Former That ’70s Show star Danny Masterson, 45, faced rejection Tuesday when his request to have rape charges against him dismissed was denied by Los Angeles Superior Court’s Judge Ronald S Coen.
Coen said that there was still sufficient evidence against Masterson to allow the case to proceed.
In June 2020, he was charged with three counts of felony rape by force or fear. The accusations included raping a 23-year-old woman in 2001, a 28-year-old woman in April 2003, and a 23-year-old-woman between October and December of that same year. All were said to have taken place at Masterson’s home in the Hollywood Hills.
A large part of the trial has been focused on Masterson’s history with the Church of Scientology, as his victims—also members—stated they did not report the attacks due to the churchs’ “expressly written doctrine” that prohibits members from reporting other followers to law enforcement.
One victim detailed that after being raped while unconscious in 2001 by Masterson, a Scientology official demanded she release a statement claiming she would “take responsibility” for the assault, she said.
Another woman said that when planning to report Masterson in 2004 for allegedly raping her in 2003, she and her family were threatened with ex-communication by a Scientology lawyer.
Judge Charlaine Olmedo determined the victims’ delays in coming forward to be reasonable in light of the principles of the Church of Scientology. She said that the women may have hesitated to contact authorities for fear of violating church policies and subsequently facing separation from friends and family.
Sharon Applebaum, one of Masterson’s lawyers, said that two of the women, Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, had consensual sex with the actor. She continued by saying that the alleged rape of the third woman, Jane Doe 3, never took place.
“He did not force anyone to have sex with him,” Applebaum said.
Applebaum also accused the three women of collusion, saying that they consistently kept in contact until their eventual decision to sue him. She also alleged that in 2004, Jane Doe 1 had obtained money from Masterson, and all of the women involved had been inconsistent in their telling of the story.
Thomas Mesereau, one of Masterson’s other lawyers, previously said that he was “absolutely not guilty” and that they were “going to prove it.”
Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller, the prosecutor on the case, found that there was no colluding amongst the alleged victims and the women had done their best to thoroughly describe the events of each case, stating that “they were not rehearsed statements, they were heartfelt.”
Mueller also said that Jane Doe 2 had made it clear to Masterson that upon the night of visiting his home, she did not want to have sex with him.
Jane Doe 3, Masterson’s former girlfriend of six years, said she reported to a church ethics official that she was a victim of rape after an incident of non-consensual sex with him.
The official denied the claims, saying that someone in a relationship could not be raped by their partner, and demanded she did not use the term “rape” again.
Jane Doe 1, a second-generation church member when meeting Masterson, told the judge that she was drifting in and out of consciousness the night of the incident in April 2003 following Masterson giving her a drugged drink.
“I came to and he was on top of me and he was inside of me,” she testified.
After trying to fight Masterson off with a pillow, he took out a pistol from a dresser drawer and waved it at her, she said.
Masterson remains free on a $3.3 million bail but is set to return to court on May 31 for a hearing on pretrial motions.
A rep for Masterson has not yet responded to Los Angeles magazine’s request for comment.
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