That '70s Show Star Is Back on Trial for Rape

Prosecutor says Danny Masterson drugged and raped 3 women
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 25, 2023 2:30 AM CDT
Danny Masterson's Rape Trial Begins, Again
Actor Danny Masterson leaves Los Angeles superior Court with his wife Bijou Phillips after a judge declared a mistrial in his rape case in Los Angeles on Nov. 30, 2022.   (AP Photo/Brian Melley, File)

Actor Danny Masterson drugged then raped three women at his Hollywood-area home between 2001 and 2003, a prosecutor told jurors Monday in his opening statement in the retrial of the star of That ’70s Show. Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller said Masterson put substances into drinks that he gave to a longtime girlfriend and two women he knew through friend circles around the Church of Scientology, all of whom Masterson is charged with raping, the AP reports. “The evidence will show that they were drugged," Mueller told the jury. The defense denies such evidence exists.

Direct discussion of drugging was missing from the first trial—which ended in a mistrial when a jury deadlocked on all three counts—with Mueller instead having to imply it through the testimony of the women, who said they were woozy, disoriented, and at times unconscious on the nights they described the actor raping them. But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo is allowing the direct assertion at the second trial. Masterson's attorney, Philip Cohen, said in the defense opening statement that those hazy stories and assertions are all the prosecution has, and he told jurors, “there is no drugging charge in this case.”

Attorneys for both sides acknowledged that there is no forensic evidence of any substances Masterson may have given the women because the police investigation that led to the two trials did not begin until about 15 years after the events. Mueller told jurors that the women did not immediately go to authorities because they were told not to by officials in the Church of Scientology, and they were told what happened to them was not rape. Masterson is a prominent member of the church. All three women are former members. Masterson, 47, could get 45 years in prison if convicted.

(More Danny Masterson stories.)

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