Fri. Sep 29th, 2023

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “That ’70s Present” star Danny Masterson might get as a lot as 30 years to life in jail at his sentencing Thursday for the rapes of two ladies 20 years in the past.

Los Angeles Superior Court docket Decide Charlaine F. Olmedo is about to condemn the 47-year-old actor after ruling on a protection movement for a brand new trial that she’s very more likely to reject, and after listening to influence statements from the victims.

A jury of seven ladies and 5 males discovered Masterson responsible of two counts on Could 31 after seven days of deliberations. Each assaults passed off in Masterson’s Hollywood-area house in 2003, when he was on the top of his fame on the Fox community sitcom “That ’70s Present.”

The jury couldn’t attain a unanimous verdict on a 3rd depend, an allegation that Masterson additionally raped a longtime girlfriend.

The decision got here in a second trial after a jury failed to succeed in verdicts on three counts of forcible rape in December and a mistrial was declared.

Prosecutors alleged that Masterson used his prominence within the Church of Scientology — the place all three ladies have been additionally members on the time — to keep away from penalties for many years after the assaults.

The ladies blamed the church for his or her hesitancy in going to police about Masterson. They testified that once they reported him to Scientology officers, they have been instructed they weren’t raped, have been put by ethics applications themselves, and have been warned in opposition to going to regulation enforcement to report a member of such excessive standing.

“They have been raped, they have been punished for it, and so they have been retaliated in opposition to,” Deputy District Lawyer Reinhold Mueller instructed jurors on the trial. “Scientology instructed them there’s no justice for them.”

The church stated in a press release after the decision that the “testimony and descriptions of Scientology beliefs” throughout the trial have been “uniformly false.”

“The Church has no coverage prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting legal conduct of anybody — Scientologists or not — to regulation enforcement,” the assertion stated.

Masterson didn’t testify, and his legal professionals referred to as no witnesses. The protection argued that the acts have been consensual, and tried to discredit the ladies’s tales by highlighting modifications and inconsistencies over time, which they stated confirmed indicators of coordination between them.

The ladies whose testimony led to Masterson’s conviction stated that in 2003, he gave them drinks and that they then grew to become woozy or handed out earlier than he violently raped them.

Olmedo allowed prosecutors and accusers to say instantly within the second trial that Masterson drugged the ladies, whereas solely permitting the ladies to explain their situation within the first.

Masterson was not charged with any counts of drugging, and there was no toxicology proof to again up the assertion. The problem may very well be a think about a deliberate enchantment from the protection of Masterson’s conviction.

The Related Press doesn’t sometimes title individuals who say they’ve been sexually abused.

Masterson starred with Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace in “That ’70s Present” from 1998 till 2006.

He had reunited with Kutcher on the 2016 Netflix comedy “The Ranch,” however was written off the present when an LAPD investigation was revealed the next 12 months.

Whereas that investigation started earlier than a wave of girls shook Hollywood with tales about Harvey Weinstein in October 2017, the conviction and sentencing of Masterson nonetheless represents a significant #MeToo period success for Los Angeles prosecutors, together with the conviction of Weinstein himself final 12 months.

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