It's a make-or-break day for Monique Rathbun vs Scientology in a Texas courtroom - 2014-02-04
Judge Dib Waldrip makes a fist during yesterday's hearing. Photo: Mike Bennitt On January 8, Scientology attorney Ricardo Cedillo presented lengthy arguments for the 'anti-SLAPP' motion that his client hopes will destroy Monique Rathbun's harassment lawsuit against the church and its leader, David Miscavige.
Today, Monique's legal team has to outdo that argument if her lawsuit is going to continue.
Yesterday, Marc Wiegand began his presentation of that case, detailing the kind of surveillance and harassment that Monique and her husband, Mark 'Marty' Rathbun, went through after 2009, when Marty began publicly criticizing Miscavige, his former boss. For years, the Rathbuns were followed, photographed, confronted, protested, and denounced on their porch and on the Internet. The Church of Scientology has admitted to paying for that extraordinary effort, involving a small army of attorneys, private investigators, videographers, and other operatives. But in its motion, the church is claiming that it's Monique who is doing the harassing by filing her lawsuit. What the church was doing with its spying operation was simply sticking up for its religious beliefs and is protected free speech, Scientology argues. The church says Marty Rathbun picked a fight with Scientology by writing a critical blog and by conducting unsanctioned counseling at his home. Scientology sent private eyes, it argues, because it needed to protect its trademarks in a religious dispute that a civil court has no business getting involved in.