Actor renowned for his role in That ’70s Show, Danny Masterson convicted for two counts of rape, with the jury reaching a verdict after seven days of deliberation on May 31, 2023 in a highly anticipated retrial.
While they were unable to reach a verdict on a third count, which accused Masterson of raping a longtime girlfriend, the majority of the jury was in favor of conviction. The 47-year-old actor now faces a potential prison sentence of up to 30 years.
As the verdict was delivered, Masterson was led away in handcuffs, leaving his wife, actor and model Bijou Phillips, in tears. The courtroom was filled with a mixture of emotions, with some family and friends maintaining stoic expressions.
So, what happened to Danny Masterson verdict?
Prosecutors, determined to retry Masterson following a mistrial in December, asserted that he forcibly raped three women, including a former girlfriend, between 2001 and 2003 at his Hollywood Hills residence.
They claimed that Masterson drugged their drinks to facilitate the assaults. Allegedly, his prominence within the Church of Scientology, of which the victims were also members at the time, allowed him to evade consequences for his actions over the span of several decades.
Masterson opted not to testify in his defense, and his legal team did not call any witnesses.
They argued that the encounters were consensual and attempted to undermine the credibility of the women by pointing out inconsistencies and changes in their accounts, suggesting possible coordination among them.
Throughout the trials, the Church of Scientology played a significant role. While its involvement was notable in the first trial, it took on an even larger presence in the retrial.
Expert testimony on church policies was allowed from a former Scientology official who has since become a prominent critic. The courtroom became tense as current and former Scientologists clashed, and some of the accusers testified that they felt intimidated by certain members present.
Notably, actress Leah Remini, a former member and vocal critic of the church, attended the Danny Masterson trial, offering support to one of the accusers during the closing arguments.
Her presence highlighted the complexities of the case and the intertwined relationships between Hollywood and Scientology.
Founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1953, the Church of Scientology boasts numerous members within the entertainment industry.
The judge imposed limits on the extent to which prosecutors could discuss the church but allowed some explanation for the delayed reporting of the incidents to authorities.
The women who testified described their ordeals in graphic and emotional detail. Two victims, who were acquainted with Masterson through the church, stated that they became disoriented or unconscious after consuming drinks provided by him.
Ultimately leading to violent rapes in 2003. The third victim, Danny Masterson’s former girlfriend of five years, recounted waking up to find him assaulting her and having to physically resist him.
The retrial shed new light on a crucial aspect of the case against actor Danny Masterson: the issue of drugging. Unlike the initial trial, where descriptions of disorientation merely hinted at possible drugging, the retrial allowed the prosecution to explicitly present evidence of drug use.
However, despite their meticulous efforts, the significance of this factor ultimately failed to alter the final outcome of the trial.
While Masterson was not charged with drugging offenses, and there is no toxicology evidence supporting the assertion, his defense team requested a mistrial due to the inclusion of this issue. The motion was denied, but it may become a focal point in any future appeal.
These charges date back to a period when Masterson achieved fame through his portrayal of Steven Hyde on Fox’s That ’70s Show, a role he held from 1998 to 2006. The show catapulted several actors, including Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Topher Grace.
According to the Guardian, Masterson had a professional reunion with Ashton Kutcher on the 2016 Netflix comedy series, “The Ranch.” However, his involvement on the show came to an end when an LAPD investigation, unveiled in December 2017, prompted his removal from the cast.
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