ENTERTAINMENT

Mistrial declared in actor Danny Masterson’s rape trial

Nov 30, 2022, 5:58 PM

Danny Masterson sits in an interview...

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 07: Danny Masterson speaks during a Launch Event for Netflix "The Ranch: Part 3" hosted by Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson at Tequila Cowboy on June 7, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Netflix)

(Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Netflix)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge declared a mistrial Wednesday after jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked at the trial of “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson, who was charged with three rapes.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo had ordered the jurors to take Thanksgiving week off and keep deliberating after they told her on Nov. 18 that they could not come to a consensus about the rape allegations after a monthlong trial in which the Church of Scientology played a supporting role.

Masterson, 46, was charged with the rape of three women, including a former girlfriend, in his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003. He pleaded not guilty and his lawyer said the acts were all consensual. All three women were members of the church at the time, and Masterson remains one.

“I find the jurors hopelessly deadlocked,” Judge Charlaine Olmedo declared after inquiring whether there was anything the court could do to move them closer to reaching a unanimous decision. She set a March date for a retrial.

Jurors said they had voted seven times Tuesday and Wednesday without being able to reach consensus on any of the three counts.

The jury foreman said only two jurors voted for conviction on the first count, four voted for conviction on the second count and five voted to convict on the third count.

Jurors were forced to start deliberations from scratch on Monday when two had to be dismissed because they came down with COVID-19. They deliberated for two days but still could not reach verdicts.

The result was a serious setback for prosecutors, and for the three women who said they were seeking long overdue justice.

The proceedings took place amid a flurry of cases on both coasts with #MeToo connotations, including the Los Angeles trial of Harvey Weinstein just down the hall from Masterson’s. In New York, Kevin Spacey won a sexual misconduct lawsuit brought by actor Anthony Rapp in New York, and a jury ordered director and screenwriter Paul Haggis to pay $10 million in a civil case there.

But at the Masterson trial, as at the Haggis trial, the #MeToo implications were largely eclipsed by the specter of Scientology, despite the judge’s insistence that the church not become a de facto defendant.

The women, all referred to as Jane Does and all former members of the church, said they were intimidated, harassed and stalked after Masterson was charged. They have repeated those allegations in a pending lawsuit against the church.

Masterson attorney Philip Cohen said the church was mentioned 700 times during trial and argued that it became an excuse for the prosecution’s failure to build a believable case against Masterson, a prominent Scientologist.

But Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller said the church had tried to silence the women and that was the reason it took two decades for the case to get to trial.

Masterson did not testify. His lawyer presented no defense testimony and instead focused on inconsistencies in the accounts of the three accusers, who he said changed their stories over time and spoke with each other before going to police.

“The key to this case is not when they reported it,” Cohen said during closing arguments. “It’s what they said when they reported it. What they said after they reported it. And what they said at trial.”

Mueller argued that Masterson was a man “for whom ‘no’ never meant ‘no,’” as shown by the graphic and emotional testimony of the three accusers.

Two women said they were served drinks by Masterson and became woozy or passed out before being violently raped. One said she thought she would die as Masterson held a pillow over her face.

An ex-girlfriend said she awoke to finding Masterson having sex with her without her consent. The defense said her claims were undermined because she later had sex with him after they broke up.

Cohen told jurors they could acquit Masterson if they thought he “actually and reasonably believed” the women consented to having sex. Mueller countered that nobody would believe the acts described were consensual, reminding jurors that one woman repeatedly told him “no,” pulled his hair and tried to get out from under him.

Mueller told jurors not to be swayed by defense speculation and said contradictions in the victims’ testimony were signs of authenticity as opposed to accounts that had been scripted.

The charges date to a period when Masterson was at the height of his fame, starring from 1998 until 2006 as Steven Hyde on Fox’s “That ’70s Show.” The show made stars of Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace and is getting an upcoming Netflix reboot with “That ’90s Show.”

Masterson had reunited with Kutcher on the Netflix comedy “The Ranch” but was written off the show when an LAPD investigation was revealed in December 2017.

KSL 5 TV Live

Entertainment

view of a rectangular building from a wide street in Salt Lake City...

Carole Mikita

Curtain set to rise on Eccles Theater 2024-25 season with old favorites and new twists

The old and the new, funny and bittersweet, the 2024-2025 Eccles season will bring musical productions for every age. And three more very popular shows return to the Eccles as "extras" for the season.

1 day ago

Beyoncé is pictured at the 2024 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
Mandatory Credit:	Kevin Mazur/Getty ...

Alli Rosenbloom, CNN

Beyoncé debuts at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and makes history

Beyoncé’s new song “Texas Hold ‘Em” debuted in the top spot of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart on Tuesday.

3 days ago

FILE - Portrait of British pop group The Beatles (L-R) Paul McCartney, George Harrison (1943 - 2001...

Jake Coyle, AP Film Writer

Beatles to get a Fab Four of biopics, with a movie each for Paul, John, George and Ringo

The Beatles are getting the big-screen biopic treatment in a Fab Four of movies that will give each band member their own film.

3 days ago

Cillian Murphy, winner of the leading actor award for 'Oppenheimer', poses for photographers at the...

Jill Lawless, The Associated Press

‘Oppenheimer’ wins seven prizes, including best picture, at the British Academy Film Awards

Atom bomb epic “Oppenheimer” won seven prizes, including best picture, director and actor, at the 77th British Academy Film Awards on Sunday, cementing its front-runner status for the Oscars next month.

5 days ago

FILE - Paul McCartney performs during his "Got Back" tour on June 16, 2022, at MetLife Stadium in E...

Brian Melley, The Associated Press

Paul McCartney’s stolen bass is found and returned more than 50 years later

Paul McCartney no longer gently weeps for his original bass guitar. A five-year search by the manufacturer of the instrument that was aided by a husband-and-wife team of journalists helped reunite The Beatles star with the distinctive violin-shaped 1961 electric Höfner that went missing a half century ago and is estimated to be worth 10 million pounds ($12.6 million).

6 days ago

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 18: Frankie Muniz, driver of the #30 Hair Club Ford, waits on the...

Mark Long, AP Sports Writer

‘Malcolm in the Middle’ star Frankie Muniz back at Daytona and rising up the NASCAR racing ladder

Actor Frankie Muniz will try to make his Xfinity Series debut in the No. 35 Ford for Joey Gase Racing at Daytona International Speedway.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Mistrial declared in actor Danny Masterson’s rape trial