A judge ruled on Friday that actor Danny Masterson must stand trail for three counts of rape following days of testimony from his accusers.
LA County Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo found the accounts of three women in the preliminary hearing credible and will move forward to trial.
The alleged incidents against the ’70s Show star date back nearly 20 years, to the height of his fame.
During the pre-trial hearing, his attorneys pressed the alleged victims on discrepancies in their claims, which date to between 2001 and 2003. Masterson’s lawyer, Sharon Appelbaum said,
“Memories fade and memories change.”
Lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau also defended Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson over sexual abuse charges. (Ugh.) He contended in court that religious bias had tainted the prosecution’s case.
Masterson is a high ranking Scientologist. All three accusers are former members of the church. Scientology and its teachings came up so frequently during the preliminary hearing, that the judge said that the church itself was not on trial.
Appelbaum claimed that the three women formed a “sisterhood” and defied court orders by contacting each other and coordinate their accusations. He said that they
“seems to want to take down Mr. Masterson and take down Scientology.
“Over time their stories are becoming more similar to one another. They’re taking the language of one another.”
Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller objected,
“These were not rehearsed statements.
They were heartfelt, and they each had their versions of what happened. If there is any consistency in these statements, it was because the defendant was consistent in these acts.”
One alleged victim said that Masterson raped her at his home, Masterson claimed the encounter was consensual.
Another accuser said she dated the actor for five years, but woke up to him raping her in the middle of the night.
The third woman said she was raped at Masterson’s home after she was purportedly invited over for sex, and tried to set boundaries. Defense lawyers contend she was angry that the encounter did not lead to a relationship.
Masterson’s legal team said the woman sought financial gain by filing a lawsuit, but the accusers said they aimed to put a halt to alleged harassment from the Church of Scientology.
The accusations against Masterson led to him being written off Netflix’s The Ranch in 2017, which he stared on alongside former sitcom screen partner Ashton Kutcher.
Masterson is free on bail, and will be arraigned on June 7. He has pleaded not guilty to the counts of rape by force or fear. If convicted on all three charges, he could face 45 years in prison.
(via NY Post)