Why Former That '70s Show Star Danny Masterson Is Back On Trial Again After First Rape Case

 Danny Masterson on That '70s Show
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Noted actor Danny Masterson was charged with three counts of rape back in 2020 and ultimately went on trial in October 2022. From there, the case progressed and saw a number of notable developments, including a surprising testimony from a friend of one of Masterson’s accusers. Ultimately though, a mistrial was declared in November, and it was later confirmed that there would be a retrial this year. Now, that all parties are officially set to return to the courtroom, and we have the details as to exactly why a second round of legal proceedings is happening.

Why Is Danny Masterson’s Rape Case Being Heard Again?

This second case is the result of the jury’s deliberation during the first time around, as noted by Variety. The jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict but, more specifically, they couldn’t reach a consensus on all three counts. It’s worth noting that the final roster included a pair of alternates because two of the original 12 jurors tested positive for COVID. Because they were “hopelessly deadlocked,” Judge Charlaine Olmedo declared the mistrial, and the date for the new trial was initially set for March 27. The That ‘70s Show actor is currently facing the same three charges and, if found guilty, he could serve 45 years to life in state prison.

The charges against the star come from three Jane Does, all of whom accuse him of forcibly raping them between 2001 and 2003. When it came to the first count, the jury voted 10-2 towards acquittal, with the two being 8-4 and 7-5 in that same direction. Danny Masterson’s lawyer, Mark Cohen (who requested a mistrial multiple times throughout the case sought a complete dismissal after the hung jury. However, Judge Olmedo denied the request. Upon the decision, two of the accusers spoke out, saying that they were “pleased” that Masterson would “not be permitted to simply escape criminal accountability.”

How Will This Second Trial Compare To The First?

This new trial will reportedly be conducted in a fashion that’s very similar to the last one. According to Variety, a key difference, however, is that new corroborating and expert witnesses are to be brought in. It’s also said that another woman could testify as a “prior bad acts” witness, which is an uncharged individual who speaks in order to attest to negative behavior patterns. All in all, the prosecution reportedly wants to utilize more testimonies in order to emphasize how one’s memory can be affected by drugs and alcohol.

On the other side of the equation, Mark Cohen stated that the defense’s witness list is “basically the same as the last one.” So with that, it seems very likely that once again, Masterson will choose not to take the stand himself. Cohen and his team seem to have been strongly opposed to the notion of another trial, as they believe that with the same evidence involved, a new jury would also end up deadlocked. Speaking of which, 200 potential jurors are being interviewed before the final 12 are selected. There are also set to be eight alternates in place.

When it comes to this case, one also has to consider just how heavily Scientology will factor into the matter. The Ranch actor is a member of the church, and the women who’ve accused him of sexual assault were as well at the time that the alleged encounters took place. The polarizing religion’s impact on the case is a major reason why Judge Olmedo wasn't happy with the opening statements. To that point, the legal official stated early on that the trial was “not going to be inundated with Scientology.”

Testimonies in Danny Masterson’s latest case will start being heard on Monday, April 24. It’s hard to say how long all parties will remain in the courtroom but, the judge says that it won’t last as long as the first.