Danny Masterson Faces Possible 30-Year to Life Sentence for Rape
Actor Danny Masterson, known for his role in ‘That ’70s Show,’ is potentially facing a sentence of up to 30 years to life in prison as he awaits sentencing today for the rapes of two women that occurred over two decades ago. The sentencing will be carried out by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo.
Guilty Verdicts and Pending Sentencing
Masterson was found guilty by a jury consisting of seven women and five men on May 31, following seven days of deliberations. The charges stemmed from two counts of rape that occurred in 2003 at Masterson’s Hollywood-area residence when he was at the height of his fame on the Fox network sitcom ‘That ’70s Show.’ However, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on a third count, which alleged that Masterson had also raped a long-term girlfriend. This verdict followed a second trial after the initial jury failed to reach a decision on three counts of forcible rape in December, resulting in a mistrial.
Accusations of Using Scientology Ties to Evade Consequences
Prosecutors argued that Masterson used his prominent position within the Church of Scientology, of which all three women were members at the time, to evade consequences for the attacks for decades. The victims testified that when they reported the incidents to Scientology officials, they were discouraged from involving law enforcement. Instead, they were informed that they had not been raped, subjected to Scientology ethics programs themselves, and cautioned against reporting a high-ranking church member.
The Church’s Response and Defense
The Church of Scientology issued a statement after the verdict, asserting that the “testimony and descriptions of Scientology beliefs” during the trial were “uniformly false.” The church denied any policy discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct to law enforcement, irrespective of whether they were Scientologists.
Masterson chose not to testify in his defense, and his legal team did not call any witnesses. The defense’s argument centered on claims of consensual acts and aimed to discredit the women’s testimonies by highlighting changes and inconsistencies over time, suggesting coordination between the accusers.
The Accusers’ Accounts and the Role of Intoxication
According to the women whose testimonies led to Masterson’s conviction, in 2003, he provided them with drinks that caused them to become woozy or pass out before they were sexually assaulted. In the second trial, Olmedo allowed prosecutors and accusers to assert that Masterson had drugged the women, a detail not included in the first trial. There was no toxicology evidence to substantiate this claim, which may become a focal point in the defense’s planned appeal of Masterson’s conviction.
Masterson’s case represents a significant outcome of the #MeToo era in Hollywood. It parallels the conviction of Harvey Weinstein and underscores the continued pursuit of justice for victims of sexual assault within the entertainment industry. Danny Masterson, who had worked alongside actors like Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, has seen his career take a significant turn due to these allegations and convictions.