Andrew Dalton (AP Entertainment Writer)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — That ’70s Show star Danny Masterson was handcuffed out of a Los Angeles courtroom on Wednesday after a jury found him guilty of two of his three rape charges at trial. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to 30 years in prison. The Church of Scientology played a central role in the second trial.
Mr. Masterson’s wife, actor and model Bijou Phillips, gasped as the verdict was read and cried as Mr. Masterson was taken into custody, but sat silently behind Mr. Masterson throughout both trials. There were family and friends who were
A jury of seven women and five men reached a verdict after seven days of deliberation over two weeks. A third count in which Mr. Masterson allegedly raped her longtime girlfriend was not decided. They upheld the conviction by a vote of 8 to 4.
Masterson, 47, will be held without bail pending sentencing. A ruling date has not yet been set, but a judge has directed Mr. Masterson and his attorneys to return to court on August 4 for a hearing.
“Knowing that Danny Masterson, who abused me, will be held accountable for his criminal actions, is a mixed feeling of relief, fatigue, strength and sadness,” Masterson said as a church member. One woman I knew said, She was then convicted of raping in her home in 2003, she said in her statement.
Another woman whose ex-girlfriend was counted while the jury was stuck said in a statement: ”
A spokeswoman for Mr. Masterson declined to comment, but his lawyers will almost certainly appeal.
After a jury deadlock in December resulted in a miscarriage of justice, prosecutors retrialed Masterson, accusing him of forcibly raping three women in his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003. claimed. Masterson told jurors that he had drugged the woman’s drink and raped her. They said he used his prominence in the church, where all three women were also members at the time, to avoid decades of consequences.
“I want to thank the three women who came forward and bravely shared their experiences,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement Wednesday after the verdict. “Their courage and strength inspired us all.”
Mr. Masterson did not testify and his attorney did not call witnesses. The defense argued that these acts were consensual and sought to undermine the credibility of the women’s stories by highlighting changes and discrepancies over time. said it showed signs of coordination between
Attorney Philip Cohen told the jury, following instructions in closing arguments, “If you find that the witnesses in this case deliberately lied about something, what did the witnesses say?” We should consider not believing it,” he said.
The Church of Scientology played a key role in the first trial, and perhaps even more so in the second. Judge Charlaine F. Olmed authorized expert testimony on Church policy by a former official in the Scientology leadership who became a prominent opponent.
Tensions escalated between current and former Scientologists in court, and accusers on the witness stand at times said they felt intimidated by some of the members present.
Actor Leah Remini, a former member who has become the church’s most high-profile critic, occasionally attended the trial, putting her arm around one of the accusers to comfort them during closing arguments.
On Twitter, Remini said she was “relieved” by the two convictions in the retrials. The women who survived Danny Masterson’s looting are heroes. For years, they and their families have faced vicious attacks and harassment from Scientology and Danny’s well-funded legal team,” she posted. “Nevertheless, they continued to fight, determined to seek justice.”
The harassment allegations, which the church denies, are the subject of a civil lawsuit filed by two of the accusers.
Founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1953, the Church of Scientology has many members active in Hollywood. The judge limited the extent to which prosecutors could talk about the church and largely allowed the women to explain why it took them so long to reach authorities.
When the women reported Masterson to church officials, they were told they weren’t raped, put themselves through an ethics program, and discouraged going to law enforcement to report such high-ranking members. He testified that he had been warned.
Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Muller told jurors in closing arguments that “they were raped, punished and retaliated for.” “Scientology told them there was no justice. You have an opportunity to show them there is justice.”
The church vehemently denied having a policy barring members from going to secular authorities.
Next week, the judge who oversaw the criminal case is scheduled to hold a hearing to determine how lawyers representing the Church of Scientology held evidence that the prosecution shared with the defense. The evidence included a link that the attorney had mistakenly included in an email to Mueller.
The Associated Press typically does not release the names of people who claim to have been sexually abused.
The testimony of this case was raw and emotional.
The two women whose testimony led to Mr. Masterson’s conviction said they were violent in 2003 after Mr. Masterson gave them a drink and then they became irritated and passed out. said she was raped. He knew both in church circles.
The third, Mr. Masterson’s then-five-year girlfriend, whose jury counted at a standstill, woke up to find Mr. Masterson raping her and cut her hair to stop it. He said he had to pull over.
The issue of drug use also played a large role in the retrial. Olmedo initially only allowed prosecutors and the accuser to describe his disorientation and hint that he had been drugged. A direct counter-argument was granted the second time, and prosecutors tried to make it a major factor, but to no avail.
Deputy District Attorney Ariel Anson said in closing arguments that “the defendant drugged the victim to gain control.” “He’s doing this to deprive the victim of their ability to consent.”
Masterson has not been charged with drug use and there is no toxicology evidence to support his claims. His attorney sought miscarriage of justice, including on this issue. The motion was denied, but the issue is likely to be a major factor in potential appeals.
These charges were based on Masterson’s rise to fame when he starred as Stephen Hyde on the Fox show That ’70s Show, which starred Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Topher Grace from 1998 to 2006. It goes back to the time when it reached the peak of
Masterson reunited with Kutcher in the 2016 Netflix comedy The Lunch, but was dropped from the show in December 2017 after an investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department came to light.
https://www.mcall.com/2023/05/31/danny-masterson-convicted-of-2-counts-of-rape-that-70s-show-actor-faces-30-years-to-life/ Danny Masterson Convicted of Two Rape Counts, ’70s Show’ Actor Has 30 Years to Live – Morning Call