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  • Writer's pictureBen Abrams

'That 70s Show' Danny Masterson Sentenced to 30 Years to Life in Prison for Rape

By Ben Abrams x The Big Magazine

Actor Danny Masterson, known for his role in the popular TV show That '70s Show, has been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for raping two women more than two decades ago. The sentencing was handed down by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo after Masterson was found guilty of two counts of rape in May. The case, which involved allegations of sexual assault and the involvement of the Church of Scientology, has drawn significant attention.

Actor Danny Masterson at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles on May 31, 2023, with wife Bijou Phillips. Danny Masterson arrives at court in Los Angeles on Wednesday with his wife, Bijou Phillips, for his retrial on charges that he raped three women from 2001 to 2003. Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Masterson, now 47 years old, was charged with raping three women, identified as Jane Doe #1, Jane Doe #2, and Jane Doe #3, between 2001 and 2003. The attacks occurred at his Hollywood Hills home during the height of his fame on "That '70s Show." Masterson denied the allegations, claiming that the encounters were consensual.

After a lengthy trial, a jury convicted Masterson on two counts of rape, but they could not reach a verdict on the third count involving Jane Doe #3. The judge declared a mistrial for that count. Masterson's defense team filed a motion for a new trial, which was later denied.

During the sentencing hearing, the two women who were victims of Masterson's crimes had the opportunity to deliver impact statements. Their testimonies shed light on the trauma they experienced and the long-lasting effects of the assaults. One of the women expressed her forgiveness towards Masterson, stating that she would no longer bear the burden of his sickness. Another woman criticized Masterson for his lack of remorse and urged the judge to impose a harsh sentence.

Throughout the trial, the Church of Scientology was heavily involved, as Masterson and all three accusers were members of the organization at the time of the crimes. The prosecution argued that Masterson had used his affiliation with Scientology to evade accountability for his actions. The women testified that the church discouraged them from reporting the rapes to the police and subjected them to harassment and intimidation when they came forward.

The church denied these allegations, stating that they have no policy discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct. However, several witnesses testified that Scientology officials pressured them not to speak to law enforcement.

The Church of Scientology is accused of helping actor Danny Masterson "cover up his crimes" after the actor was sentenced to 30 years in prison for two rape convictions. Photo of Los Angeles Church of Scientology by @newcountry x The Big Magazine

Following the sentencing, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon commended the women for their bravery and expressed hope that the sentence would bring them some peace. Gascon also emphasized his commitment to ensuring that Los Angeles is not a hunting ground for those who feel entitled to prey on women.

Masterson's defense team, led by lawyer Shawn Holley, expressed disappointment with the verdict and maintained their belief in his innocence. They plan to appeal the conviction and are confident that they can overturn it with the help of top appellate lawyers.

The case has sparked discussions about the treatment of sexual assault survivors, the influence of powerful institutions, and the importance of holding individuals accountable for their actions.

The testimonies and impact statements from the women involved highlight the long-lasting impact of these crimes and the importance of supporting survivors. Danny Masterson received letters of support from Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher along with 50 other people ahead of his sentencing.

In their letters, published by Los Angeles-based court reporter Meghann Cuniff, the couple vouched for Masterson’s character and pleaded for Judge Charlaine Olmedo’s leniency.

In the letters, Ashton Kutcher says "Danny has been nothing but a positive influencer on me. He is an extraordinarily honest and intentional human being"

While the case has brought attention to the Church of Scientology's alleged role in covering up the assaults, it also serves as a reminder that no one is above the law.

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