Everything to Know About the Danny Masterson Rape Trial

Everything to Know About the Danny Masterson Rape Trial

In September, Los Angeles judge Charlaine F. Olmedo sentenced That ’70s Show actor Danny Masterson to 30 years to life in prison for raping two women. A jury convicted Masterson in May; his accusers said he sexually assaulted them at his Hollywood Hills home after plying them with alcohol in the early aughts.

Sitting in the courtroom for his sentencing hearing, Masterson watched while his accusers recounted the impact their assaults had on their lives. He wore a suit and had no visible reactions to the accusers’ testimonies, according to the Associated Press. Masterson “has not shown an ounce of remorse for the pain he caused,” one of his victims said. “I knew he belonged behind bars for the safety of all the women he came into contact with. I am so sorry, and I’m so upset. I wish I’d reported him sooner to the police.”

While he was convicted on two counts of rape, Masterson has five accusers who allege that the Church of Scientology suppressed them from reporting the former actor, formerly a lifelong member, to the LAPD. While the LAPD launched an investigation into Masterson in 2017, the actor furiously denied the women’s allegations, releasing a lengthy statement through his representative that disparaged the accusers and suggested they had only come forward because they’d been in contact with Leah Remini, who was then working on a television series speaking out against the Church of Scientology.

Two more victims also came forward with rape allegations that year, prompting Masterson’s agency to drop him and Netflix to fire him from The Ranch. Three of the accusers who testified in the L.A. trial filed a lawsuit against the actor and the Church of Scientology in 2019, alleging that they were stalked after their police reports. Masterson’s defense team unsuccessfully tried to block testimony about the church from the trial, arguing it would bias the jury; a judge ruled that the women could testify to their feelings that the church had suppressed them. For his part, Masterson pleaded not guilty toall three counts of forcible rape. The judge declared a mistrial after jurors deadlocked in that first trial, per the Los Angeles Times. The recent retrial focused on the same allegations, but this time around, prosecutors also argued that Masterson had drugged his accusers before assaulting them.

Ahead of Masterson’s sentencing, more than 50 people wrote letters to Olmedo supporting the disgraced actor, including his That ’70s Show co-stars Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher. Kunis “wholeheartedly” vouched for Masterson’s “exceptional character” in her letter, while Kutcher praised him as a “role model” and a “positive influence,” adding: “Over [our] 25-year relationship, I don’t recall him ever lying to me.” These statements did not sway Olmedo, who during the hearing said, “Mr. Masterson, you are not the victim here. Your actions 20 years ago took away another person’s voice and choice. One way or another you, will have to come to terms with your prior actions and their consequences.” Remini publicly showed support for Masterson’s victims after the sentence was handed down, expressing relief that “this dangerous rapist will be off the streets and unable to violently assault and rape women with the help of Scientology.”

Now, it appears that even the Church wants to wash Masterson off its hands, reportedly expelling him and branding him a “suppressive person” — the same label some of the actor’s victims allegedly received after they reported their assaults. Below, everything to know about the case.

An accuser identified as Jane Doe No. 1 said she felt like she was “going to die” when Masterson raped her.

Masterson’s first accuser (who, despite being named in trial briefs, testified as Jane Doe No. 1) told jurors Masterson anally raped her during their first sexual encounter in 2002. She recalled confiding in a Church of Scientology ethics officer afterwards, who she said forced her “to make peace” with what happened and made her complete “ethics programs,” where she says she was taught she was responsible for the alleged crime: “My understanding, my entire life, was that you can never be a victim … No matter what condition you find yourself in life, no matter how horrible, you are responsible. You created that.”

Jane Doe No. 1 also testified that Masterson raped her at his house in 2003, allegedly giving her something to drink before throwing her into the Jacuzzi, where she said she felt nauseous and experienced trouble seeing. Per her account, Masterson ignored her protests and carried her to his upstairs bathroom, where she says he put his finger down her throat to make her vomit before dragging her into the shower and soaping her breasts without her consent. Jane Doe No. 1 said she punched Masterson, who took her to his bed. There, she said, she passed out and woke up to the actor penetrating her. After a struggle, she said the actor pulled a gun from his nightstand drawer and ordered her to “shut the fuck up” as he held it up.

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Jane Doe said she reported the incident to her Scientology ethics officer, understanding that reporting a Scientologist in good standing, like Masterson, would make her a “suppressive person” and “guilty of a high crime.” “My life would be over,” she told jurors, explaining that she feared expulsion. “My parents would have to disconnect from me. My daughter couldn’t go to school … I wouldn’t have anywhere to work or live. I wouldn’t have anywhere to go.” She said she later wrote to the church’s international justice chief and asked for permission to report Masterson, but was deterred. She reported the rape anyway in 2004, at which point she said she received a call from the chief telling her, “You have no idea how fucked you are.” The LAPD did not pursue charges at the time, a decision Jane Doe No. 1 said left her feeling “scared.” She signed an NDA and accepted a $400,000 settlement from Masterson, citing pressure from the actor and the church.

