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Danny Masterson Convicted of Rape at Second Los Angeles Trial

The “That 70s Show” actor found guilty for raping three women he met through Scientology.

Danny Masterson and Bijou Phillips outside of a courthouse in Los Angeles
Danny Masterson and wife Bijou Phillips pose outside of the courthouse during his first trial in 2022 (Photo Credits: Meghann Cuniff)

Actor Danny Masterson was found guilty on two counts of rape on Wednesday, ending a years-long legal battle. The charges regard Masterson sexually assaulting three women he met through the Church of Scientology.


After a week of deliberations, the jury was convinced that Masterson sexually assaulted two women in his Hollywood Hills home in the early 2000s. Jurors hung on a third count stemming from allegations made by Chrissie B., who was once Masterson’s longtime girlfriend. The panel was leaning toward a guilty verdict on that count but was deadlocked with a vote of 8—4. Though, the jury’s vote was in favor of conviction.


Soon after the guilty verdict was announced, an audible gasp came from Masterson’s family, specifically his wife, Bijou Phillips. According to the Los Angeles Times, she sobbed heavily as Masterson was led away in handcuffs.

Defense lawyer Phil Cohen asked the judge to consider Masterson’s age as well as the fact that the crimes happened 20 years ago. Judge Charlaine Olmedo denied the request for Masterson to be bailed out until the sentencing hearing. His sentencing hearing will be held in August of this year as he faces up to 30 years behind bars.


The jury previously deadlocked on all counts against Masterson during a trial last year, with most leaning toward an acquittal. Prosecutors sought a retrial, and this time around, they focused on Masterson preying on members of his church and using drugs to make them vulnerable before each assault.


In the first trial, the three women testified that they felt weak or woozy, and had little memory, after taking a drink that Masterson prepared. Though, prosecutors didn’t overtly claim that Masterson fixed the drink to disable the women. During the second trial, they made the overt claim that the actor drugged the women.


“They were all drugged,” Prosecutor Ariel Anson argued. “The defendant drugs his victims to be in control. He does this to take away these victims’ ability to consent. This is not about consent. This is not about the defendant misunderstanding these victim’s signals. When he drugs them, he’s able to completely physically control them. You don’t want to have sex? You don’t have a choice… The defendant makes that choice for these victims and does it over and over and over again.”


Cohen said it’s not a drugging case as there’s no tangible evidence of said drugging. He argued that the women “tweaked” their stories to fit the narrative of rape. He alleged that the women met with one another and discussed the case.


“A woman has an absolute right to say no,” Cohen said. “But when the ‘no’ comes 16 years, 17 years later…that’s a very, very scary scenario.”


Not only did Cohen attempt to discredit the women's stories, Masterson's publicist Jenni Weinman did as well. While speaking with one of Masterson's accusers, Weinman argues that Chrissie Bixler, one of the witnesses of the cases, was dating Masterson at the time, so Masterson couldn't have raped her.

The Church of Scientology has made its presence known since the Los Angeles police began its investigation into the actor in 2017. At that time, Masterson dismissed the claims as an attempt to slander the religion.


Throughout the case, the three women testified that they were either discouraged from contacting law enforcement by Scientology officials or they were told the incidents weren’t rape.


Each victim feared that reporting Masterson would lead the church to label them “suppressive persons.” Being labeled as such would make them enemies of the church and cause their families to cut all contact.


Scientology officials repeatedly denied prohibiting members from cooperating with police. Though, after a 2021 preliminary hearing, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo ruled the church has “an expressly written doctrine” that discourages members reporting other members to law enforcement.


The church disagreed with the ruling. Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw said church policy “explicitly demands Scientologists abide by all laws of the land, including the reporting of cri

mes. This is blatantly clear in the documents we understand were put before the Court — and many others.”


In addition to the women’s allegations about the Church of Scientology, it has been revealed that a church attorney obtained discovery materials in the case last month. The revelation has sparked an LAPD investigation and allegations of impropriety from prosecutors.


The materials obtained by Vicki Podberesky allegedly include redacted text messages exchanged between Masterson’s accusers and LAPD investigators. A hearing to determine how Podberesky got the materials was scheduled for Wednesday, but was rescheduled due to ongoing deliberations. The hearing is expected to take place next week.


Podberesky claims that she obtained the documents legally and did nothing wrong. Though, she declined to explain how they got into her possession. The Church of Scientology hasn’t commented on the matter, yet.



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