New Danny Masterson Rape Trial: What’s Different This Time

Opening arguments began on Monday in a retrial of the rape case against Danny Masterson, the actor best known for his role in the sitcom ‘That ’70s Show,’ nearly five months after the first ended. deadlocked jury trial.

Masterson, 47, who also appeared in the Netflix comedy “The Ranch,” was charged with raping three women at his Hollywood Hills home in the early 2000s. He denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty.

The first trial ended in November when the jury was unable to rule on the three counts of forced rape the actor faced, prompting a judge to have the trial dismissed. If convicted at the retrial, Masterson could face 45 years to life in prison.

The charges in the new trial in Los Angeles Superior Court are the same as in the first trial. But in a potentially significant change, the judge, Charlaine F. Olmedo, allowed prosecutors to tell jurors directly that Masterson drugged his three accusers, the Associated Press reported.

Prosecutors had suggested at the first trial that he might have drugged the women, but did not say so directly, as they presented testimony that the women felt disoriented or confused after Masterson gave them booze .

Masterson’s attorney, Philip Cohen, told jurors in his opening statement this week that “there is no drug charge,” the AP reported.

The case involves accusations by two of the women that the Church of Scientology, to which they and Masterson belonged, discouraged them from reporting the rapes to law enforcement. The church strongly denied exerting pressure on the victims.

The debate over the role of the church figured prominently in the first trial and could play a bigger role in the retrial. Prosecutors have indicated they may call a former church member, Claire Headley, to testify as an expert witness on Scientology practices and policies.

The church said in a statement Wednesday that it “has no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting the criminal conduct of anyone, Scientologist or not, to law enforcement.”

“On the contrary,” the statement said. “Church policy explicitly demands that Scientologists abide by all laws of the land.

According to a brief filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in September, Masterson raped a woman, identified only as Jen B., in April 2003 after she went to his house to retrieve the keys and he gave a red vodka drink. . About 20 or 30 minutes later, she felt “very disoriented,” the brief said.

According to the memoir, Masterson raped her after she regained consciousness on her bed. She reached for his hair to try to pull it out and tried to shove a pillow in his face, he says. When Masterson heard a man screaming in the house, he pulled a gun from his nightstand and told him not to move or “say anything,” adding swear words, the document said.

The trial brief says Masterson raped a second woman, identified only as Christina B., who had a relationship with him and lived with him for six years.

In November 2001, according to the document, she woke up to Masterson “having sex with her” and told him to stop. “I tried to push him away and say, ‘No, I don’t want to sleep with you,'” the document reads. She also pulled his hair and he hit her, he said.

In December 2001, she drank a glass or two of wine at a restaurant with Masterson and woke up naked in her bed the next morning feeling it hurt to sit down or go to the bathroom, the brief says. . She said she came downstairs and confronted Masterson, and he admitted to having sex with her while she was unconscious, the document says.

The memoir states that between October and December 2003, Masterson raped a third woman, identified only as N. Trout, who saw him occasionally at parties and gatherings and, like him, was part of the Celebrity Center branch of Scientology.

According to a supplemental trial brief filed by the district attorney’s office in March, prosecutors said they may call an additional accuser who did not testify in the first trial, whom they identified only as being Kathy J.

She accused Masterson of sexually assaulting her in Toronto in 2000, after meeting him at a casting party for the movie “Dracula,” in which Masterson had a role, according to the supplemental brief.

Prosecutors say Masterson assaulted Kathy J. after giving her a vodka drink that made her feel ‘dizzy’ and then, after guiding her onto a bed, ‘like she couldn’t move’ .

She reported the assault to the Toronto Police Service in October 2021, after her niece told her she had been “covered up” at a bar, which “made Kathy think about what the accused told her. had done,” prosecutors wrote.

Masterson was not charged with assaulting Kathy J. But prosecutors wrote that her testimony and that of another accuser who testified at the first trial bolsters the credibility of the women in the case by showing that Masterson ” committed similar acts” on other women.

Masterson’s attorneys wrote in court documents that Kathy J.’s testimony should be excluded from the retrial because the recent revelation that she may be a witness “prevents Masterson from fully investigating, preparing and defending herself.” against his allegation of 23 years”.

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