Danny Masterson’s rape retrial: Key things to know

Streaming HUBApril 21, 2023

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Five months after a deadlocked jury verdict for actor Danny Masterson, the former star of “That ’70s Show” is set to stand trial again in a Los Angeles court. Masterson is accused of raping three women between 2001 and 2003. If convicted, he could face up to 45 years in prison.

The key elements here are the key elements, characters, and issues that will factor into the re-examination. Opening statements are scheduled to begin on Monday.

New Role for Scientology

The Church of Scientology played a major role in Masterson’s trial. It could still loom large in his retrial, with Judge Charlene Olmedo allowing expert testimony on Scientology, which he denied the first time around.

Masterson is a prominent member of the church. All three of his accusers are former members who became disillusioned with the organization after their alleged attacks, saying that the organization and its policies protected Masterson while he himself was harassed and discouraged from going to the authorities. The Church has said that neither is true.

Two opposing experts are ready to testify that the church sometimes becomes divided culturally. The prosecution’s expert, Claire Hadley, a former official in Scientology’s leadership group known as the Sea Org who became a staunch church foe, sued her in 2009 over her experience. The defense’s expert is Hugh Martin Whitt, a current high-level Scientologist who is Headley’s stepfather.


Masterson, 47, an actor since childhood, got his big break when he was cast as Stephen Hyde in the retro sitcom “That ’70s Show,” which also starred Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace and Will run on Fox since 1998. 2006. At the time of the alleged attacks, his career was at its peak, and his home near Hollywood was a social hub with a backyard pool and Jacuzzi. According to prosecutors, it was also the scene of all three crimes. Masterson pleaded not guilty and his attorneys have repeatedly denied all charges.

first accused

One of the women who accused Masterson of rape was born into a Scientology family and was part of Masterson’s circle of friends. Close to him were almost all members, including the late Lisa Marie Presley, who left the church long before her death in January.

In testimony she will now be asked to repeat, the woman said that when she stopped by Masterson’s house in 2003 to pick up a set of keys, he gave her a drink that seemed to have a drug-like effect on her, and raped her in her bedroom upstairs. She first filed a police report in 2004, which did not lead to an arrest. She returned to the authorities in 2016.

second accused

Another woman willing to retell her story is a model and actor who was Masterson’s girlfriend from 1996 to 2002. She joined the church when they started dating. She previously testified that she was living with Masterson in 2001 when he first began sexually abusing her. She said that about a month later she found Masterson raping her. She will go to the police after 15 years.

third accused

The third woman at the center of the trial had recently met Masterson through mutual friends at the church she had attended as a teenager. She testified that in 2003 Masterson had invited her to his home, where they were alone. She said she was clear that she did not want to have sex, but he convinced her to go into his jacuzzi and then took her to his bed, where he raped her. She went to the police in 2017.

The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they were victims of sexual abuse.

other witnesses

Two other women who say Masterson raped them, but whose allegations are not part of the charges against him, are being allowed to take the stand to testify about his propensity for such acts.

Testimony is also planned from those who surrounded Masterson and the women at the time, most current or former members of the church.

The witness list also includes investigating detectives and psychologists who specialize in sexual assault and memory.

investigation and arrest

Police revealed they were investigating Masterson in March of 2017. Hollywood’s #MeToo firestorm would begin about six months later, and in the midst of it Masterson would be writing the Netflix western comedy “The Ranch,” where he reunited with Kutcher.

He was arrested in 2020 on charges of three rapes, and in 2021 a judge ruled that the evidence was strong enough for him.

first test

Masterson’s first month-long trial began last October. Masterson, free on bail, was in court with a large group of friends and family from both Scientology and the entertainment industry, including his wife and the mother of their child, actor and model Bijou Phillips.

All three accused gave emotional and often painful testimony.

Prosecutor Reinhold Müller argued that the evidence clearly pointed to Masterson being a “rapist” who created an environment in his home that allowed him to prey on women, and that the church was clearly further Was guilty of blaming women for coming.

Masterson’s attorney Philip Cohen argued that the women’s testimony was so frustratingly riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies that prosecutors framed Scientology to poke holes in its case.

In the end, less than half of the jurors voted in favor of a conviction on either count. Nevertheless, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office decided to try again with a new set of jurors, and the women again prepared to take the stand.

“Despite years of intimidation and harassment, we are fully committed to participating in the next criminal trial,” the two of them said in a joint statement.


Mueller and Cohen will reprise their roles in the trial. But this time around, Masterson will also have the services of high-profile attorney Shawn Holly, whose clients include Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, Axl Rose and Lindsay Lohan. He had to miss the first trial with prior commitments representing former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer in his own sexual assault proceedings.

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