An initial court date in November has been set in a lawsuit filed this week by actress Leah Remini, a longtime critic of Scientology and herself a former member of the religion, alleging that she has been stalked and harassed since leaving the faith in 2013.
The Los Angeles Superior Court complaint filed Wednesday includes allegations of civil harassment, stalking, intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation. Scientology leader David Miscavige also is a defendant. On Friday, Judge William F. Fahey scheduled a case management conference for Nov. 30.
The church issued a statement Thursday in response to Remini's suit.
"This lawsuit is ludicrous and the allegations pure lunacy," the statement read. Remini spreads hate and falsehoods for a decade and is now offended when people exercise their right to free speech, exposing her for what she is, an anti-free speech bigot."
The church is "not intimidated by Remini's latest act of blatant harassment and attempt to prevent truthful free speech," the statement further read. "If Remini does not believe in free speech, then she should consider emigrating to Russia."
In her complaint, the 53-year-old "The King of Queens" star seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
"Here, defendants have undertaken a campaign to ruin and destroy the life and livelihood of Leah Remini, a former Scientologist of nearly 40 years, a two-time Emmy-award winning producer, actress and New York Times best-selling author, after she was deemed a suppressive person and declared fair game by Scientology in 2013, when she publicly departed Scientology...," the suit states.
For the past decade, Remini has been stalked, surveilled, harassed, threatened, intimidated, and "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," according to the suit.
It further alleges that Scientology has elevated the reach of some posts by using its tax-exempt funds to pay social media companies to promote them.
The organization also has "incessantly harassed, threatened, intimidated and embarrassed Ms. Remini's family members, friends, colleagues and business associates, causing her to lose personal relationships, business contracts and other business opportunities," the suit alleges.
"With this lawsuit, I hope to protect my rights as afforded by the constitution of the United States to speak the truth and report the facts about Scientology," Remini said in a prepared statement. "I feel strongly that the banner of religious freedom does not give anyone license to intimidate, harass and abuse those who exercise their First Amendment rights."
Remini released the book "Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology" in 2015, and hosted the A&E documentary series "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath" from 2016-19.