Actor Danny Masterson Of “The 70s Show” Is Accused Of Three Rapes.


In a case where the leading players are all current or former members of the Church of Scientology, Danny Masterson, a former star of the enduring comedy “That ’70s Show,” will soon go up against three women who claim he sexually assaulted two decades ago.

The Trial

The 46-year-old Masterson’s Los Angeles trial could start with opening remarks as early as Tuesday. While the judge has stated her determination to prevent the church from becoming the focal point of the proceedings, it will unavoidably loom big.

In his home, which served as a gathering place for people when he was at the height of his fame, Masterson is accused of raping the women between 2001 and 2003. Masterson has entered a not-guilty plea to the accusations.

A longtime girlfriend of Masterson’s had been one of the ladies. The second was an old friend, while the third was a more recent acquaintance.

As does Masterson now, all three were members of the Church of Scientology. The three accusers, who have since left the organization, claimed they were hesitant to approach authorities because the religion insisted that issues involving fellow members be resolved privately.

At a pretrial hearing, Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo stated, “This is not going to turn into a trial on Scientology.” However, she said she would allow discussion of the delay in the women reporting to the police.

During a preliminary hearing to decide whether Masterson should go to trial last year, witnesses frequently used terminology from the Scientology movement, which attorneys had to ask them to clarify. And the church, which has a considerable presence in Los Angeles and has counted many renowned persons among its followers, is represented by many current and past members on the list of witnesses in the trial. The daughter of Elvis Presley and ex-wife of Michael Jackson, Lisa Marie Presley, is a former participant on the list.

Thomas Mesereau, Masterson’s first legal representative, stressed his client’s ties to Scientology and claimed that the police and prosecutors’ anti-religious bias led to his client’s detention. Leah Remini, an actor and former Scientologist who has written a book and hosted a documentary series, is one of the church’s most vocal critics. The lawyer tried unsuccessfully to subpoena supposed contacts between the accusers and Remini.

Phillip Cohen, the trial’s leading counsel for Masterson, seems to be taking the opposite tack, attempting in a pretrial motion to limit references to the organization, which has received a lot of negative press in recent years due to well-known dissidents like Remini. Several prospective jurors have been disqualified due to their views on the church.

Former Los Angeles County prosecutor turned legal commentator, and podcaster Emily D. Baker remarked, “I think leaving the Church of Scientology out of it is a sensible approach.” I think there is a lot of cynicism; I don’t think the general population has an overly reasonable opinion.

The principal prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller, could also want to exercise caution in this area.

When the government brings someone’s religion into a prosecution, it can feel heavy-handed, according to Baker, who is not engaged in the case. “I believe that a fine line needs to be taken into account. You don’t want to give the jury the impression that you’re going after the church because it’s not on trial.

Three counts of rape by force or terror are the charges against Masterson, and if found guilty, he may spend up to 45 years behind bars.

One of the witnesses at the preliminary hearing from the previous year claimed that Masterson had been with her for five years when she woke up one night in 2001 to find him having raped her.

Another witness, a former acquaintance of Masterson’s who was raised in Scientology, claimed that in 2003, he had led her upstairs from his Los Angeles home’s hot tub and sexually assaulted her there.

The third woman said that Masterson texted her to come to his residence on a night in 2003 and then raped her there. She claimed to have established limits and clarified that there was no sex.

In 2004, one of the women—friends—filed Masterson’s police report, but no charges were brought as a result of her dissatisfaction with the way the Scientology ethics board handled her complaint about him. She got in touch with the lady who claims she was raped while dating Masterson in 2016 and exchanged experiences with her. That year, each would submit a police complaint. Masterson’s ex-girlfriend claimed that she decided after telling her husband about the incident and getting his support to realize that she had been raped. In 2017, the third woman contacted the police.

In their cross-examination of the ladies, Masterson’s then-attorneys claimed that all of the women had retroactively reframed consensual intercourse as rape and asserted that reliable memories of the encounters were impossible due to the women’s young ages.

Sexual Assault Cases

Masterson was one of the first Hollywood celebrities to face charges during the #MeToo era. Around the time of the fifth anniversary of the allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, which elevated the #MeToo movement to a global reckoning, several high-profile sexual assault cases went to trial. One of them is his.

Just down the hall from Masterson’s is Weinstein’s second rape and sexual assault trial; he has already been found guilty in New York. Actor Kevin Spacey and screenwriter and director Paul Haggis, both sued for sexual assault, have opened their civil trials in New York.

As a dissident of Scientology himself, the court, in that case, allows Haggis to claim that the organization is responsible for the accusations against him.

Masterson played Steven Hyde from 1998 to 2006 on Fox’s “That ’70s Show,” which made stars out of Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Topher Grace and will soon have a reboot on Netflix with “That ’90s Show.”

On the Netflix comedy “The Ranch,” Masterson and Kutcher had reconnected, but the project was canceled when an LAPD investigation was made public in December 2017.

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Hussain Indo

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