Danny Masterson Jury Foreman Says Accusers’ Changing Stories, ‘Credibility’ Led to Mistrial: ‘Didn’t Pass the Smell Test’

The jury foreman in the rape trial of Danny Masterson said evolving details and other “credibility” issues in his three accusers’ stories ultimately led to a mistrial, while a lack of preparedness from prosecutors and LAPD detectives who testified certainly didn’t help.

But the Church of Scientology, he said, was a nonfactor – as jurors never really concerned themselves with why the three women chose not to immediately report the “That ’70s Show” star to police. The foreman, going only by his first name Earl, spoke candidly on a Thursday episode of “The Sensible Podcast” with host Chris Shelton and Tony Ortega, who writes “The Underground Bunker” blog about Scientology.

Earl said the jury of six men and six women got “heated” during deliberations, but remained civil and took their task seriously, going through all the witness testimony in meticulous detail. He said that while “there were several people on this jury that absolutely wanted [Masterson] to be found guilty,” each of the jurors stuck to his or her convictions, without changing their votes that leaned toward acquittal on each of three counts: 10-2, 8-4 and 7-5.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office must now decide whether to retry Masterson. But a preponderance of factors – now including more insight into what the jury was thinking – would hardly encourage a re-do.

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“It just didn’t pass the smell test for a lot of jurors,” Earl said, speaking specifically of Jane Doe 4, whose testimony was not for a charged crime, but was meant to support the accounts of Jane Does 1, 2 and 3. If the panel had voted on her testimony, Earl said, it would have come out all “not guilties.”

The problem, he said, was that sometime after she said she was forcibly raped, Jane Doe 4 let Masterson come inside when he showed up at his house, took a drink from his whiskey flask – and said she was assaulted again. “We thought a reasonable person would not do that if someone raped you,” Earl said. “You’re not gonna have him come to your house and spend the night and have sex again.”

Another issue was with the testimony of Jane Doe 1, who testified in court that Masterson brandished a gun while he was attacking her at his house. But in two separate previous conversations with an LAPD officer and later a detective, she never mentioned the gun.

“The big big problem for her, credibility-wise, was the gun present in the testimony but not in the early reports,” he said. Jane Doe 1 also told detectives that after the attack she woke up in a closet – but testified in court that she woke up in his bed. “These were the factors that couldn’t be gotten past.”

The jury was also puzzled that Jane Doe 3, a long-term girlfriend of Masterson’s, repeatedly said that her memory was fuzzy, and struggled to give detectives any details about the night she said she woke up to find him penetrating her. But whenever it “helped” the case, her memories suddenly became extremely vivid and detailed.

“One of the jurors said if she’s claiming that all of these things happened, and she gave very meticulous detail, how can she then turn around and say she doesn’t recall or she it’s kind of foggy?” Earl said. “There was some difference of opinion and people were not willing … well, we all listen, but at the end of the day people did not change their mind.”

In the case of Jane Doe 2, Earl said jurors struggled to understand why she would get into bed with Masterson after he had already tried to penetrate her against her will in the shower: “Jurors had an issue with that … Why would you go get in a bed with someone that just raped you if you believe that’s what happened?”

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Prosecutors fought to include Scientology in their case, saying it helped explain the victims’ years-long delays in going to police. Each of the Jane Does, who said they were church members at the time they met Masterson, testified that Scientology threatened to retaliate against them if they reported Masterson, a prominent “upstat” celebrity member of the church. But that made little or no different to the jurors, Earl said.

“We did not talk about Scientology and this [question] of why the delayed reports, or being afraid,” he said. “But when each victim went to report – and they did at different times – we took it from that point we did not hold the church accountable for their practice or non-practice or whatever it was.”

Earl spoke admiringly of defense attorney Phillip Cohen, saying he did a good job of outlining doubts and inconsistencies in the district attorney’s case. He also said Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller and key prosecution witnesses seemed at times to be unprepared.

“We thought that [Mueller] could have done a much better job at presentation,” Earl said, pointing out how LAPD officers and detectives on the stand had to constantly have their memories “refreshed” and had clearly not reviewed reports or transcripts before their testimony.

“We as a jury felt that that [investigators were] not meeting … due diligence as a professional,” he said.

Masterson was formally charged in 2020, but allegations first came to light in 2017 when Ortega reported that detectives were investigating the actor after three women came forward with accusations of rape and assault.

Getting the Jane Does back to the stand will not be a hurdle for prosecutors, as they have vowed to fight on – and have a civil lawsuit pending against Masterson, the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige. Put on hold while Masterson’s criminal trial played out, the suit details allegations of stalking and harassing by Scientology members after the women reported Masterson and left the church.

As a scheduling formality, a March 27 re-trial date was set, with a Jan. 10 status hearing to come first. If prosecutors do decide to try Masterson again, even if they re-frame their case, call more witnesses and get their act together, they have a new, difficult hurdle to overcome: All the inconsistencies that bedeviled the first jury are fair game for the defense to bring up in open court.