Danny Masterson Prosecutor Tells Jurors: ‘Show Him That No Actually Means No’

The prosecutor in the Danny Masterson trial urged the jury on Tuesday to find him guilty of three forcible rapes, and to “show him that ‘no’ actually means ‘no.'”

Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller and defense attorney Philip Cohen gave their closing arguments at the end of a month-long trial.

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Masterson is accused of raping the women between 2001 and 2003, and faces up to 45 years to life in prison if convicted.

“‘No’ never means ‘no’ for Mr. Masterson, not if you’re in his bed, in his house,” Mueller said.

Mueller noted that the “That ’70s Show” actor has appeared every day in court as a “well-dressed, well-groomed gentleman.” But, he said the victims have a much different view of him.

He portrayed Masterson as “entitled” due to his standing within the Church of Scientology. He argued that Masterson disregarded the victims’ wishes and took advantage of them when they were drunk.

“He was the center of this tight group of friends. He was the upstat,” Mueller said, using a Scientology term for a high-status person. “He was the guy who would have the parties at his house. He was the guy who would invite you over to have a drink. He was the guy who would spin a record. And if you got too intoxicated, he would invite you to spend the night, just to be safe. But if you were a young woman… you were far from safe. Because if you were incapacitated in his bed, he would rape you.”

Cohen countered that the accusers’ testimony was riddled with inconsistencies, and that the prosecution was more interested in winning the case than in doing justice.

“They want to win this case so badly that they have ignored…the blatant, obvious, overwhelming contradictions and fabrications that each Jane Doe has given you,” Cohen said.

Cohen also said that the word “Scientology” had come up more than 700 times during the trial. He urged the jury to put aside any bias or sentiment they might have about Masterson or the church, and focus instead on whether the prosecution had met its burden of proof.

“You don’t have to like Mr. Masterson,” Cohen said. “It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to like Scientology. It doesn’t matter. You don’t even have to like me. It doesn’t matter. That’s not the rule of law. That’s the rule of emotion, of sympathy, of pulling on heartstrings.”

Mueller went through each of the three allegations in the case in detail, telling the jury that Masterson was guilty of forcibly raping each of the victims. He also sought to explain why the victims did not immediately report Masterson to the authorities, and why some did not initially consider the assaults to have been rapes.

“Nobody wants to be a victim of rape,” Mueller said. “Trying to tell your partner or a good friend that ‘you are a rapist’ and ‘I am a victim of your rape’ — that’s a hard thing. That’s not easy.”

He said it was made harder by the Church of Scientology, which he alleged discouraged the women from coming forward. Mueller referred to church counseling that left Christina B., one of the accusers, feeling like she had “pulled in” the assault — meaning she was somehow responsible for it.

Mueller said the message she received was, “You’ve done something in your life to bring this in to you. You look to yourself, girl. Don’t go looking at this guy. Look to yourself. It’s your fault.”

He also recalled that one of the accusers, Jane Doe #1, had testified that she was threatened with excommunication and with being declared a “suppressive person” if she went to the police.

Jane Doe #1 wrote a letter to the church’s International Justice Chief in 2004 seeking permission to report Masterson to the police. In response, she received a letter referring her to church policies on suppressive persons.

“The response she got,” Mueller said, “is basically telling her she needs to make her decision carefully, but if she goes to law enforcement, she’s going to be in violation of this policy.”

Cohen objected to that characterization, but was overruled.

The women have all since left the church, and have filed a civil lawsuit alleging that they have been targeted for harassment and intimidation for going to the police.

“There are no charges against Scientology but you can’t avoid it,” Mueller argued. “These are victims that have had this church as part of their life. They follow this religion. They believe it, and they follow its principles.”

In his argument, Cohen said that Scientology was trotted out to explain away inconsistencies in the women’s statements.

“We’ve heard Scientology over and over and over again – so much so it became the go-to excuse,” Cohen said. “When someone didn’t remember something or someone got contradicted, it became about Scientology.”

Cohen also argued that the prosecution’s image of Masterson as a “monster” who was domineering and aggressive did not line up with the accusers’ subsequent behavior. He noted that Christina B. had consensual sex on two occasions with Masterson after they stopped dating, and brought up emails and friendly messages that others had sent.

Cohen also noted that Jane Doe #1 testified that Masterson brandished a gun during the alleged rape in April 2003, but that detail did not appear in her initial reports to the Church of Scientology and to law enforcement. And he showed a photo of Jane Doe #1 taken during a trip to Florida just after the alleged rape, in which she is smiling and dressed in a bikini. He argued that was inconsistent with her claim that she was still in severe pain from the rape.

Mueller gave a brief rebuttal following Cohen’s argument, and the case was turned over to the jury for deliberations.

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