Danny Masterson: That 70s Show actor rape trial explained, why was it declared a mistrial, is there a retrial?

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Masterson previously starred in That ‘70s Show and Netflix comedy The Ranch

Danny Masterson’s rape trial has ended in a mistrial after jurors were “hopelessly deadlocked” over a verdict.

The 46-year-old actor who is best known for his roles on That ‘70s Show and Netflix comedy The Ranch had been accused of raping three women at his home in the Hollywood Hills in the early 2000s.

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Masterson is a member of the Church of Scientology, with his accusers previously being members of the church and stating they delayed reporting the alleged assaults due to fears of reprisals.

In a statement the district attorney’s office thanked the jurors for their service and gave their “heartfelt appreciation to the victims for bravely stepping forward and recounting their harrowing experiences.”

So why did the rape trial end in a mistrial and will there be a retrial? Here’s everything you need to know.

Who is Danny Masterson?

Daniel Peter Masterson is an American actor who is best known for playing the role of Steven Hyde on That ‘70s Show, alongside Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. He has also worked on Netflix comedy The Ranch playing Jameson “Rooster” Bennett alongside Kutcher, but was written out of the series after it was confirmed police were investigating him. The 46-year-old is a member of the Church of Scientology and is married to American actress Bijou Lilly Phillips who is best known for her recurring role of Lucy Carlyle on the Emmy-nominated series Raising Hope.

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Danny Masterson being arraigned on September 18, 2020 (Photo: Getty Images)Danny Masterson being arraigned on September 18, 2020 (Photo: Getty Images)
Danny Masterson being arraigned on September 18, 2020 (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

What has he been accused of?

Masterson has been accused of raping three women and a former girlfiend between 2001 and 2003 at his home in the Hollywood Hills. The accusers are former members of the Church of Scientology who said they delayed reporting as they feared reprisals from church officials.

One of the accusers who was the actor’s former girlfriend accused him of raping her while she was sleeping in 2001 and that he slapped her face and spit on her when she awoke and tried to make him stop. Whilst the other two women accuse him of assaulting them in his jacuzzi.

Reported by the Los Angeles Times, a statement issued by one of Masterson’s accusers said: “I was a Scientologist and Mr. Masterson is a Scientologist, and you cannot report another Scientologist in good standing to the authorities. My life would be over. My parents would have to disconnect from me. … I couldn’t talk to any of my friends ever again. … I wouldn’t have anywhere to work or live.”

Masterson has denied the allegations against him.

What happened in the trial?

Masterson did not testify in the trial, with his attorney Philip Cohen focusing on inconsistencies in the testimony. Reported by Associated Press, During his closing argument Cohen said: “The key to this case is not when they reported it.” Adding: “It’s what they said when they reported it. What they said after they reported it. And what they said at trial.”

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Whilst deputy district attorney Reinhold Mueller argued Masterson was a man “for whom ‘no’ never meant ‘no.’”

Why was it declared a mistrial?

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo has declared a mistrial after jurors were “hopelessly deadlocked”. They were first unable to reach an outcome on 18 November and were given time off over Thanksgiving week before being asked to deliver a verdict again. Votes took place seven times on Tuesday (29 November) and Wednesday (30 November) but no result could be reached.

Reported by CNN, the district attorney’s office said in a statement: “While we are disappointed with the outcome in this trial, we thank the jurors for their service.” Adding: “We also want to give our heartfelt appreciation to the victims for bravely stepping forward and recounting their harrowing experiences.”

Will there be a retrial?

A retrial of the case is scheduled to be held in March.

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