Danny Masterson Rape Case; The Prosecution Emphasised Scientology’s Role In Sexually Assaulting Two Women
At That ’70s Show star Danny Masterson‘s trial on Tuesday, the Church of Scientology was highlighted as the prosecution outlined how the women who claimed they were sexually assaulted by the That ’70s Show actor feared being shunned by the organization if they came forward with the claims to friends and family who also belonged to it.
In his opening address, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller detailed the alleged uncharged sexual assaults that Masterson, a well-known Scientologist3, committed in the early 2000s. Mueller explained the rules and covenants of the church to show why the women were afraid to contact law enforcement.
At least two women were concerned that Mueller would refer to them as “suppressive people” or “enemies of the church.” One of the women was allegedly assaulted while dating and residing with Masterson. The prosecution says that Scientology leaders told the actress that she owed the actor sex because he had been taking care of her and that she had “pulled this in” or done something in a past life to deserve it.
Mueller told the jury that she had faith in them. She had faith in Scientology. “OK, maybe I just pulled this in,” she reflected.
In That ’70s Show, Masterson, 46, who played Steven Hyde, is accused of raping three women in his Hollywood Hills home in 2001 and 2003. On each occasion, Masterson made the women drink wine before forcing them into his bedroom for rape.
Masterson disputes the accusations and insists he only engaged in consensual sex with the women. If found guilty, he might spend the rest of his life in prison.
During Mueller’s testimony, Masterson sat at the defense table next to his attorney with his legs crossed and his hands on his lap. As he talked about what happened, the deputy district attorney shook his head and raised his eyebrows.
In his opening speech, Philip Cohen, the attorney for Masterson, emphasized the contradictions in the women’s testimonies. Cohen also said that the women’s claims were similar because they talked about the incidents, which was against the advice of the police.
According to Cohen, “the conversation between these women and the conversation between the women and Mr. Mueller becomes so crucial to this story.”
He also stressed to the jury that Scientology and its methods are not charged in this case in response to Mueller’s assertion that Scientology played a big role in this trial.
Cohen stated, “This case is about what you believe has been proven regarding those three evenings. Three women are going to tell you about three nights that occurred about 17, 18, or 20 years ago.
Everything else, according to Cohen, is the “elephant in the room.” During his introduction, he flashed a PowerPoint with the words “bad boyfriend” and Scientology in a grey elephant graphic.
The focus of Masterson’s trial will probably be the church and its practices. The three ex-Scientologists spoke at a preliminary hearing last year about how church leaders allegedly protected Masterson from responsibility.
One woman said that when she went to the church’s Celebrity Center in Hollywood to report the sexual assault, she was warned against using the word “rape” and informed that if she did, she risked being ejected from the church and shunned by her Scientologist family and friends.
Another woman said that a church official told her to write a letter of apology after Masterson allegedly raped her while she was sleeping in 2001.
All three women filed lawsuits against the church in 2019 for harassment and stalking after reporting Masterson to the police. They accuse people of spying on them, tracking their communications, butchering pets, and breaking into cars.
The church disputes the allegations made by the women, despite criticism for its secrecy, orthodoxy, and alleged physical and financial abuse.
For years, Masterson and his aides have insisted that the women were lying and anti-Scientology. His attorneys demanded that Scientology be kept out of the case. The alleged victims were given permission to speak this month by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo to describe how Scientology delayed reporting the crimes to law enforcement and their perception that the church’s rules barred them from speaking to police. Olmedo concluded that rather than the dog that was allegedly slaughtered, the women could only talk about alleged harassment after reporting the offences.
Olmedo interrupted the prosecutor’s questioning on Tuesday to instruct the jury to merely assess witnesses’ testimony about Scientology operations to establish their credibility and truthfulness. Olmedo said that Mueller was “going too far” when he questioned one of the women, J.B. J.B., who grew up in a Scientologist family, said in court that “it was frowned upon to hang out with the opposition” according to church rules.
During a break in the proceedings, Olmedo, who was clearly angry, told the lawyers to follow her orders from earlier this month. She said that Cohen didn’t have to object every time Scientology came up and that Mueller couldn’t bring it up when he asked about the witnesses’ personal lives.
According to the judge, Scientology will not be a factor in this trial. If you don’t obey my order, I’ll begin dismissing the jury whenever I need to reprimand one side or the other.
After the jury had adjourned for the day, Cohen filed a motion for a mistrial, claiming that J.B.’s direct examination remarks were unfairly biased in favor of Masterson.
He asserted, “Masterson is a Scientologist.” The jury was told that “Masterson and his faith look down upon those… that are not of the same religion.”
Olmedo responded that Scientology was nothing “unique,” but he was troubled by the way the prosecution was grilling him. The court, however, denied Cohen’s plea for a mistrial right away.
Authorities in Los Angeles started looking into the allegations in 2017, which led to Masterson losing his job on Netflix’s The Ranch, where he had starred alongside Ashton Kutcher. June 2020 saw the arraignment of Masterson. He was released after posting $3.3 million bail.
In the courtroom on Tuesday was Masterson’s spouse, actress Bijou Phillips, and his siblings, actors Chris, Alanna, and Jordan. There was William Baldwin, Alec Baldwin’s brother and the spouse of Chynna Phillips, Bijou Phillips’ half-sister.
Celebrities with ties to Scientology may participate in the four-week trial. Lisa Marie Presley, who left the church in 2014, and Brie Shaffer, Masterson’s former assistant and the spouse of well-known Scientologist Michael Pea, were both on a list of potential witnesses that was presented to journalists last week.
On Tuesday, J.B. gave testimony concerning her friendships with Masterson, Shaffer, and Presley in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
She recalled that at the time, Masterson was “cordial” and “nice,” and she occasionally went to his house with Shaffer to deliver groceries or other stuff for him.
After the afternoon break, Mueller questioned J.B. regarding a September 2002 event that harmed her relationship with Shaffer. J.B. is said to have been sexually assaulted by J.B. in his home after going out with a group at the Vista Theatre in Los Feliz. There are no charges for this incident.
After kissing and having intercourse, Masterson allegedly penetrated J.B. anally without her permission.
She choked, “I just reached, I pulled from the pain because it hurt so badly.” “I seized the sheet and backed out. At first, I was unable to identify it. “
Prior to the alleged assault, J.B. claimed that she laughed a lot while kissing Masterson. She was her friend’s supervisor and a brother figure, so she labelled it “stupid” and “incestuous.”
J.B. said, “Sometimes like a harsh brother. Masterson shook his head once again.