Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth
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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

Danny Masterson Escapes Rape Conviction—for Now—Due to 'Hopelessly Deadlocked' Jury

The That '70s Show actor and Scientologist, who's accused of violent rape by multiple women, has temporarily evaded charges after a judge declared a mistrial.

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Image for article titled Danny Masterson Escapes Rape Conviction—for Now—Due to 'Hopelessly Deadlocked' Jury
Photo: Paul Archuleta (Getty Images)

After nearly two months at trial, the rape case against That ‘70s Show actor and noted Scientologist Danny Masterson has hit a snag. Masterson, who was charged with three counts of forcible rape in 2020, remains a free man after Judge Charlaine Olmedo declared a mistrial on Wednesday, a little over a week after the jury was reported to be “hopelessly deadlocked.”

“While we are disappointed with the outcome in this trial, we thank the jurors for their service,” the district attorney’s office said via statement. “We also want to give our heartfelt appreciation to the victims for bravely stepping forward and recounting their harrowing experiences.” Deadline reports that a retrial is scheduled for March 27, 2023.

“I am so thankful for the incredible care and commitment that the jurors showed in this case,” Masterson’s lawyer, Philip Cohen, said following the mistrial. “This trial was about nothing other than the credibility of the three accusers and that credibility could only be determined by comparing, contrasting and focusing on the ever evolving statements given by the women. The vote count says it all and it is a true testament to our justice system that the jurors were able to see through all the inflammatory noise and focus solely on what was truly important.”

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Masterson’s accusers, identified in court as Jane Does 1, 2, 3, and 4, all alleged that the actor violently raped them between the late ‘90s and early 2000s in his Hollywood Hills home. While charges stemmed only from the first three accusers’ assaults, Judge Olmedo allowed for a fourth to testify midway through the trial to provide additional support for the others’ stories outside the context of Scientology, given that she—unlike the others—didn’t belong to the controversial organization. Like Masterson’s other accusers, Doe #4 told the court that Masterson raped her while she was intoxicated at his Los Angeles home in 1996.

Previous allegations from all of the Jane Doe testimony assert that Masterson violently sexually assaulted them. Doe #1, who knew Masterson casually, described regaining consciousness in his bed as he was penetrating her. When she attempted to fight back, she says he restrained her, closing his hands around her neck and wrists. “He squeezed really, really hard,” she said, adding that she thought she was “going to die.” She also told the court he threatened her with a gun during a second assault. Doe #2 called Masterson a “predator” and said he raped her after a party in his home. Finally, Doe #3, who dated Masterson from 1996 to 2001, alleged that he repeatedly sexually assaulted her while she was unconscious. “There would be no asking, no loving,” she testified. “A lot of times, it would happen where I would be asleep and I would wake up to him having sex with me. That was normal. It was the only thing I knew.”

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Masterson’s defense team fought diligently to exclude any allusions to the Church of Scientology, which played an inextricable role in the case, considering Masterson and three of his accusers were members of the church. But testimony like that of Jane Doe #3's husband, who alleged the Church has stalked, harassed, and terrorized their family in ways that allegedly included killing their dogs, was presented—and contested—throughout.

“We would first like to thank the jury for its public service,” the second and third Jane Does and the latter’s husband said in a statement. “We are obviously disappointed that, at least for the time being, Daniel Masterson has evaded criminal accountability for his deplorable acts. However, we are collectively resolved to continue our fight for justice, including in civil court, where we have alleged that Mr. Masterson, along with the Church of Scientology, its leader David Miscavige, and others conspired to systematically stalk, harass, and intimidate us when we sought to shed light on Mr. Masterson’s actions. This legal fight is far from over, and it is critical that we reckon with Scientology’s alleged role in covering up reports of abuse and threatening victims.”

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An attorney for the Jane Does pursuing civil charges against the church said her clients “remain hopeful that Mr. Masterson will experience some criminal consequences for his vile conduct.”

Staunch anti-Scientology activist Leah Remini has also weighed in: “Scientology’s well-funded reign of terror will one day come to a close. So please don’t stop fighting against this criminal organization. I know it seems like there is no hope in coming up against a multi-billion dollar Goliath, but the truth will prevail. And they know it. They cannot hide forever. If your efforts meant nothing to Scientology, they wouldn’t work so hard at silencing you.”