“That ’70s Show’ Actor Danny Masterson Faces Decades in Prison at Sentencing for 2 Rapes

By | September 7, 2023

“That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson could face a maximum sentence of 30 years to life in prison for the rape of two women in the 2000s. The 47-year-old actor is set to be sentenced by Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo, following a new trial motion that is expected to be rejected. Masterson, a member of the Church of Scientology, allegedly used his status to avoid consequences for decades. The victims, who were also members of the church, claimed they were discouraged from reporting the rapes. Masterson’s conviction marks a significant victory for Los Angeles prosecutors in the #MeToo era. ANDREW DALTON, Associated Press reported

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former “That ’70s Show” star Danny Masterson is facing a potential prison sentence of up to 30 years to life after being found guilty of raping two women two decades ago. The sentencing is scheduled for Thursday, with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo expected to reject a defense motion for a new trial. The victims will also have the opportunity to deliver impact statements during the hearing.

Masterson, 47, was convicted by a jury of seven women and five men on May 31, following seven days of deliberations. The assaults occurred in Masterson’s Hollywood-area home in 2003, during the height of his fame on the popular Fox network sitcom “That ’70s Show.” However, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on a third count, which accused Masterson of raping a longtime girlfriend.

This second trial came after a previous one in December resulted in a mistrial when the jury failed to reach a decision on three counts of forcible rape. Prosecutors argued that Masterson had used his prominence in the Church of Scientology, where all three women were also members at the time, to evade consequences for his actions for many years.

The victims testified that they hesitated to report the rapes to the police due to pressure from the church. When they did report the incidents to Scientology officials, they were allegedly told that they were not raped and were subjected to ethics programs themselves. They were also warned against involving law enforcement in reporting a member of such high standing within the church.

Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller told jurors during the trial that the victims were raped, punished, and retaliated against. He claimed that Scientology had informed them that there would be no justice for their ordeal. The church, however, released a statement after the verdict, asserting that the “testimony and descriptions of Scientology beliefs” during the trial were “uniformly false.” The statement emphasized that the church does not prohibit or discourage its members from reporting criminal conduct to the authorities.

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During the trial, Masterson chose not to testify, and his defense team did not call any witnesses. They argued that the sexual encounters were consensual and attempted to undermine the credibility of the women by highlighting inconsistencies and changes in their stories over time, suggesting possible coordination between them.

According to the victims’ testimonies, Masterson provided them with drinks in 2003, after which they became disoriented or passed out before being violently raped. In the second trial, Judge Olmedo allowed the prosecution and accusers to directly state that Masterson had drugged the women, whereas in the first trial, the women were only able to describe their condition. It is worth noting that Masterson was not charged with any counts of drugging, and there was no toxicology evidence to support this claim. The defense plans to raise this issue in their appeal against Masterson’s conviction.

To protect the identity of the victims, the Associated Press does not typically disclose the names of individuals who have reported being sexually abused.

Masterson rose to fame starring alongside Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Topher Grace in the hit show “That ’70s Show,” which aired from 1998 to 2006. He later reunited with Kutcher on the 2016 Netflix comedy series “The Ranch” but was written off the show when an investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department was revealed in 2017. Masterson’s conviction and upcoming sentencing represent a significant success for Los Angeles prosecutors in the #MeToo era, following the conviction of Harvey Weinstein last year..

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