Danny Masterson, a well-known American actor, has been sentenced to 30 years to life in jail for raping two women. Masterson was a cast member on That ’70s Show, a TV show that aired at the time of his crimes in the early 2000s.
Prosecutors claimed Masterson, 47, used his celebrity as a Scientologist to evade accountability. Before punishment, Judge Charlaine Olmedo permitted the victims of his acts to read impact statements in court.
Leah Remini, a prominent former Scientologist and actress, attended Thursday’s sentence session and consoled the ladies before and after their comments.
According to US media, one of the women remarked, “I wish I had reported him to the police sooner. I forgive you,” said another woman to Masterson. According to Reuters, “your sickness is no longer mine to bear.”
Throughout the hearing, Masterson stayed mute.
As the judge pronounced his punishment – the maximum allowable – his wife, Bijou Phillips, was seen in court sobbing.
Masterson was found guilty at a retrial in May after the first jury failed to reach a judgement in 2022. Masterson was deemed a flight risk after his conviction and was brought into custody.
Danny Masterson Retrial
The actor was convicted after three women testified that he sexually attacked them at his Hollywood home between 2001 and 2003, when he was at the peak of his television celebrity. The jury heard testimony that he had given them narcotics before assaulting them.
He was convicted of rape by two of his three accusers. The third accuser’s allegations were declared a mistrial, and prosecutors stated that they do not intend to retry the case.
Alison Anderson, a lawyer for two of the victims, told BBC News that the ladies “have demonstrated tremendous strength and bravery by coming forward to law enforcement and directly participating in two gruelling criminal trials.”
“Despite persistent harassment, obstruction, and intimidation, these courageous women helped hold a ruthless sexual predator accountable today,” she added, adding that the women will continue to speak out about the alleged role of the church in their abuse.
One woman testified in court on Thursday about being ignored by her mother, who is still a practicing Scientologist.
“She texted me and told me to never contact her again,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “She had warned me beforehand that she wanted Danny Masterson imprisoned for what he’d done to me, but not at the expense of her religion.”
Another woman claimed she had been persecuted by the church after speaking out.
“I have been terrorized, harassed, and had my privacy invaded daily by the cult of Scientology for almost 7 years now,” she claimed, adding, “but I don’t regret it.”
Masterson was accused of rape for the first time in 2017, during the height of the #MeToo movement. He disputed the allegations and stated that all of the interactions were consensual.
The charges come following a three-year investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department. Prosecutors did not pursue charges in two additional cases due to a lack of evidence and the statute of limitations having expired.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors claimed that the Church of Scientology assisted in covering up the assaults, which the religion strongly rejected.
Masterson and all three of his accusers were Scientologists at the time of the assaults. Several of the women stated it took them years to come forward because leaders from the Church of Scientology discouraged them from reporting the rape to police.
According to authorities, Scientology leaders threatened one survivor with expulsion unless she signed a non-disclosure agreement and took a $400,000 (£320,000) payment.
During the trial, Judge Olmedo enabled both sides to debate Scientology’s ideology and practises, which enraged the organisation.
The Church of Scientology declared in a statement following the judgement in May that there was “not a scintilla of evidence supporting the scandalous allegations that the Church harassed the accusers.”
Jessica Barth, who formed Voices in Action in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, also attended Thursday’s sentence.
Ms. Barth was one of the women who publicly accused notorious Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment. Her non-profit organisation seeks to encourage others to report abuse.
According to a Los Angeles court official, the judge refused Masterson’s defence team’s plea for a fresh trial prior to the hearing.