Actor Danny Masterson, known for his role in the television series “That ’70s Show,” has been found guilty of two counts of rape in his retrial in Los Angeles. The jury, consisting of seven women and five men, deliberated for seven days over the course of two weeks before reaching a verdict. However, they were unable to reach a verdict on the third count, which alleged that Masterson raped a longtime girlfriend. The vote on this count was 8-4 in favor of conviction.
Masterson’s Possible Sentence
Masterson now faces up to 30 years in prison. After the verdict was delivered, he was led away from the courtroom in handcuffs while his wife, Bijou Phillips, sobbed.
The Trial and Charges
The trial has attracted significant attention, with Masterson being charged in 2020 for allegedly raping three women between 2001 and 2003. This was Masterson’s second trial for the case. The first trial ended in a mistrial in November 2022, with the jury deadlocked on all three counts. A request to dismiss the case was denied, leading to the retrial that concluded with the recent guilty verdict. The retrial lasted approximately three weeks, and Masterson’s defense attorneys chose not to call any witnesses.
The Role of the Church of Scientology
The Church of Scientology, of which Masterson is a member, played a significant role in both trials. The women who accused Masterson claimed that the church influenced how they reported the alleged assaults. In the retrial, the judge allowed a former member of the church’s leadership to testify as an expert on the institution’s policies about reporting to the police. There was also a courtroom controversy regarding a Scientology attorney’s possession of trial evidence. The women testified that the church officials discouraged them from going to the authorities immediately after the incidents, but the church denies having any policies forbidding members from reporting other members to law enforcement.
Prosecution and Defense Arguments
During the closing arguments of the retrial, the prosecution emphasized that Masterson allegedly drugged each of the victims to gain control over them, although there is no forensic proof of drugging. Masterson’s attorney, Philip Cohen, highlighted inconsistencies in the women’s testimonies and argued for reasonable doubt.
Masterson was charged with three counts of rape, with the victims being former members of the Church of Scientology, like Masterson. The allegations include incidents that occurred between 2001 and 2003. In addition to the longtime girlfriend who accused Masterson of rape in 2001, another woman claimed that Masterson raped her in 2003 after taking her upstairs from a hot tub at his Los Angeles home, while a third woman testified that Masterson raped her in 2003 after texting her to come to his house.
Masterson’s Career and Personal Life
Danny Masterson gained fame for his role as Steven Hyde in the sitcom “That ’70s Show,” which aired from 1998 to 2006. He later appeared in “The Ranch” alongside Ashton Kutcher, his former co-star from “That ’70s Show.” Masterson was removed from “The Ranch” following allegations of assault in 2017, and the show concluded in 2018. He is married to Bijou Phillips, and they have a daughter together.
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