US actor and Scientologist Danny Masterson have been charged with raping three women at his home in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, prosecutors have said.
The star of television’s “That ’70s Show” and ”The Ranch” allegedly raped the women, all in their twenties at the time, by force or fear in separate incidents between 2001 and 2003.
Masterson, 44, faces a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in prison if convicted on all charges.
Masterson’s lawyer has, however denied the allegations in a statement
Mr Masterson is innocent, and we’re confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify.
“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,” Tom Mesereau said.
Personally, Masterson has reacted to the allegations saying “From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me. Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit,
I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. In this country, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused.”
Prosecutors dropped two further sexual assault cases against Masterson over lack of evidence and the statute of limitations, passing, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said.
CANDIIDONLINE reports that Masterson rose to fame with the 1998 launch of the retro sitcom “That ’70s Show,” where he played the character of Steven Hyde alongside fellow stars Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher.
He co-starred again with Kutcher on Netflix’s “The Ranch,” but was fired in 2017 and written off the show after Los Angeles police confirmed they were investigating multiple rape allegations against the actor.
At the time, Masterson said the claims were motivated by the producer of an anti-Scientology television series.
Summary of the rape allegations against Danny Masterson
On March 2017, four women filed sexual assault allegations against Masterson prompting a Los Angeles Police Department investigation. Masterson, through his agent, has denied the allegations. In response to the accusations, Netflix fired Masterson from its comedy series The Ranch on December 5, 2017, saying in a statement, “Yesterday was his last day on the show, and production will resume in early 2018 without him.”
Masterson stated that he is “obviously very disappointed in Netflix’s decision to write my character off of The Ranch.”
A fifth woman who dated Masterson made similar rape accusations in December 2017. He was dropped as a client by United Talent Agency.
A planned 2019 episode of Leah Remini’s show Aftermath, focusing on the Masterson rape allegations, was delayed due to what one of Masterson’s accusers characterized as pressure from the Church of Scientology. The episode eventually aired on August 27, 2019.
Cedric Bixler-Zavala, singer for the bands The Mars Volta and At the Drive-In, alleged that Masterson sexually assaulted his wife Chrissie Carnell Bixler, and stated his band’s song “Incurably Innocent” (from the 2017 album In•ter a•li•a) is about the incident.
In August 2019, four women filed a lawsuit against Masterson and the Church of Scientology for stalking and harassment, stemming from their rape allegations. One plaintiff claimed her dog died from (unexplained) traumatic injuries to its trachea and esophagus, also alleging that church members chased her as she drove her car, filmed her without permission, harassed her online and posted ads to social media sites soliciting sex in her name. Another plaintiff stated that she and her neighbors observed a man snapping pictures from her driveway and later that night someone broke a window in her 13-year-old daughter’s bedroom.
Such stalking and harassment claims are indicative of a Scientology term titled Fair Game, officially cancelled by L. Ron Hubbard in 1968; yet the plaintiffs’ lawyers claim it continues still to any detractors and ex-church-members, through ‘outsourcing’ to private investigators and off duty police officers.
Masterson has since responded to one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit claiming “I’m not going to fight my ex-girlfriend in the media like she’s been baiting me to do for more than two years. I will beat her in court and look forward to it because the public will finally be able to 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.”