Actor Danny Masterson has been ordered to stand trial by a judge on three rape charges that were brought against him in June 2020.
Charlaine F. Olmedo, a judge at the Los Angeles County Superior Court, heard the testimonies of Masterson’s three accusers at a preliminary hearing on Friday (May 21). Olmedo decided that the alleged victims’ evidence was credible enough to move ahead with a trial.
In June, the That ‘70s Show actor was arrested for raping a 23-year-old woman in 2001, a 28-year-old woman in April 2003 and a 23-year-old woman between October and December 2003. The actor has denied all charges and entered a plea of not guilty at a hearing in January 2021.
During the latest hearing, Masterson’s lawyers are said to have challenged his accusers over discrepancies in their stories. Associated Press also reports that the lawyers claimed the three women had coordinated their allegations against the star.
One of his attorneys, Thomas Mesereau – who also defended Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby in their sexual misconduct cases – suggested that police, prosecutors and witnesses were biased against Masterson because he is a member of the Church Of Scientology. All of his accusers are former Scientologists.
Attorney Sharon Applebaum, who is also defending Masterson, claimed that the accusers had formed a “sisterhood” that “seems to want to take down Mr Masterson and take down Scientology”. “Over time their stories are becoming more similar to one another,” she argued. “They’re taking the language of one another.”
However, Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller, working for the prosecution, claimed the three women’s accounts were “anything but” coordinated. “These were not rehearsed statements,” he alleged. “They were heartfelt, and they each had their versions of what happened. If there is any consistency in these statements, it was because the defendant was consistent in these acts.”
The women have also filed a lawsuit against Masterson over the allegations, which the prosecution said was filed to stop the Church Of Scientology from harassing them since they made their claims public. The church has denied all allegations made against it.
Masterson has been free on bail since being arrested last June. He will return to court on June 7 to be given a new arraignment. If he is convicted when the charges go to trial, he could face a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in prison.