On Tuesday, the jury in the retrial of actor Danny Masterson from “That ’70s Show” was set to hear closing arguments, culminating three weeks of testimony in the rape case. Surprisingly, no defense witnesses were called to testify.
Three women have accused Masterson of raping them between 2001 and 2003 at his residence in Los Angeles. This is the second trial for Masterson, as the first trial resulted in a mistrial due to a hung jury in December.
Masterson, aged 47, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted on all three counts, he could face up to 45 years of imprisonment.
The first alleged victim claimed that Masterson “smothered” her and held her at gunpoint. She also mentioned being choked after consuming a drink from him that caused her to drift in and out of consciousness. The second victim stated that Masterson admitted to having sexual intercourse with her while she was unconscious in December 2003. The third victim described being given a drink by Masterson that left her feeling weak and vulnerable.
Sign up for The Daily NY Newsletter
Latest world updates straight in your inbox
During the course of the allegations, Masterson was dropped by both his talent agency and Netflix.
In the current retrial, prosecutors were allowed to explicitly state that Masterson had drugged the women, whereas in the previous trial, this evidence was only presented indirectly, according to the decision of Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo.
The Church of Scientology has played a prominent role in both trials, particularly in the second one. Masterson and all three accusers were members of the church at the time of the alleged rapes. Although the victims have since left the church, Masterson remains affiliated with it.
One of the accusers, former girlfriend Christina Bixler, claimed that the church discouraged her from reporting the rapes to the police. She also alleged that church officials influenced her to downplay the incident in their records. The church’s leadership and Masterson’s publicist both stated that rape cannot occur if the sexual activity happens within a relationship.
In the retrial, a former church leader provided expert testimony regarding Scientology’s stance on involving the police, which contradicted the accounts of all three women who claimed they were discouraged from reporting the incidents. The church denies implementing such a policy.