Danny Masterson, an American actor, was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison after a jury found him guilty earlier this year of raping two women 20 years ago.
Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo of the Los Angeles Superior Court handed down the sentence after hearing from the ladies, who outlined the long-term impact of Masterson’s acts on their lives.
“The body is a relentless witness,” one of the accusers, N. Trout, stated in a statement read aloud in court on Thursday. “When you raped me, you stole from me,” she declared. “That is what rape is, the theft of the spirit.”
The Los Angeles district attorney, George Gascón, said he hoped the women’s bravery would serve as an example to others. “Justice was finally served today,” he stated, adding that “Los Angeles will no longer be a hunting ground for Hollywood elite who feel entitled to prey on women.”
Outside the courthouse, Masterson’s lawyer, Shawn Holley, told reporters that she was “very disappointed” with the sentence, stressing that a team of lawyers had analyzed the case and discovered “a number of significant evidentiary and constitutional issues” that they planned to raise in appeals.
“While we have great respect for the jury and our legal system, they can make mistakes, which is what happened here,”
Masterson, 47, as Steven Hyde on “That ’70s Show” from 1998 to 2006, and he also appeared in the television sitcom “Men at Work” from 2012 to 2014. He most recently acted in the Netflix comedy “The Ranch,” but was sacked in 2017 after the rape claims surfaced.
Masterson was convicted in May of raping two women at his Hollywood Hills home in the early 2000s. The jury couldn’t agree on whether the actor raped a third woman.
The divided decision came after a jury in November deadlocked on all three charges, resulting in a mistrial.
This spring’s retrial lasted more than a month before Masterson was convicted guilty of two counts of rape by force or coercion.
The legal case against Masterson began unfolding in 2020, when he was charged with three counts. He pleaded not guilty.
The case was closely watched not only because it involved a Hollywood star on trial in the #MeToo era but also because two of the women had accused the Church of Scientology, to which they also belonged, of discouraging them from reporting the rapes to the authorities. The church denied that it pressured the victims.
One accuser, who was identified as Christina B. and who said Masterson raped her in 2001 when they were in a relationship, reported the rape to the church’s “ethics officer,” according to court documents. That officer told her, according to the documents, “You can’t rape someone that you’re in a relationship with” and “Don’t say that word again.” In May, the jury deadlocked on the charge related to her accusation.
Court documents also said that Masterson had raped another woman, identified as Jen B., in April 2003 after he gave her a drink. Jen B., who sought the church’s permission to report the rape, later received a written response from the church’s international chief justice that cited a 1965 policy letter, which for her raised concerns she could be ousted from her family and friends if she reported a fellow Scientologist to the police. Still, she reported the rape in 2004.
The third accuser, who was identified as N. Trout and who was raped in 2003, did not tell the church but shared it with her mother and best friend. “If you have a legal situation with another member of the church, you may not handle it externally from the church, and it’s very explicit,” she said, according to court documents. She added that she “felt sufficiently intimidated by the repercussions.”
The church has maintained that it is not a party to the case, and should not be implicated. “There is not a scintilla of evidence supporting the scandalous allegations that the Church harassed the accusers,” it said in a statement following the sentencing.
But Alison Anderson, a lawyer for two of the accusers, said that her clients planned to continue holding the church accountable for attempting to silence them.
“Despite persistent harassment, obstruction, and intimidation, these courageous women helped hold a ruthless sexual predator accountable today,” Anderson said. “They are eager to soon tell the fuller story of how Scientology and its enablers tried desperately to keep them from coming forward.”
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