Danny Masterson sentenced to prison for raping two women

“That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson was convicted 30 On Thursday, he faces life in prison for raping two women at his home in the Hollywood Hills in the early 2000s.

The 47-year-old actor and prominent Scientologist was found guilty on May 31 in two cases of forcible rape and faced a prison sentence of 15 years to life in each case. The jury was unable to reach a verdict in another rape case against a third woman.

Prosecutors had said Scientology officials protected the actor for years after he drugged and sexually abused the women, who were also Scientologists but have since left the church, in three separate incidents between 2001 and 2003. They said that the church had forbidden them from reporting the assaults to the police, and blamed them for the alleged rapes harassed, intimidated and persecuted.

This was the second trial for Masterson charged with the three rapes in June 2020. The first trial concluded with a jury verdict on November 30, 2022 stuck in every way. At that trial, the judge did not allow the prosecution to claim that Masterson drugged the women. That jury heard only that the women – identified as Jane Does 1, 2 and 3 – were “incapacitated” when Masterson allegedly raped them.

Danny Masterson (right) and his wife Bijou Phillips arrive for closing arguments in his second trial May 16 in Los Angeles. A jury found
Danny Masterson (right) and his wife Bijou Phillips arrive for closing arguments in his second trial May 16 in Los Angeles. A jury found “That ’70s Show” star Masterson guilty of two counts of rape on Wednesday, May 31, in a Los Angeles retrial in which the Church of Scientology played a central role.

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File

Masterson pleaded not guilty to the charges and did not testify in his own defense at either trial. In both trials, his defense team rested without calling witnesses.

The church vehemently disputed how prosecutors characterized its faith and politics, accused the victims of using their allegations to make money, and also said the trial violated their First Amendment rights.

In the second trial, prosecutors called a former Scientology official, Claire Headley, as an expert on how church members are instructed to deal with law enforcement and other policies that have been criticized as controlling and abusive.

According to Headley, who sued the church in 2009, Scientologists are not allowed to call the police without “specific authorization” – particularly in a matter involving a fellow Scientologist.

Jane Does 2 and 3 “demonstrated tremendous strength and bravery by turning themselves in to law enforcement and participating directly in two grueling criminal trials,” their attorney said in a statement sent to HuffPost on Thursday. “Despite ongoing harassment, obstruction and intimidation, these brave women have today helped bring a ruthless sex offender to justice and they are not stopping there. They are eager to tell the fuller story soon about how Scientology and its supporters desperately tried to stop them from coming forward.”

The trial also involved controversy over whether the church, which was not an official party in the case, improperly received confidential information. Masteron’s original attorneys, Thomas Mesereau and Sharon Applebaum, were sanctioned in June for allegedly disclosing confidential information about the women with Vicki Podberesky, an attorney who is defending the Church of Scientology in a separate civil lawsuit alleging stalking and harassment brought by the women. They were replaced by attorneys Philip Cohen, Shawn Holley and Karen Goldstein, who have denied passing information to Podberesky.

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