Lawyers for Smallville's Allison Mack are taking an interesting direction when it comes to defending the actress against forced labor charges: Scientology.
According to Deadline (via Yahoo News), Mack's lawyers argued in court papers filed in Brooklyn Federal Court on Friday that the former Chloe Sullivan actress' threat to release what former Nxivm members call "collateral" -- naked photos and disparaging statements made by members against relatives -- does not rise to the legal standard of "serious harm" as required in forced labor cases. The lawyers argue that while the collateral is embarrassing, it's not serious harm under the statute.
And this is where Scientology comes in.
The argument cites a 2009 case in which the Church of Scientology was unsuccessfully sued by a couple also claiming forced labor.
“The court did not find that plaintiffs were compelled to remain in the organization even though, if they chose to leave, they would be ‘excommunicated’ from their friends and family and labeled a ‘dissenter,’” Mack’s lawyers said. “The threat of reputational damage and isolation from loved ones therefore did not qualify as serious harm.”
In addition to the forced labor conspiracy charges, Mack has also been charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy. Arrested this past spring, Mack has been out on $5 million bond and placed under house arrest, though she was granted permission to attend college as well as given extra time outside of her house to run basic errands -- such as grocery shop -- as well.
Last fall, news surfaced that Mack was involved with the group, an organization that has been described by former members as a cult. Then, in April, Mack was officially arrested in connection with the case involving Nxivm leader Raniere who himself had been arrested in Mexico in March. Both Mack and Raniere have pled not guilty to the original charges. Raniere was denied bail in June.
If convicted of the new charges, Mack faces up to 20 years in prison for racketeering conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, and wire fraud conspiracy charges in addition to a maximum of 15 years for identity theft conspiracy charges. This is all in addition to the mandatory minimum 15 years up to life imprisonment Mack faces on the sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy charges.
Mack's trial is set to start January 7th.