Judge declares mistrial for 'That '70s Show' actor Danny Masterson's rape case
Trigger warning: This article contains mentions of rape.
That '70s Show actor Danny Masterson's rape case was declared a mistrial by a judge after the jury, who were leaning toward acquitting him, deadlocked on the charges.
The 46-year-old Masterson was accused of raping three women, including a former girlfriend, between 2001 and 2003. He pleaded not guilty, with his lawyer claiming that all acts were consensual.
Prosecutors said that the Church of Scientology discouraged the victims from going public. The actor allegedly gave the women alcohol, took them upstairs to his bedroom in his Hollywood home, and violently raped them.
"I find the jurors hopelessly deadlocked," Judge Charlain Olmedo declared on Nov. 30. Members of the jury, composed of six men and six women, voted seven times over the last two days, unable to reach a unanimous decision on the three charges.
Only two jurors voted to convict Masterson on the first count, while four voted on for conviction on the second count, and five voted to convict on the third count.
The mistrial also comes after two of the jurors tested positive for COVID-19 over the break and were replaced.
Two of the alleged victims expressed their disappointment over the mistrial, saying, "Masterson has evaded criminal accountability for his deplorable acts. However, we are collectively resolved to continue our fight for justice."
Amid the weeklong trial, the Church of Scientology was also in discussion in court as Masterson is a prominent Scientologist. Three of the women were former members and testified how the church officials tried to shield the actor from accountability.
One woman, referred to as Jane Doe, said she didn't go to police sooner because "you cannot report another Scientologist in good standing," was told she would "immediately be guilty of a high crime," and would be expelled from the church.
Masterson did not testify and his lawyer did not present a defense testimony, and instead focused on inconsistencies in the accounts of the three accusers.
Church of Scientology spokesperson Karin Pouw said the church doctrine and beliefs were misrepresented by the defense attorney and that the Jane Does made false allegations against them.
"There is zero truth to any of the testimony that the church has harassed or stalked the Jane Does," Pouw said.
The judge set a retrial for the case in March 2023.