The rape allegations aired against ’70s Show’ actor Masterson

LOS ANGELES – A prosecutor on Tuesday described three women’s rape allegations against “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson two decades ago that contained some of the same disturbing elements.

Two women became lightheaded or passed out after a couple of drinks and were thrown into his hot tub, Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller said in his Masterson trial opening statement. One of them said he dragged her into her bed where he regained consciousness to find him while he had sex with her. A third woman, an ex-girlfriend, said she woke up to find him on top of her.

Masterson’s lawyer said the reason the allegations had so much in common is that the alleged victims violated a detective’s warning not to talk to each other and “pollinated” their reports and undermined their credibility. .

“If you talk to each other you will contaminate this case,” they were told, defense attorney Phillip Cohen told the Los Angeles Superior Court. “Talking among themselves and with other witnesses is fatal for a case”.

Masterson, 46, pleaded not guilty to three counts of forced rape between 2001 and 2003 at his Hollywood home, which served as a community center at the height of his fame.

Cohen urged jurors not to consider Masterson’s affiliation with the Church of Scientology and his relationship to the case, while Mueller said this helped explain why women – all former members of the church – have waited this way. long to report accidents.

Two of the alleged victims went to church first to report what had happened to them and were told that it was not rape and that reporting it to the authorities or telling others would end up ostracized by their closest friends and even their loved ones. family members.

“You essentially become an enemy of the church,” Mueller said. “You lose everything.”

Cohen said the case had nothing to do with religion and repeatedly objected when it was raised.

Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo sternly reminded lawyers that Scientology would not dominate the trial.

The list of witnesses from the trial is full of members and former members of the church, which has a strong presence in Los Angeles and has many famous people among its members. The list includes former member Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley and ex-wife of Michael Jackson, a friend of one of the alleged victims.

One of the women had been Masterson’s longtime girlfriend. Another was his personal assistant’s best friend and the third, an actress, was a new acquaintance.

Her assistant’s friend filed a complaint with the police because she was dissatisfied with the way the Scientology ethics committee handled her complaint. No accusations were made at that time.

In 2016, he connected and shared stories with the ex-girlfriend who is one of the accusers. Each filed a police report that year. Masterson’s ex-girlfriend said she did this after she told her story about her to her husband about her, which helped her realize she was raped. The third woman went to the police in 2017.

Cohen said the heart of the defense was a “sizzling coil of inconsistencies” between what the women had initially said and how their accounts have changed over time.

A woman who said she was raped after she passed out from drinking a fruity red vodka drink Masterson gave her told police she had had consensual sex with him several months earlier under similar circumstances. She now she says she didn’t consent. Masterson faces no charges for these allegations.

Another alleged victim went to Masterson’s house after inviting her. She set the ground rules that she wouldn’t have sex with him and told him “no sex” multiple times as the game went on, Mueller said. She described Masterson’s alleged assault as so violent that she vomited in her mouth and was “limping like a rag doll”.

But Cohen said the woman stayed in bed with Masterson for hours talking and listening to music and thought “we’ll probably start dating” after she left. She said she was dismayed when Masterson didn’t call or write to her.

The ex-girlfriend said that after breaking up with Masterson she had consensual sex with him two more times.

If convicted, Masterson could face up to 45 years in prison.

The Associated Press typically does not name people who claim to have been sexually abused unless they come forward publicly.

Masterson was one of the first Hollywood figures to be accused in the #MeToo era. Her is one of many high-profile sexual assault cases that were tried around the fifth anniversary of the allegations against Hollywood tycoon Harvey Weinstein, who turned the #MeToo movement into an international showdown.

Weinstein’s second trial for rape and sexual assault – he’s already been sentenced in New York – is taking place at the same time, just down the hall from Masterson’s. Civil trials have begun in New York for actor Kevin Spacey and screenwriter and director Paul Haggis, both of whom have been reported for sexual assault.

Haggis is himself a Scientology dissident, and the judge in that case allows him to argue that the church is behind the charges against him.

From 1998 to 2006, Masterson starred as Steven Hyde in Fox’s “That ’70s Show”, which played Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace and is getting an upcoming Netflix reboot with “That’ 90s Show”.

Masterson had reunited with Kutcher on the Netflix comedy “The Ranch,” but was canceled from the show when a LAPD investigation was revealed in December 2017.

———

Follow AP Entertainment writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *