Despite his defense team’s efforts to keep Scientology out of Danny Masterson’s sex abuse trial, the institution has repeatedly made an appearance throughout proceedings. In the two full weeks since the trial began, two Jane Does, both of whom were Scientologists, have testified, and scores of others have given witness statements that mentioned the S-word—both indirectly, and, much to Masterson’s attorneys’ chagrin, outright.
Cedric Bixler-Zavala, the husband of Jane Doe #3 and lead singer of rock band The Mars Volta, testified that he and their family have suffered years of stalking and harassment at the hands of the Church of Scientology, and it continues even now, five years after Doe #3 first came forward about the assaults. Bixler-Zavala has also maintained that the church was behind the deaths of his dogs.
Doe #3 corroborated her husband’s claims and said Scientology was the reason she did not pursue justice in a court of law sooner. When asked why she felt “terrified” to meet with the Los Angeles Police Department in January 2017, her answer was succinct: “Because of Scientology.” Masterson’s attorney, Philip Coen, did not prompt her to say more. When she was later questioned by prosecutor Reinhold Mueller about the civil lawsuit filed by four women against the Church of Scientology, alleging that it has stalked and harassed them, Doe #3 affirmed her husband’s testimony: “It’s related to the terror campaign that this criminal organization has put upon me and my family and the other victims,” she said. “Because it didn’t matter how many police reports, FBI reports, no one would stop them—no one. And they’re doing it to this day.”
A spokesperson for the Church of Scientology told Insider: “The harassment allegations are obvious, cynical, and self-serving fictions. The Church will prevail against those slanderous charges.”
Doe #3, who dated Masterson from 1996 to 2001, alleges that he repeatedly 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.” Her husband testified that she told him about the assaults early on in their relationship: “She seemed angry, embarrassed, and relieved as well, all in one,” he testified.
While on the stand, Doe #3 reportedly hyperventilated when asked to recall her apprehension in coming forward about the alleged abuse. She previously said that she alerted an ethics officer at the Church of Scientology, where she was also a member, during their relationship, but was told that because she and Masterson were a couple, what happened to her was not rape.
Separately, Jane Doe #1, who knew Masterson casually, told the court that she remembered waking up in his bed to him penetrating her. When she tried to fight back, she recalled Masterson putting his hands around her throat and wrists. “He squeezed really, really hard,” she said, adding that she thought she was “going to die.” After that incident, she claimed that she was sent to speak with a Scientology ethics officer and was “forced to make peace” with Masterson and undergo weeks of “ethics programs.”
“My understanding, my entire life, was that you can never be a victim,” Doe #1 testified. “Nothing ever happens to you that you didn’t cause. No matter what condition you find yourself in life, no matter how horrible, you are responsible.” She then described another incident, in which she again woke up to Masterson penetrating her in his bed after he’d given her something to drink during a party at his home. As she struggled to get away, she claims Masterson took a gun from the nearby nightstand, held it up, and told her to “shut the fuck up.”
After the second assault, Doe #1 approached her ethics officer, Julian Swartz, once more. She told the court that she was aware that it was against Scientology policy to report a member to the police, and she risked being declared a “suppressive person.”
“My understanding is I would immediately be guilty of a high crime. A high crime comes with a penalty of expulsion from Scientology,” she testified. “My life would be over. My parents would have to disconnect from me. My daughter couldn’t go to her school… I wouldn’t have anywhere to work or live.”
Despite retribution—and discouragement from other church officials—Doe #1 filed a police report against Masterson for rape. Not long after, Swartz, the ethics officer who had been contacted by the LAPD, called her. When she explained what measures she’d decided to take against Masterson, he allegedly replied, “You’re fucked. You have no idea how fucked you are.”
Further testimony is expected this week. Masterson, as Jezebel recently reported, was charged with three felony charges of forcible rape in 2020, with three women—including a former girlfriend, Jane Doe #3—alleging Masterson sexually assaulted them in the early 2000s. If convicted, Masterson faces 45 years to life in prison.