In Texas, the Church of Scientology took another big hit when a judge ruled the harassment lawsuit against the organization would proceed. The lawsuit was filed by the wife of Tom Cruise’s former auditor, Mark “Marty” Rathbun.
Monique Rathbun filed the harassment lawsuit against Scientology and leader David Miscavige last August. In the court documents, Rathbun alleges that she’s been harassed, followed and had private investigators looking into her family and friends.
Rathbun was never a member of the Church however her husband, Marty Rathbun was a high ranking member until he left Scientology several years ago. Since leaving the organization, Marty Rathbun has been an outspoken critic of the religion.
The Church of Scientology filed an ANTI-SLAAP motion which would have had the lawsuit ultimately dismissed. However, Judge Dip Waldrip denied the motion allowing the lawsuit to continue.
Scientology lawyers have argued that the lawsuit violated their First Amendment right to free speech. Judge Waldrip handed down a long 25-page decision in which he disagreed. Waldrip wrote in the decision, “The primary reason Church of Scientology International initiated the complained-of activity was to investigate alleged infringement of its intellectual property rights by both Mark and Monique Rathbun allegedly occurring as early as January 29, 2009, if not before.”
“No evidence indicated that either defendants CSI or the Religious Technology Center has ever sent Mark Rathbun a cease and desist letter or sued Mark or Monique Rathbun for infringement of intellectual property rights or any other cause of action.”
Judge Waldrip went on to write that Monique did provide a legal foundation “sufficiently established by a preponderance of the evidence that she suffered stress, anxiety and fear that have resulted in severe headaches, including migraines with debilitating pain due to surveillance of investigators and Squirrel Busters, she further attested that as a result of these activities she suffered an extreme gagging nausea, and Plaintiff averred she developed a hyper-sensitivity to light and was unable to eat or concentrate due to headaches.”
Monique didn’t meet Marty Rathbun until 2005 which was after he’d left the Church of Scientology. The couple started their new life in Texas however; court documents reveal that Monique maintains that she was “intentionally targeted by OSA [Office of Special Affairs] merely because of her relationship with Mr. Rathbun.”
“She has been subjected to numerous, aggressive attempts to intimidate her. She has been targeted at home, at work and anywhere else that she happens to be. He has been harassed, insulted, surveiled, photographed, videotaped, defamed and humiliated to such a degree as to shock the conscience of any decent, law-abiding person.”
In her court documents, Monique Rathbun documented specific harassments she suffered simply because she was a woman. “Presumable because I am a woman, the defendants seem obsessed with my sexuality.”
“They sent a sex toy to me at my workplace, which was very embarrassing. With their constant surveillance of me, they knew when I was away from the office, at which time they sent flowers to one of my female co-workers with a ‘romantic’ message purporting to be from me.”
“Of course this was distressing to me. Scientology websites have published bizarre and sometimes vile allegations against me, including false claims that I am a sexual pervert. They have even alleged that I am not even a woman, but a man who has had a secret sex change operation.”
“So, I have even had my womanhood questioned as part of this sick campaign to inflict maximum emotional distress on me.”
Ray Jeffrey, Monique Rathbun’s attorney stated that had the church left the Rathbun’s alone, they never would have filed the lawsuit. Jeffrey went on to say about the move the couple made from Ingleside On The Bay in Texas to Comal County, “They loved that house down there, but they had to leave. And if the church had left them alone Monique wouldn’t have sued.”
The Rathbun’s maintain that even after they moved to Comal County, the church continued to hound them. They insist that the church had a man living in an RV on the undeveloped piece of land next door to the Rathbun’s home.
Judge Waldrip also ordered the Church of Scientology to pay the legal fees incurred by Monique Rathbun to defend herself against the ANTI-SLAAP motion. Multiple requests to the church for comment have gone unanswered.
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