LOS ANGELES (AP) – Jurors in the rape retrial of Danny Masterson ended the first day of deliberations Wednesday without reaching a verdict in the case against the former “That ’70s Show” star.
The jury of seven women and five men got the case in the morning after prosecutors finally finished their rebuttal after a full day of arguments the day before. They deliberated for about three and a half hours before going home, without asking any questions or indicating how the discussion was going. They start again on Thursday morning.
Late last year, a jury was unable to reach a verdict in a case involving rape allegations by three women against Masterson, and Los Angeles Judge Charlene Olmedo declared a mistrial.
Prosecutors said in their closing arguments Tuesday that Masterson drugged the women to attack them, then relied on his position as a prominent member in the Church of Scientology to avoid consequences for decades.
“You don’t want to have sex? You don’t have a choice,” Deputy District Attorney Ariel Anson told the jury. “The defendant makes that choice for these victims. And he does it over and over again.
After closing arguments, Masterson’s attorney Philip Cohen made a motion for a mistrial, one of many he made during the three-week trial, because the prosecution had mentioned drugging, which is not part of the charges. Olmedo rejected the motion, saying that the prosecution was operating within the limits of their pre-trial judgment, which allowed them to claim that the women had been drugged.
Masterson, 47, has pleaded not guilty to raping three women at his home between 2001 and 2003. During the defense’s closing, Cohen told jurors that the women’s accounts were so full of inconsistencies that there was more than enough reasonable doubt for jurors to acquit Masterson. ,
Cohen emphasized the lack of any physical evidence of drugging, which led to Masterson’s arrest 15 years after the alleged rape.
Cohen said, “Miss Anson presented a case as if she was arguing a drugging case.” “Perhaps it is because there is no evidence of force or violence.”
Scientology played a large role during the trial. Masterson is a member, and all three women are former members. Prosecutors said the organization protected them, and helped convince the women that they were not raped and could not go to the authorities to report fellow Scientologists in good standing. The Church denied having any such policy.
If convicted on all three counts, Masterson could face more than 40 years in prison.
This story has been corrected to show that the jury consists of seven women and five men, not seven men and five women.
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