The TV series That ’70s Show’s star could spend up to 30 years in prison. He was brought handcuffed out of court.
In his Hollywood residence between 2001 and 2003, the actor was accused of s3xual abuse by three women, all of whom were formerly Scientologists.
Masterson, according to the prosecution, used his notoriety as a famous Scientologist as a shield from responsibility.
After a week of deliberations, the jury of eight women and five men was unable to agree on a decision on a third count, coming to an 8-4 deadlock.
One of his victims, who was raped in 2003, said in a statement quoted by the Associated Press: “I am experiencing a complex array of emotions – relief, exhaustion, strength, sadness – knowing that my abuser, Danny Masterson, will face accountability for his criminal behaviour.”
According to CBS News, Bijou Phillips, an actress and model, wept as Masterson was being brought away. Other relatives and friends sat expressionless.
In December 2022, a different jury in an earlier trial was unable to render a decision.
Attorneys decided to retry Masterson, and this time the judge permitted them to include fresh evidence that had been excluded from the earlier trial.
The actress was not accused of drugging his victims, but the jury heard testimony indicating the women had taken drugs prior to the actor’s rape.
At the height of the #MeToo movement in 2017, Masterson was accused of rape for the first time. In response, he said that he had never been accused of a crime or found guilty, and that given the current political climate, “it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused.”
After a three-year investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, charges were filed. Due to insufficient evidence and the passing of the statute of limitations, prosecutors decided not to press charges in two other cases.
Prosecutors claimed throughout the trial that the Church of Scientology had assisted in covering up the assaults, a claim that the group has vehemently refuted.
The International Church of Scientology asserted that the prosecution’s attacks on the Church during the trial were “an unprecedented violation of the First Amendment” in a statement following the announcement of the decision.
The organization stated on Twitter that “The Church was not a party to this case and religion did not belong in this proceeding.” Inexcusably, the district attorney focused his investigation on the defendant’s faith.
All three of Masterson’s accusers were Scientologists at the time of the assaults. Many of the women claimed it took them years to come forward because Church of Scientology leaders allegedly told them not to call the police about the rape.
Instead, according to the prosecution, they were compelled to use the Church’s “internal justice system”.
Prosecutors claim that authorities from the Church of Scientology threatened one survivor with expulsion unless she consented to a non-disclosure agreement and a payment of $400,000 (£320,000).
Both parties were permitted to debate the beliefs and methods of Scientology by Judge Charlaine Olmedo.
However, during the trial, deputy district attorney Ariel Anson remarked to the jury, “The Church taught his victims, ‘Rape isn’t rape, you caused this, and above all, you are never allowed to go to law enforcement.'”
The Church said that there was “not a scintilla of evidence supporting the scandalous allegations that the Church harassed the accusers” in its statement.
The defence worked to discredit the “Jane Does” throughout the trial by highlighting discrepancies in their testimony and their purported desire for “revenge” on their former Church.
If you’re searching for reasons why individuals aren’t being truthful, there are motives everywhere, the defence attorney for Masterson stated during the final arguments of the case, referring to the survivors.
Despite the fact that the Church of Scientology was not a defendant in the case, a lawyer with connections to the Church sent a complaint email to the district attorney’s office prior to the start of the closing arguments.
The defense asserted that there was no proof of any use of force or violence and that the prosecution had placed undue reliance on testimony alleging drug usage.
Masterson’s attorneys made an unsuccessful attempt to declare a mistrial.