Crime and Investigation

US Actor Danny Masterson Convicted of Two Counts of Rape

Danny Masterson

Danny Masterson has been found guilty of two out of three counts of rape by a Los Angeles jury

That 70s Show’s star faces up to 30 years in prison. He was handcuffed outside court.

Between 2001 and 2003, three former members of the Church of Scientology accused the actor of sexual assault at his Hollywood home.

In their case, prosecutors argued Masterson avoided accountability by relying on his status as a prominent Scientologist.

After a week of deliberations, the jury of seven women and five men came up deadlocked at 8-4 on a third count.

As quoted by the Associated Press, one of his victims said: “I am experiencing a complex array of emotions – relief, exhaustion, strength, sadness – knowing that Danny Masterson will be held accountable for his crimes.

CBS News reports that Masterson’s wife, actress and model Bijou Phillips, wept as he was led away, while other family members and friends looked on stone-faced.

A jury in an earlier trial failed to reach a verdict in December 2022.

When prosecutors retried Masterson, the judge allowed attorneys to present new evidence that had been barred from the first trial.

Despite not being charged with drugging his victims, the jury heard testimony that the women had been doped before he raped them.

He responded by saying that he had not been charged or convicted of a crime, and that in the climate at the time “it seemed as if you were presumed guilty the moment you were accused”.

In two other cases, prosecutors did not file charges due to insufficient evidence and expiring statutes of limitations.

Prosecutors argued throughout the trial that the Church of Scientology helped cover up the assaults, an allegation the organization categorically denies.

Several of the women said it took them years to come forward because Church of Scientology officials discouraged them from reporting the rape.

Prosecutors said they were forced to use the Church’s internal justice system instead.

According to prosecutors, Scientology officials threatened one survivor with expulsion if she didn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement and accept a payment of $400,000 (£320,000).

Scientology dogma and practices were discussed by Judge Charlaine Olmedo.

At the trial, Deputy District Attorney Ariel Anson told jurors: “The Church taught his victims that rape isn’t rape, you caused it, and you shouldn’t go to law enforcement.”.

By focusing on inconsistencies in the Jane Does’ testimony and their supposed desire for revenge against their former church, the defence undermined the Jane Dos’ credibility.

Masterson’s defence lawyer said in closing arguments: If you’re looking for motives why people aren’t telling the truth…there are motives everywhere.

The Church of Scientology was not a defendant in the case, but a lawyer with ties to the Church emailed the district attorney’s office before closing arguments to complain about how the Church was portrayed.

Due to the lack of evidence of force or violence, the defence also argued that the prosecution had heavily relied on drug testimony.

A mistrial was declared by Masterson’s lawyers, but they failed.

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I'm Shruti Mishra, Editorial Director @Newsblare Media, growing up in the bustling city of New Delhi, I was always fascinated by the power of words. This love for words and storytelling led me to pursue a career in journalism. In this position, I oversee the editorial team and plan out content strategies for our digital news platform. I am constantly seeking new ways to engage readers with thought-provoking and impactful stories.


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