- Three rape charges have been brought against Danny Masterson.
- The actor’s connections to the Church of Scientology are expected to be brought up in the trial.
- Danny Masterson was fired from ‘The Ranch’ on Netflix once the allegations were brought to light.
- Danny Masterson’s trial began on Tuesday, October 11. He faces up to 45 years in prison.
Danny Masteron’s trial for three rape charges began on Tuesday, October 11. The actor, 46, was accused by three women of sexual assault back in 2017, and the women filed a lawsuit against him in 2019. The following year, Danny was arrested on three charges of rape from cases in 2003. Danny has moved for the case to be thrown out, but he has not succeeded. A trial was originally scheduled to begin in Los Angeles in August, but it was delayed until October.
Now that the trial has begun, Danny’s connection as well as three of his victims’ connections to Scientology has been shoved to the forefront of the trial. However, this angered Judge Charlaine Olmedo, who does not want Scientology to be at the center of discussion. During a break on Oct. 18, she stated (via Variety), “I understand these witnesses’ lives may have been completely inundated with Scientology. This trial is not going to be inundated with Scientology.”
As the trial continues, find out everything you need to know about Danny and the charges against him.
The Latest On The Trial
The criminal trial against the actor began on October 11. The trial is separate from the civil lawsuit filed by four of Danny’s victims, who are also suing the Church of Scientology. The women have also spoken out against the church. While the trial is still in the early stages, Judge Charlaine Olmedo commented on the role of the controversial church in a pre-trial hearing, per Variety. “This is not going to become a trial on Scientology,” she had said.
The Charges Against Danny Masterson
Sexual assault allegations were first brought against Danny in March 2017 Three women accused the actor of sexually assaulting them, although the That 70s Show star has denied the claims. After the claims came out, The Mars Volta frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala came forward and said that his wife Chrissie Carnell Bixler was one of the victims in a since-deleted tweet. Danny was fired from the Netflix series The Ranch in December 2017. Shortly after his firing, Bobette Riales came forward to accuse him of raping her. Two years after the investigation was launched, four women, two of whom were listed as Jane Does, as well as Chrissie and Bobette, filed a lawsuit against Danny and the Church of Scientology, citing stalking and harassment.
Following the 2019 filing, Danny singled out one of the victims and said he was prepared for the legal battle from the lawsuit. “I will beat her in court — and look forward to it because the public will finally be able learn the truth and see how I’ve been railroaded by this woman. And once her lawsuit is thrown out, I intend to sue her and the others who jumped on the bandwagon for the damage they caused me and my family,” he said in a statement to People.
The lawsuit isn’t the subject of the October trial though. In June 2020, Danny was arrested and charged with allegedly raping three women for incidents between 2001 and 2003. The alleged victims were a 23-year-old woman in January and December 2001, another 23-year-old in October and December 2003, and a 28-year-old in April 2003. The Men At Work star’s attorney Tom Mesereau maintained his innocence in a statement at the time. “Obviously, Mr. Masterson and his wife are in complete shock considering that these nearly 20-year old allegations are suddenly resulting in charges being filed, but they and their family are comforted knowing that ultimately the truth will come out. The people who know Mr. Masterson know his character and know the allegations to be false,” he said. After pleading “not guilty” in 2021, Danny was released on bail.
The Scientology Connection
As mentioned above, the women suing Danny have also filed their lawsuit against the Church of Scientology. Danny is a member of the church, and three of the women who have accused him are former members, including Chrissie and her husband. The women claimed that they were pressured to not share their allegations by the church, and since coming forward, the victims have claimed to be harassed by the church. The Mars Volta singer has claimed that Scientologists harassed his family and even poisoned their family dog, after the allegations came out. In since-deleted social media posts, Cedric claimed that people have gone by his house, harassed his family on social media, slashed tires and more, via MetalSucks.
During a pre-trial hearing, the women spoke about being worried to come forward with their allegations, due to his involvement in the church. The church denied pressuring the women in a statement to The New York Times, following Danny’s firing from The Ranch. “What is being stated is utterly untrue,” the organization said. “This has nothing to do with religion. This story is being manipulated to push a bigoted agenda.”
The highly questioned, yet still mystic religion was brought up during the opening statement by lead prosecutor Reinhold Mueller, as reported by Variety. “They can declare you a suppressive person,” Reinhold said, purposely painting the church in an unpleasant light. “You are essentially an enemy of the church. Your friends, your parents — if you have children who are part of the church — they all have to detach from you. Essentially you lose everything.”
Jane Doe No. 1, the first witness to take the stand, also brought up the supposed restrictive teachings of the religion. “The goal of Scientology is to clear the planet,” she claimed in front of the Los Angeles courtroom.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Phillip Cohen attempted to convince the jury to not get distracted by the stories about Scientology they will hear. “This case is about three women who are going to tell you about three nights almost 20 years ago,” he stated, per Deadline. “This other stuff is truly the elephant in the room.” He also showed the jury a cloud of words that was shaped into an elephant. “Scientology” was one of the words included in the cloud.
The First Witness Speaks
Jane Doe No. 1 recalled an alleged sexual interaction that occurred with the former beloved actor during her first testimony. She claimed Danny was feeding her double and triple alcoholic beverages while they were partying in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles before allegedly assaulting her. She previously said while she thought this encounter was consensual, she later determined that it was not, describing it as feeling “incestuous” because she and Danny were so close at that point of time. The alleged incident happened in 2002 and is not included in her lawsuit against him.
Meanwhile, the defense hit back and claimed there were discrepancies in Jane Doe’s story as well as a lack of evidence.
Is Danny Masterson Still Married?
Danny has been romantically involved with Bijou Phillips, 42, since 2004. The couple eventually got married in October 2011, and they share a daughter Fiona, 8. Through all the allegations, Danny and Bijou have stayed married. In Danny’s lawyer’s statement, she was mentioned as also being “shocked” by the allegations, and she seems to be standing by him.
Danny Masterson’s Career
Danny has been in the entertainment business for most of his life. He was child model and later teen actor, appearing in commercials. His most well-known role continues to be his part in That 70s Show, where he played Steven Hyde for all eight seasons. He’s appeared in movies such as Face/Off (1997) and Dracula 2000 (2000). Since the sitcom ended, he’s had roles in the series Men At Work from 2012 to 2014 and The Ranch from 2016 to 2018. After the allegations came out, Danny was fired from The Ranch in December 2017. Netflix released a statement about his firing. “As a result of ongoing discussions, Netflix and the producers have written Danny Masterson out of ‘The Ranch,’” the company said.
While Danny hasn’t appeared in anything since getting written off The Ranch, he has been announced as part of the cast of Killing Winston Jones, which is said to be completed, and the upcoming film In Limbo, per IMDb.