Trial begins for Danny Masterson, ‘That ’70s Present’ actor charged with rape

LOS ANGELES — A prosecutor described rape allegations by three girls Tuesday in opposition to “That ’70s Present” actor Danny Masterson from 20 years in the past that contained a few of the similar disturbing parts.

Two girls grew to become woozy or handed out after a pair drinks and have been tossed in his sizzling tub, Deputy District Lawyer Reinhold Mueller mentioned in his opening assertion in Masterson’s trial. Considered one of them mentioned he dragged her to his mattress the place she regained consciousness to seek out him having intercourse along with her. A 3rd lady, an ex-girlfriend, mentioned she woke as much as discover him on prime of her.

Masterson’s lawyer mentioned the rationale the allegations had a lot in frequent is that the alleged victims violated a detective’s warning to not communicate with one another and had “cross-pollinated” their accounts and undermined their credibility.

“For those who communicate to one another you’ll contaminate this case,” they have been informed, protection lawyer Phillip Cohen mentioned in Los Angeles Superior Courtroom. “Talking to one another and different witnesses is deadly to a case.”

Masterson, 46, has pleaded not responsible to a few counts of forcible rape between 2001 and 2003 at his Hollywood residence, which functioned as a social hub when he was on the peak of his fame.

Cohen urged the jurors to not think about Masterson’s affiliation with the Church of Scientology and its relationship to the case whereas Mueller mentioned that it helped clarify why the ladies — all former members of the church — waited so lengthy to report the incidents.

Two of the alleged victims first went to the church to report what occurred to them and have been informed it wasn’t rape and that reporting it to authorities or telling others about it might finish with them being ostracized by their closest pals and even relations.

“You primarily change into an enemy of the church,” Mueller mentioned. “You lose all of it.”

Cohen mentioned the case had nothing to do with the faith and he repeatedly objected when it was introduced up.

Superior Courtroom Choose Charlaine F. Olmedo sternly reminded the attorneys that Scientology wouldn’t dominate the trial.

The trial’s witness record is filled with members and former members of the church, which has a robust presence in Los Angeles and has counted many well-known figures amongst its members. The record consists of former member Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley and former spouse of Michael Jackson, a good friend of one of many alleged victims.

One of many girls had been Masterson’s longtime girlfriend. One other was greatest pals along with his private assistant, and the third, an actress, was a more recent acquaintance.

The good friend of his assistant filed a police report as a result of she was sad with the way in which the Scientology ethics board dealt with her criticism. No prices have been introduced on the time.

In 2016, she linked and shared tales with the ex-girlfriend who is likely one of the accusers. Every filed a police report that 12 months. Masterson’s former girlfriend mentioned she did so after telling her story to her husband, who helped her perceive she had been raped. The third lady went to police in 2017.

At a preliminary listening to final 12 months, protection attorneys prompt consensual intercourse was retroactively reframed as rape, and mentioned the age of the incidents made correct reminiscences unattainable.

If convicted, Masterson might resist 45 years in jail.

The Related Press doesn’t sometimes title individuals who say they have been victims of sexual abuse except they arrive ahead publicly.

Masterson was one of many first Hollywood figures to be prosecuted within the #MeToo period. His is one in every of a number of high-profile sexual assault instances which have gone to trial round the fifth anniversary of the reporting of accusations in opposition to Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, which reworked the #MeToo motion into a world reckoning.

Weinstein’s second rape and sexual assault trial — he’s already been convicted in New York — is occurring concurrently, simply down the corridor from Masterson’s. In New York, civil trials have begun for actor Kevin Spacey and for screenwriter and director Paul Haggis, who’re each being sued for sexual assault.

Haggis is himself a Scientology dissident, and the choose in that case is permitting him to argue that the church is behind the allegations in opposition to him.

From 1998 till 2006, Masterson starred as Steven Hyde on Fox’s “That ’70s Present,” which made stars of Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace and is getting an upcoming Netflix reboot with “That ’90s Present.”

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

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