Danny Masterson Declines to Testify in Rape Trial as Final Attempt to Dismiss Case Is Denied

danny-materson-trial-continues - Credit: Lucy Nicholson/Pool/Getty Images
danny-materson-trial-continues - Credit: Lucy Nicholson/Pool/Getty Images

Danny Masterson has opted not to testify in his ongoing rape trial, he told the court in downtown Los Angeles Monday morning.

The That ’70s Show star has been charged with three counts of forceable rape dating from 2001 to 2003. He has denied the allegations and faces 45 years to life in prison if convicted. Masterson’s decision not to testify follows weeks of intense testimonies from the three women attached to the rape charges, and from a fourth woman (Ghost Dog actress Tricia Vessey) who also alleged that Masterson raped her, although Vessey’s claims aren’t tied to any of the charges on the case. The women recalled violent incidents in their allegations; one of the anonymous Jane Doe accusers claimed Masterson pulled a handgun out of his bedroom drawer after he’d raped her while she was in and out of consciousness. Another of the accusers, an ex-girlfriend, similarly alleged that she woke up with Masterson forcibly penetrating her, also recalling that Masterson would berate and abuse her if she declined his sexual advances.

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Masterson is a prominent scientologist, and the three Jane Doe accusers tied to the charges are former members of the Church of Scientology. Scientology itself isn’t on trial, but the organization’s practices and policies have been a overarching topic throughout the case. Multiple women claimed in their testimonies that the Church of Scientology tried discouraging them from going to the police with their allegations. In a statement to Rolling Stone, the church called the accusers’ allegations “fabrications.”

The notion that Masterson wouldn’t testify isn’t particularly surprising given that defendants on these sorts of cases often elect not to take the stand, but his decision comes as Kevin Spacey and Paul Haggis testified during their own #MeToo civil cases. (Spacey was found not liable in his civil case in late October, while Haggis lost his case last week.)

Masterson’s attorney Phillip Cohen, who has made several motions for a mistrial throughout the case, motioned for the case to be dismissed Monday, which judge Charlaine Olmedo denied. The people rested their case Monday, and closing arguments are expected to begin on Tuesday.

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