Actor Danny Masterson, best known for his role in popular sitcom ‘That 70s show’ has been told by a judge he must stand trial on three counts of rape.
The decision came after several days’ worth of emotional testimony from three separate women who alleged the actor had raped them in 2001 and 2003 at the height of his fame. Masterson has denied the charges.
Masterson will stand charged with the rape of a 23-year old woman in 2001, an attack on a 28-year-old woman in 2003 and another rape on a 23-year-old in the same year.
Masterton is a Scientologist, while all three women were former Scientologists. The teachings of the belief system came up repeatedly in the women’s testimonies.
Charlaine F Olmedo, of the Los Angeles superior county court, found the women’s testimonies credible, including their testimony that the teachings of Scientology prevented them from coming forward for a number of years.
Defending Masterson, his attorney, Thomas Mesereau said his client had consensual sex with the women and that he would prove Masterson’s innocence.
He questioned discrepancies in the women’s testimonies in the years since they were raped.
The 45-year-old actor has been on bail since he was arrested in June of this year. He is now charged with three counts of rape by force or fear and could be facing a jail sentence of up to 45 years if convicted. He is due back in court for an arraignment on June 7.
The actor was written out of the Netflix comedy The Ranch earlier this year when he was accused of sexual assault.
In a statement, Netflix said: “As a result of ongoing discussions, Netflix and the producers have written Danny Masterson out of The Ranch.”