Jury hears closing arguments for ‘That ‘70s Show’ star Danny Masterson’s rape retrial
A prosecutor told jurors Tuesday that actor Danny Masterson "carefully sought out his prey" and then drugged and raped three women between 2001 and 2003, while his attorney questioned the credibility of the alleged victims and urged the panel to acquit his client.
"It all starts with a drink ... This is his play book," Deputy District Attorney Ariel Anson told the downtown Los Angeles jury, saying that the 47-year-old co-star of "That '70s Show" drugged his alleged victims so he would be in control. "Like all predators, the defendant carefully sought out his prey."
The jury is the second to hear the case against Masterson, who was charged in 2020 with three counts of rape by force or fear involving the three women on separate alleged occasions.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Danny Masterson: Jury hears opening statements in retrial of '70s Show' actor accused of rape
During last year's trial, jurors leaned in favor of acquittal on all three counts against Masterson -- voting 10-2 on one count, 8-4 on another and 7-5 on the third -- but they were unable to reach a unanimous decision, leading to the mistrial last Nov. 30.
Prosecutors confirmed in January that they wanted to retry the actor, and Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo rejected a defense effort to have the charges dismissed.
"What this case involves is the sexual assaults of three women ... the forcible rape of three women," the deputy district attorney told the jury during his opening statement April 24 in the retrial. "The evidence will show that they were drugged."
The deputy district attorney told jurors then that they will see what it took for the women to get into court, saying they will explain what they had to go through when first reporting the allegations to the Church of Scientology -- of which they were members at the time -- and the alleged limitations the church put on them.
"And they're here to seek justice," Mueller said, telling the jury that he is confident that "each of you will be able to render guilty verdicts."
Masterson's attorney, Philip Kent Cohen, countered that the case "comes down to three nights 20-plus years ago" and implored jurors to use their power "wisely" and to "pay attention" to the testimony of the three alleged victims.
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The defense lawyer said the three women had ignored repeated admonitions by a Los Angeles Police Department detective not to talk to each other out of concern that it could contaminate the case.
Cohen warned the panel that the case "should not be a trial about Scientology" -- the church to which Masterson still belongs.
Masterson has been free on bail since his June 2020 arrest by the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division.
In December 2017, Netflix announced that Masterson had been fired from the Emmy-winning scripted comedy "The Ranch" amid sexual assault allegations.
The actor said then he was "very disappointed," and added that "it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused." He also "denied the outrageous allegations" and said he looked forward to "clearing my name once and for all."
A civil suit filed in August 2019 against Masterson -- a longtime adherent of the Church of Scientology -- and the church by the three women involved in the criminal case and one woman who was not a member of the church alleges they were stalked and harassed after reporting sexual assault allegations against the actor to Los Angeles police.
Regarding the lawsuit, the Church of Scientology issued a statement saying, "The Church denies the allegations of harassment as obvious, cynical and self-serving fictions, and the Church knows it will be vindicated."