Danny Masterson's arraignment on multiple rape charges postponed again

Maria Puente, USA TODAY
·3 min read

Danny Masterson, the actor best known for "That '70s Show" and Netflix's "The Ranch," was supposed to be arraigned Wednesday in Los Angeles on charges of forcibly raping three women, but the proceeding was continued to Jan. 20 – the second postponement since his arrest this summer.

More than three years after Los Angeles police first began investigating Masterson in connection with decades-old allegations of sexual assault, and seven months after his arrest on charges, Masterson, 44, was expected to enter a plea of not guilty.

He has denied all allegations and charges against him since they first surfaced publicly in 2017.

His arraignment, originally set for September, was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. It was not clear why it was delayed again, nor was it clear what was discussed at Wednesday's hearing.

Danny Masterson has been charged with forcibly raping three women in separate incidents between 2001 and 2003, Los Angeles prosecutors announced in June 2020.
Danny Masterson has been charged with forcibly raping three women in separate incidents between 2001 and 2003, Los Angeles prosecutors announced in June 2020.

Masterson's defense lawyer, Tom Mesereau, did not respond USA TODAY's requests for comment.

"Generally speaking, arraignments get continued frequently," said Greg Risling, a spokesman for Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, in an email to USA TODAY.

Masterson was arrested on the charges in June and freed on bail. He made his first court appearance in September, standing in court in a blue suit and face mask next to his attorneys, led by Mesereau, who has represented multiple celebrities in criminal trouble.

Masterson's accusers were in court for the September hearing but did not speak to reporters. Two have come forward publicly, Chrissie Carnell Bixler and Bobette Riales, and one remains anonymous.

Masterson did not enter a plea in September. Mesereau said the charges were the result of unfair hype from media outlets and pressure to prosecute his client as then-District Attorney Jackie Lacey faced re-election. She subsequently lost.

Masterson is charged with three counts of rape by force or fear. He is accused of raping a 23-year-old woman at his Hollywood Hills home between January and December 2001, according to prosecutors. He is also accused of raping a 28-year-old woman in April 2003, as well as a 23-year-old woman he had invited to his home sometime between October and December of 2003.

Danny Masterson, left, with his attorney, Tom Mesereau, in court in Los Angeles on Sept. 18, 2020.
Danny Masterson, left, with his attorney, Tom Mesereau, in court in Los Angeles on Sept. 18, 2020.

The alleged rapes occurred at the height of Masterson’s fame as he starred on the retro sitcom “That ’70s Show” alongside Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace. The series ran on Fox TV from 1998 to 2006 and has had a long afterlife in reruns.

He also starred with Kutcher on the Netflix western sitcom “The Ranch” when Los Angeles police confirmed in March 2017 he was under investigation. Later that year, after allegations against Harvey Weinstein shook Hollywood’s culture and revved up the #MeToo movement, he was fired and written off the show.

Meanwhile, Masterson also faces a 2019 civil lawsuit from four women, including his accusers in the criminal case, who assert that Masterson and the Church of Scientology engaged in stalking, physical invasion of privacy and a conspiracy to obstruct justice, among other allegations.

Last week, a Los Angeles judge ruled the lawsuit must be settled in mediation within the Church of Scientology since an arbitration agreement already exists among the parties that compels disputes to be handled by the Church of Scientology.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Danny Masterson: Arraignment on rape charges postponed again