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Six months after Danny Masterson's rape trial was declared a mistrial, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury found the disgraced actor guilty of forcibly raping two women in separate incidents, in a subsequent retrial.
The That '70s Show star was convicted of two out of three counts of rape on Wednesday, two weeks after closing arguments ended, according to Los Angeles Times reporter James Queally present at the trial. The jury was deadlocked on a third count.
"We want to express our gratitude to the three women who came forward and bravely shared their experiences. Their courage and strength have been an inspiration to us all," Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement following the verdict. "While we are disappointed that the jury did not convict on all counts, we respect their decision. The verdicts handed down by the jury in this case were undoubtedly a difficult one to reach and we thank the jurors for their service."
The verdict comes almost three years after Masterson was charged in June 2020 with "forcibly raping three women in separate incidents occurring between 2001 and 2003."
Michael Tullberg/Getty Danny Masterson
The actor, who pleaded not guilty and has denied all of the allegations against him, did not testify at the retrial. He faces up to 45 years in prison.
Masterson's wife, actress Bijou Phillips, reportedly let out a cry in the courtroom shortly after the verdict was read, according to the L.A. Times.
Masterson's first rape trial ended in a mistrial on Nov. 30, 2022 after the jury was unable to reach a consensus on the three counts after more than seven attempts — and a week-long recess for Thanksgiving — to secure a verdict. The case became even more complicated after two jurors tested positive for COVID-19 and had to be subsequently replaced.
During the new trial, Deputy District Attorney Ariel Anson told the jury that Masterson drugged his victims and used being a member of the Church of Scientology as a way to escape the consequences of his actions, per the Associated Press. "You don't want to have sex? You don't have a choice," Anson said. "The defendant makes that choice for these victims. And he does it over and over and over again."
Conversely, Masterson's lawyer Philip Cohen pointed to the inconsistencies within the women's testimonies and the lack of drugging evidence, per the outlet. "Miss Anson presented a case as if she was arguing a drugging case," he said. "Maybe it's because there is no evidence of force or violence."
Although the judge explained that the Church of Scientology was not on trial, the organization still loomed heavily over the case. All three women, as well as Masterson, were members of the church when the alleged assaults took place and claimed that they were intimidated, harassed, and stalked after Masterson was charged. Their civil lawsuit against the church and Masterson is still pending.
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