'That '70s Show' Actor and Scientologist Danny Masterson Found Guilty of Felony Rape

(Photo by Annie I. Bang /Invision/AP, File)

“That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson was found guilty on two counts of rape at his retrial in Los Angeles, with a possible sentence of 30 years to life in prison. Masterson’s wife, Bijou Phillips, reacted with shock and tears as he was taken into custody. The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for seven days but could not reach a verdict on the third count. Masterson will be held without bail until sentencing, and his attorneys are expected to appeal.


The Church of Scientology played a large role in both trials. Judge Charlaine Olmedo allowed expert testimony from a former Scientology official who testified against the church’s policies. Tensions between current and former Scientologists were high during the trial. Actress Leah Remini, who has made a shocking mini-series, “Scientology and the Aftermath,” which exposed the cult’s inner workings, reportedly supported one of the victims during closing arguments.

The cult issued a statement after the verdict, claiming that introducing religion into the trial violated the First Amendment, and denied any harassment of the accusers. The victims testified that they faced obstacles when reporting Masterson to church officials, who denied their claims and subjected them to punishment and retaliation. Former Scientologists have come forward to report that the cult rules forbid one Scientologist from turning another over to authorities.

Masterson, known for his role as Steven Hyde on “That ’70s Show,” was accused of drugging and raping three women between 2001 and 2003. Masterson did not testify during the trial, and his defense team called no witnesses. They argued that the acts were consensual and tried to undermine the credibility of the victims.

A hearing is scheduled to investigate how a lawyer representing the Church of Scientology gained access to evidence shared between the prosecution and defense.


The trial exposed the graphic and emotional testimonies of the victims, who described being drugged and raped by Masterson. The second trial allowed the prosecution and victims to explicitly mention the drugging, while the first trial only allowed them to describe their condition.

Masterson’s sentencing date is yet to be determined.

The Masterson trial was not televised and the public did not get to see the evidence presented at trial. Because of this, the public can only rely on news reporters who covered the trial for the details. Trusting mainstream news to tell the truth is a risky proposition. Cameras in all courtrooms are essential to the transparency and health of our justice system. In the first trial, which ended in a mistrial, the jury foreman said the women kept changing their stories.

The jury foreman in the rape trial of Danny Masterson said evolving details and other “credibility” issues in his three accusers’ stories ultimately led to a mistrial, while a lack of preparedness from prosecutors and LAPD detectives who testified certainly didn’t help.

The foreman went on to describe several inconsistencies in the women’s stories that led to the first mistrial.

The problem, he said, was that sometime after she said she was forcibly raped, Jane Doe 4 let Masterson come inside when he showed up at his house, took a drink from his whiskey flask – and said she was assaulted again. “We thought a reasonable person would not do that if someone raped you,” Earl said. “You’re not gonna have him come to your house and spend the night and have sex again.”


It’s worrying that prosecutors brought this case a second time behind closed doors without the public having the opportunity to weigh the evidence. I’m not a fan of Scientology, but a fair trial is essential to liberty. We can’t confirm if that’s what happened here due to the closed nature of the trial. It’s just one more example of why cameras in the courtroom benefit us all.


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