The ‘That ’70s Show’ star Danny Masterson was given a 30-year prison term for raping two women in the past.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlene F. Olmedo handed down the sentence on Thursday after hearing statements from the women about the trauma they experienced due to the assaults and subsequent years of harassment by Masterson, who is now 47 years
Masterson, clad in a suit, sat in court during the sentencing. He remained silent as the women spoke without any clear response.
One of the women who accused Masterson of rape in 2003 said, ‘When you raped me, you stole from me.’ ‘Rape is the theft of the soul.’
She continued, ‘You are pitiable, disturbed, and entirely violent. The world is better off with you in jail.’
The other woman who found Masterson guilty of rape said, ‘He has shown no remorse for the pain he caused.’ She told the judge, ‘I knew he was behind bars for all those women he came into contact with. I deeply regret not reporting him to the police sooner.’
December saw initial trials in three rape cases that failed to reach a verdict, and after being declared a mistrial, prosecutors brought charges against Masterson again in all three cases earlier this year.
This time, a jury of seven women and five men deliberated for seven days before finding Masterson guilty in two of the cases on May 31st. Both assaults occurred in 2003 at Masterson’s Hollywood-area home when he was at the height of his fame on the Fox Network sitcom ‘That ’70s Show.’
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They couldn’t reach a verdict on the third count, and it’s alleged that Masterson had also raped his girlfriend over an extended period. They voted 8-4 in favor of the prosecution.
After a failed bid to dismiss the case for a new trial, the actor was sentenced by the judge, following a prior hearing on Thursday. The defense had requested that the sentences for both convictions be served concurrently and sought a sentence ranging from 15 years to life in prison. The prosecution had sought a full 30 years to life in prison, for which Masterson was eligible.
Masterson’s lawyer, Shawn Holley, told the judge before the sentencing, ‘The decision you make today will have a profound impact on his life.’ ‘And on the life of his 9-year-old daughter, who is his world and for whom he is the world.’
Holley said, ‘He has led an exemplary life, being an extraordinary father, husband, brother, son, coworker, and community servant.’
Prosecutors alleged that after the assaults, Masterson used his prominence within the Church of Scientology to avoid consequences for years – with all three women being members at the time.
The women alleged that they faced retaliation from the church when they went to the police with their allegations, including warnings against reporting the high-ranking member to law enforcement.
The church said in a statement after the verdict that its policies ‘do not prevent members from reporting criminal conduct, whether scientific or otherwise, to law enforcement.’
The defense argued that the acts were consensual and sought to undermine the women’s stories by highlighting changes and discrepancies over time, which they claimed indicated a lack of credibility. This issue could be a factor in Masterson’s appeal of his sentence.
People who claim they were sexually assaulted are often not named by The Associated Press.
Masterson acted in ‘That ’70s Show’ from 1998 to 2006, alongside Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Topher Grace.
He reunited with Kutcher in the 2016 Netflix comedy ‘The Ranch,’ but he was fired from the show the following year after the Los Angeles Police Department’s investigation became public.
While she began her investigation into allegations about Harvey Weinstein in October 2017, before the wave of women’s stories shook Hollywood, Masterson’s sentencing still represents a major success for Los Angeles prosecutors and follows Weinstein’s own sentencing last year.”