Actor Danny Masterson was part of the cast on the throwback “That ’70s Show” and will stand trial for allegedly raping three women at his Hollywood Hills home.
LOS ANGELES (CN) — A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled on Friday “That ‘70s Show” actor Danny Masterson will stand trial on charges that he forcibly raped three women.
Last June, the LA District Attorney’s office charged Masterson, 45, with three counts of rape by force or fear. Prosecutors claim Masterson forcibly raped a 23-year-old woman between January and December 2001, a 28-year-old woman in April 2003 and a 23-year-old woman in December that same year. All the alleged rapes took place at Masterson’s home in the Hollywood Hills, according to prosecutors.
On Friday, after listening to testimony from the women in a preliminary hearing, Judge Charlaine Olmedo ruled that Masterson would stand trial on all three charges. Masterson has denied the women’s allegations and claims he had consensual sex with them. During a four-day preliminary hearing in a downtown LA courtroom, the women testified about the alleged sexual assaults.
One woman, identified as Jen B., testified that Masterson offered her a mixed drink at his home in April 2003. The drink made her feel ill and then she says Masterson pushed her into a jacuzzi. At one point Masterson carried her to a bathtub and Jen B. says he bathed her and then carried her to his bed where he raped her. She testified that Masterson threatened her with a gun in his nightstand.
Throughout the hearing attorneys referenced the Church of Scientology and its practices. Masterson is a member of the church and Olmedo found the women’s explanation that they were afraid to report their stories to police out of fear of being isolated among the church community as credible.
Masterson’s attorney, Thomas Mesereau, claimed that the women corroborated their stories to try and smear his client, and the prosecution’s case is biased against the church. Masterson’s attorneys did not return requests for comment after the hearing.
Olmedo ruled that the women’s testimony is credible enough to move the case forward, which has a lower threshold for sufficient evidence than when the case goes to trial. Masterson, who remains free on a $3.3 million bail, will be held to answer on all three counts and his arraignment is set for June 7.
According to the prosecution’s timeline, Masterson was a cast member on “That ‘70s Show” when the alleged sexual assaults took place where he starred with fellow actor Ashton Kutcher. In 2016, the two actors reunited on the Netflix series “The Ranch” but the following year producers fired Masterson due to sexual assault allegations that had come to light during the #MeToo era.
In August 2019, the three women named in the prosecution’s case and a fourth woman sued Masterson and the Church of Scientology for stalking, claiming they were being harassed after they filed sexual assault allegations against the actor with the LAPD. A portion of that case has been sent to arbitration.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.