The jury was unable to reach a verdict in another case of rape against a third woman.
It was the second trial for the 47-year-old actor and Scientologist. Prosecutors said Scientology officials protected Masterson for years after he drugged and sexually abused the women. The women, who were also Scientologists, testified that the church prohibited them from reporting the crime to the police.
The jury deliberated for eight days before they announce their verdict. The original trial ended with the jury on November 30, 2022 stuck in every way after lengthy deliberations that had to be restarted when two jurors fell ill with COVID.
Masterson pleaded not guilty to the charges and did not testify in his own defense at either trial.
This second jury, composed of seven women and five men, was the first to hear allegations that Masterson drugged his victims, which Judge Charlaine Olmedo did not allow in the original trial. All that jury heard was that the women were “incapacitated” when Masterson allegedly raped them in various incidents at his home between 2001 and 2003.
“The defendant drugs his victims to gain control. He’s doing this to deprive his victims of their capacity to consent,” Assistant District Attorney Ariel Anson told the jury in their closing arguments May 16. according to The Associated Press.
“You don’t want to have sex? “You don’t have a choice,” Anson said. “The defendant is making this decision for these victims. And he does it over and over again.”
The first victim to testify said that Masterson smothered her with a pillow and threatened her with a gun during an attack in 2003 when she was semi-conscious after drinking from a glass of alcohol he had served her.
Masterson claimed he had consensual sex with the women. Defense attorney Philip Cohen attempted in his closing argument to discredit the women by pointing out inconsistencies in their stories and implying that the prosecution was focusing on Scientology to “detract from.”other problems” with the case, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The judge decided that there is further evidence related to Scientology could be heard in this second trial — and enabled former Scientology official Claire Headley to testify as an expert witness to counter the church’s denials of its policies and principles, which critics have described as controlling and abusive.
The women, who are no longer Scientologists, testified that the church prohibited them from reporting the abuse to the police and blamed them for the alleged rapes harassed, intimidated and persecuted. Headley who sued the church in 2009 after years of rising through the ranks of his Chapter, the Sea Org, testified that it “is policy not to call the police without special permission” – and that it “would be a serious crime under Scientology law” to report a fellow Scientologist to the police without permission.
Church of Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw flatly denied that such policies exist in the church. “The church has no policy prohibiting or preventing members from reporting criminal conduct by anyone, Scientologist or not, to law enforcement,” Pouw said in a statement to HuffPost. She also called the stalking and harassment allegations “an attempted money grab” by the alleged victims, who are also suing Masterson and the Church in a civil lawsuit.
In conclusion, Anson said, “The church has taught its victims, ‘Rape isn’t rape, you caused this, and most importantly, you must never contact law enforcement,'” and called Masterson “untouchable” due to his celebrity. Status in Scientology, the AP reported.
On Thursday, while the jury is deliberating, Leah Remini posted a letter that she claimed the mother of one of the victims was sent to Scientology leader David Miscavige in 2004, and gave graphic details of Masterson’s alleged sexual assaults. The mother concluded by asking if the church had tried to persuade her daughter to “perjure herself so her celebrity can go scouting.” [sic] free” and whether “celebs” are exempt from “justice codes”.
Masterson is best known for his role as Steven Hyde in all eight seasons of That ’70s Show, which aired on Fox from 1998 to 2006. Masterson was the only original member of the cast not appearing on That ’90s Show a Netflix sequel series that debuted in January.