During cross-examination, Masterson’s legal team attempted to poke holes at apparent discrepancies between Jane Doe’s 2004 police report and her current testimony; in response, Jane Doe No. 1 said she didn’t remember some of her initial interviews. Pressed about the settlement amount, she told the defense she “did not name a dollar amount” before settling, and described her decision to sue Masterson and the church in 2019 as a way to “sue for peace,” adding, “It’s the only way for them to stop” their alleged harassment. Jane Doe No. 1 also told jurors she fears retaliation from the church against her and her three children for testifying at Masterson’s trial.

Christina B., Masterson’s former girlfriend, told the court Masterson was both physically and emotionally abusive, recalling a night she allegedly woke up to him raping her.

Christina B. testified that she screamed at Masterson to “get off me” when she woke up to him raping her in 2001. She told jurors she met the actor in 1996, when she was an 18-year-old model who had just moved to L.A. “I believed he was very charming and I fell for him,” she said, adding that she moved in with Masterson within two weeks of their first date and that he soon convinced her to convert to Scientology. She said she was told those closest to her were “suppressive people” and “disconnected” from them, socializing with fellow Scientologists instead.

A year into her relationship with Masterson, Christina B. claimed he became “sexually aggressive” and physically and emotionally abusive, explaining it was “normal” to wake up to him having sex with her and alleging that the actor once dragged her across the floor by her hair when she refused to have sex with him. Telling jurors Masterson had “rules” about touching his hair and face, she described purposefully pulling on his hair the night of the alleged rape in 2001 to get him to stop, and said Masterson hit her in the face in response. “I felt shocked … I started screaming,” Christina B. recalled, adding that the actor then got off the bed, “spit on me and called me white trash.”

Speaking about the “terror campaign” the Church of Scientology allegedly subjected her to after coming forward with her accusations, Variety reported that Christina B. appeared panicked on the stand, at one point saying, “I can’t breathe.” She testified that she went to the church — which she called a “criminal organization” in her testimony — after the alleged 2001 rape, but that a church official told her it wasn’t possible to rape one’s girlfriend and that it was her job to give Masterson “sex whenever he wanted.” She also alleged her ethics officer told her “no crime was committed” and that, like Jane Doe No. 1, she was put into an “ethics program.” She eventually reported Masterson to the LAPD in 2016, and says she has been treated as a “suppressive person” since, with the church allegedly stalking her, threatening her, and attempting to run her off the road: “What my husband and my babies have been through the last six years, I would not have survived it in [2001],” she told jurors.

Masterson’s defense team again tried to point out inconsistencies between Christina B.’s police interviews and the testimony she relayed at her preliminary hearing last year, to which Christina responded she had “never been interviewed by a detective before” and was “terrified,” adding that she had always answered “questions honestly.” Meanwhile, a spokeswoman from the Church of Scientology told Variety Christina B.’s allegations are “categorically untrue.”

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Jane Doe No. 2 testified that she was “pleading” for Masterson not to rape her.

A woman identified in court as Jane Doe No. 2 testified that Masterson violently raped her despite her pleas for him to stop, adding that she felt like a “rag doll” afterward. The woman said Masterson invited her to his house in 2003; describing a similar scenario as Jane Doe No. 1, she explained the actor gave her a glass of wine and commanded her “like a drill sergeant” to go into the Jacuzzi, where she felt “heavy” and “numb” as Masterson began kissing her. “I did not want any of what was happening,” she said, explaining that she repeatedly told Masterson, “We cannot have sex, Danny.” Masterson allegedly ordered her to get into the shower and penetrated her without her consent before demanding she go to the bedroom, where she said she was “pleading” for him not to have sex with her. Jane Doe No. 2 said Masterson agreed but later changed course, flipping her over and “pounding me from behind” so forcefully that she said she had to fight the urge to vomit onto his bed. “He was raping me,” she told jurors, describing that the “physical pain” made her feel like she wasn’t in charge of her faculties. “I was shocked and I was like, Oh my God, what are you doing? I told you not to do that.”

Jane Doe No. 2 — a Scientologist at the time of the alleged rape — said Masterson was “more important” than her in the church, prompting her to “recontextualize” what had happened because she feared the consequences of reporting it to the church, which she said had discouraged her from reporting a previous rape by an ex-boyfriend. “I was gaslighting myself,” she said, comparing Masterson to a “predator” and stating that she understood it was a rape when she finally left the church. “As an adult woman, you have plenty of time to see these distinctions between someone having affinity for you and someone targeting you as a piece of meat.” Though Jane Doe No. 2 reported the incident to the LAPD 13 years later, she said there was something “shady” about the way the investigation stalled. She also said she has faced harassment and intimidation since filing her police report and had experienced panic and anxiety attacks as a result.

Tricia V. said Masterson raped her without a condom and told her “diseases are in the mind.”

