Retrial of Actor and Prominent Scientologist Danny Masterson Begins

The ”That 70s Show” star is back in court, four months after a mistrial was declared surrounding sexual assault accusations made by now-former members of the church

The selection of a new jury is underway in downtown Los Angeles in Danny Masterson’s upcoming retrial on charges that he forcibly raped three women — fellow Scientologists who say they were attacked in the early 2000s and one accuser who was in a long-term relationship with the actor.

Masterson again found himself at the defense table Monday alongside his attorneys Philip Cohen and Shawn Holley as Judge Charlaine Olmedo explained that she will pick eight alternate jurors for the new trial. Proceedings come four months after the first trial ended with a hung jury — which was leaning toward acquittal — and nearly three years after the actor’s arrest in June 2020.

Masterson is accused of raping a then a 23-year-old woman in 2001, along with two other women, then 23 and 28, in 2003. All of the alleged incidents occurred at his home in the Hollywood Hills, the accusers told the LAPD. Masterson denies all of the charges.

The women have also filed a civil suit against the Church of Scientology saying that they were harassed and intimidated after coming forward about the alleged abuse.

Testimony in Masterson’s first trial included details of how the actor met his accusers in Scientology circles and how the church demanded the women stay silent after they reported being attacked by him to church leaders, who are known to tell members to distrust law enforcement — a claim that the church denies. 

Cohen argued to exclude similar testimony from the accusers as well as that of a Scientology expert who will take the stand to testify on the church’s teaching that a person in an intimate relationship can not be raped, as well as its tactic of instilling fear of becoming a “suppressive person,” a label that would lead to ex-communication from the church.

Olmedo denied that, writing in a ruling: “The admission of Scientology evidence…provides an important context for the victims’ delayed reporting of the crimes, which itself bears on the evaluation of the witnesses’ credibility and the actual occurrence of the crimes,” she wrote. “Thus, Scientology practices and beliefs are relevant to determining whether a defendant committed the alleged crimes.”

In a message to LAMag, the Church of Scientology said: “The Church denies the allegations of harassment as obvious, cynical, and self-serving fictions, and the Church knows it will be vindicated.”

Opening arguments are slated to begin on April 24. Olmedo says she hopes to have a new jury in place Thursday.

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