claimed, she was forced to "relive traumatic experiences and to disclose deeply personal information, all without the benefit of prior document review."

The panel allegedly refused to give her access to "the critical documents that the arbitration panel was scrutinizing," and therefore Haney "was forced to read hundreds if not thousands of pages in front of the arbitration panel," her attorneys said.

Among these documents were contracts signed by Haney "while she was a child...working over 100 hours per week in what would normally be labelled as 'involuntary servitude.'"

The committee also allegedly "had obtained thousands of personal photographs and several videos that they had refused to return to her," like photos of her "childhood, engagement, wedding, honeymoon," and "spent hours examining all of these personal photos before putting them away again and then cruelly refusing to let [Haney] have them back."

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Finally, Haney's lawyers claimed she was subjected to "psychological and verbal abuse" when the church panel brought in more than 10 "surprise witnesses" who "scream[ed]" and "yelled at [Haney]," calling her "a liar" and questioning "her motives." She was allegedly not allowed to respond or "ask a single question."

The letter then went on to cite a policy in the church that states "those who attack Scientology" become a "Suppressive Person," arguing this policy was "meant to exhaust both the Plaintiff and the American judicial system."

The lawyers demanded the court "set a date for the completion of this farce," which they said was "masquerading as an 'arbitration.'"

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Five days later, lawyers for the Church of Scientology submitted a statement arguing Haney's letter was "laden with hearsay and demonstrably false statements, designed to interfere with the in-progress, court-ordered arbitration, and to intimidate and harass the arbitrators."

They claimed Haney and her lawyers were responsible for the delays, and noted that Haney had "nominated two of the three arbitrators."

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After an intense back-and-forth, with Haney failing to recruit the church's most famous members, Tom Cruise and Elisabeth Moss, into the process, reported in March of last year that two arbitrators had been approved in the lawsuit, but their identities were withheld.

"The Court must stop this abuse by not setting a further status conference," the defendant letter stated, adding a request for the court to order that "the parties may NOT submit status reports in advance of the conference." The church said the religious arbitration would resume on August 19.

The judge in the case rescheduled the post-arbitration status conference hearing for February 20, 2025, and wrote that "Parties are not to file Status Reports."

We reached out to the church's reps as well as Haney's lawyers for comment.

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Haney's attorney, Graham E. Berry, who wrote the May 30 letter, sent us a statement with his takeaways from the hearing, expressing some frustration over Scientology attorney William Foreman allegedly telling the court "it had no power to do anything." Instead, Foreman suggested the judge "just set another Status Conference eight months out," Berry said.

"The judge informed me that she had no power to end the arbitration," he added, accusing the judge of being "dismissive."

"I noted that the Scientology arbitration agreement contains no time limit and drew her attention to Code of Civil Procedure section 1283.8 which provides in that situation a party may petition the court fix a time within which the arbitration award must be made," Berry continued.

He pointed out that the Church of Scientology website states, "Any justice action in Scientology is expected to be concluded within a week of being convened, saving the parties involved the unnecessary stress of lengthy delays."

Berry called Scientology's arbitration process "so abusive of Valerie who is clearly treated as being Suppressive Persons to be 'destroyed by any mean possible,'" claiming they were using "thought control, coercive indoctrination, and mental manipulation."

"We have to get this case before the California Supreme Court and maybe the Supreme Court of the United States in order to get a judicial revision of the rights of former member plaintiffs in a religious arbitration," he said, adding, "We also need another California appellate decision that a former member is no longer bound by an religious arbitration agreement where secular crimes and torts are alleged (even if committed against the former member whilst that former member was still in the group."

"In addition, Church – Member contracts should be precluded from containing mandatory religious arbitration of secular crimes and torts, or containing mandatory general releases."



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