Judge Dismisses Parts of Leah Remini’s Harassment Lawsuit Against Scientology (2024)

A Los Angeles judge has thrown out portions of Leah Remini‘s lawsuit against Scientology, finding that some of the church’s attacks on her are protected under the First Amendment.

But in a mixed ruling, the judge also found that the church cannot claim free-speech protection for allegedly stalking, harassing and surveilling Remini, or for harassing producers and staff who worked on her anti-Scientology podcast.

Since leaving Scientology in 2013, the “King of Queens” actor has become its most prominent critic, writing a memoir and hosting two seasons of the A&E docuseries, “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.”

Last August, she filed a 68-page lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging she had been subject to a decade of online attacks, stalking and intimidation designed to punish her for her criticism of the church.

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The suit alleged that Remini was the latest in a long line of Scientology critics to be subject to so-called “Fair Game” tactics. Among other things, the church set up a website attacking Remini in highly personal terms, which included videos of her estranged father, who has since died, and accusations of her inciting “bigotry” and violence toward the church.

Scientology’s lawyers filed a motion to strike most of Remini’s lawsuit under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which protects speech on matters of public interest.

Judge Randolph Hammock issued a lengthy ruling on Tuesday, agreeing with the church that some of the allegations should be thrown out. He found that the church’s characterizations of Remini as a “bigot,” “racist” and “pro-rape” are opinions offered in the course of a high-profile dispute and that they do not rise to the level of defamation.

The “pro-rape” claim arose from Remini’s testimony in 2022 at the rape trial of writer-director Paul Haggis, another former Scientologist. Remini alleged that the church was behind that lawsuit. In response, the church branded Remini a “rape apologist” and circulated photoshopped images of her wearing clothing that read “I (heart) rapists” on X (then known as Twitter).

Hammock, in his ruling, found that such images, “while highly offensive and inappropriate, can only be deemed parody,” and thus are not actionable. “No one viewing those statements could take them literally,” he wrote.

Numerous other anti-Remini statements were dismissed because they were made more than a year prior to the filing of the lawsuit, thus falling outside the statute of limitations for defamation.

But the judge let stand other defamation allegations, including those regarding the church’s claims that Remini was verbally abusive to her daughter, that she refused to pay for her father’s cancer treatments, and that she “ransacked” her grandmother’s apartment.

Remini’s lawsuit also alleges that she has been followed by private investigators for the church, and that the church hired someone to put surveillance cameras on her neighbor’s house. The suit alleges that another person rammed the gates at her community and that yet another person smashed her mailbox with a hammer to try to steal her mail.

The judge rejected the church’s argument that any surveillance would have been part of protected “pre-litigation” activity and denied the motion to throw out those claims.

“The court sees no public interest in the surveillance of private citizens — even celebrities — under an unsupported suspicion that litigation may occur at some later time,” Hammock wrote.

Remini also alleged that the church harassed employees of iHeartMedia and AudioBoom, which handled production and ad sales for her podcast, “Scientology: Fair Game,” ultimately prompting both companies to end their contracts. The judge rejected the church’s effort to throw out contract interference claims as to those allegations.

The judge did dismiss an allegation regarding a proposed Vice News documentary about the disappearance of Shelly Miscavige, the wife of church leader David Miscavige. The judge found there is nothing other than Remini’s suspicions to show that the church was responsible for Vice’s decision not to move forward with the project.

Remini’s lawyers also sought a sweeping judicial order that would bar Scientology from conducting Fair Game attacks on its enemies, who are known within the church as “suppressive persons.”

The judge threw out that claim, saying it was “difficult to imagine” he could issue such an order “within the confines of the Constitution,” and that it was unclear whether such an order would have any practical effect.

“It goes without saying that courts need not issue declarations simply telling parties to obey the law,” Hammock wrote.

Under the anti-SLAPP statute, the prevailing party can file to recoup its attorneys fees from the other side. Given the mixed nature of the ruling, Hammock said he would entertain such a motion from either side.

In a statement, the Church of Scientology said it would seek attorneys’ fees from Remini.

“This is a resounding victory for the Church and free speech,” the church stated. “Remini’s complaint was gutted.”

Remini has alleged that the attacks on her have intensified since she filed the lawsuit, and that her credit cards have been flagged for potential fraud.

She is seeking an injunction that would bar Scientology from surveilling and harassing her, from posting defamatory messages about her, and from hacking her bank accounts. A hearing on that motion is set for September.

The trial is scheduled for October 2025.

Judge Dismisses Parts of Leah Remini’s Harassment Lawsuit Against Scientology (2024)
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