Per Variety, a fourth accuser, identified as Tricia V. — a non-Scientologist whom Masterson’s defense team tried and failed to exclude from testifying — told the court she fell asleep on Masterson’s floor in 1996 and woke up to him raping her. Called by the prosecution to establish a pattern of Masterson’s misconduct, Tricia told jurors she had worked on a film with Masterson at the time and went to his house for a wrap party; because she smoked marijuana and had a few drinks, she and other guests decided to stay at Masterson’s home. Tricia testified that Masterson brought her to his bedroom, where she said she eventually woke up to him penetrating her, at which point she became disoriented and lost consciousness before waking up naked in Masterson’s bed. “He was just smiling at me,” she told jurors. “That was sort of confusing to me … as if we were on a date or something sweet.” Tricia also alleged Masterson attempted to rape her a second time a month later, describing how he came to her house and offered her a flask to drink before the two went into Tricia’s bedroom, where she said she began feeling intoxicated and recalled Masterson trying to take her pants off. She said she told him she didn’t want to have sex and that he laughed and “continued” on. “I was telling him to stop, but I was also telling him that he didn’t have a condom on … I remember him saying diseases are in the mind.”

Following the accusers’ testimonies, Masterson told the judge he had decided not to testify and his defense team made a motion to dismiss the case, which was denied. The judge ultimately declared a mistrial last December. “We are not even closes to coming to a unanimous decision on any count and are convinced this will not change,” jurors said in a note to the judge at the time, per Variety.

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A retrial ended in a guilty conviction on two out of three counts of rape.

Masterson’s retrial began in late April of this year and lasted more than a month. Jurors deliberated for over a week before finding the actor guilty on two counts of rape by force or fear, the the New York Times reports, though the jury deadlocked on a third rape charge. While the prospect of drugging was only alluded to in the initial trial — Masterson’s accusers testified to feeling disoriented after he gave them alcoholic beverages — the judge presiding over the retrial allowed prosecutors to explicitly tell jurors that Masterson had drugged the women. In April, the Church of Scientology released a statement distancing itself from the women’s allegations, insisting it “has no policy prohibiting or discouraging” members from reporting criminal conduct of members.The Los Angeles Times reports that Masterson “remained calm and even chatty” during jury deliberations in his retrial and that he did not appear to react to his guilty verdict, while his wife, the actor Bijou Phillips, sobbed as he was led away in handcuffs.

Masterson’s accusers have also responded to the mixed verdict. In a statement, one woman noted she is “experiencing a complex array of emotions — relief, exhaustion, strength, sadness — knowing that my abuser, Danny Masterson, will face accountability for his criminal behavior.” Christina B., meanwhile, says she is “devastated” that the jury deadlocked on her rape charge against Masterson but that she remains “determined to secure justice, including in civil court, where I, along with my co-plaintiffs, will shine a light on how Scientology and other conspirators enabled and sought to cover up Masterson’s monstrous behavior.”

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis sparked criticism with character statements supporting Masterson.

Ahead of the actor’s sentencing hearing, over 50 people submitted character statements to Judge Olmedo, asking for leniency in determining Masterson’s sentence. According to Variety, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, Masterson’s co-stars on That ’70s Show, were two of his supporters. (Kutcher also worked with him on Netflix’s The Ranch.) Describing Masterson as an “outstanding older-brother figure,” Kunis said she could “wholeheartedly vouch” for his “exceptional character.” Kutcher, meanwhile, credited Masterson for corralling him away from drugs and called him a “role model.”

“While I’m aware that the judgment has been cast as guilty on two counts of rape by force and the victims have a great desire for justice, I hope that my testament to his character is taken into consideration in sentencing,” Kutcher said. “I do not believe he is an ongoing harm to society.”

Their arguments did not win over Olmedo, nor did they convince the public: Within days, Kunis and Kutcher posted a video apology to Instagram, saying they did not mean to “question the legitimacy” of Masterson’s verdict, nor “undermine the testimony of the victims.” Kutcher said that the couple “would never want to do that,” and they were “sorry if that has taken place.” But that statement did not manage to quell the backlash, and the pair subsequently stepped down from the board of Thorn, an anti-sex-trafficking organization Kutcher founded with his ex, Demi Moore.

After his sentencing, Masterson’s wife filed for divorce, and the Church of Scientology reportedly expelled him.

Bijou Phillips stood by her husband’s side throughout the proceedings, walking into court with him most mornings. Though a source supposedly close to her initially told People Phillips had “no plans” to divorce Masterson, her filing followed 12 days after he received his sentence. In a statement, her attorney, Peter Lauzon, said her “priority remains” with the couple’s daughter, adding that the trials and overall case had “been unimaginably hard on the marriage and the family.” Phillips cited “irreconcilable differences” as her reason for wanting a divorce, requesting spousal support and full custody of their child, with visitation rights for Masterson. He has reportedly agreed to the arrangement.

A few weeks later, Scientology Money Church Project reported that the Church of Scientology has also moved to part ways with Masterson, apparently issuing a “Writ of Expulsion” on the disgraced actor. It has also labeled him a “suppressive person,” a designation that would require all of his Scientologist connections, including friends and family, to cut ties with him. Regardless of the expulsion, however, supposed insiders tell the Daily Mail that the church still maintains Masterson’s innocence.

This post has been updated.

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