Actor Danny Masterson used drugs, Scientology to get away with raping women, prosecutor tells jury

May 15, 2023, 9:53 PM | Updated: May 16, 2023, 1:36 pm

FILE - Danny Masterson appears at the CMT Music Awards in Nashville, Tenn. on June 7, 2017. Closing...

FILE - Danny Masterson appears at the CMT Music Awards in Nashville, Tenn. on June 7, 2017. Closing arguments are expected to begin Tuesday at the second rape trial of the “That ’70s Show” actor. Masterson is charged with the rape of three women at his Los Angeles home between 2001 and 2003. (Photo by Wade Payne/Invision/AP, File)
Credit: Wade Payne/Invision/AP

(Photo by Wade Payne/Invision/AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Danny Masterson drugged women’s drinks so he could rape them, then relied on his prominence in the Church of Scientology to avoid consequences for years, a prosecutor told jurors Tuesday in closing arguments at the actor’s trial.

“The defendant drugs his victims to gain control. He does this to take away his victims’ ability to consent,” Deputy District Attorney Ariel Anson told the jury of seven men and five women. “You don’t want to have sex? You don’t have a choice. The defendant makes that choice for these victims. And he does it over and over and over again.”

The 47-year-old former star of “That ’70s Show” is on rape trial for a second time after the first ended in a mistrial in December, with a jury hopelessly deadlocked on all counts.

Masterson has pleaded not guilty to raping three women at his home between 2001 and 2003. His attorney, Philip Cohen, who briefly began his own closing and will continue in the afternoon, told jurors that inconsistencies in the women’s stories that he said Anson downplayed are important for the jury to consider.

“She did a very nice job of ignoring many of them,” Cohen said. “What she views as little inconsistencies are at the heart of trying to determine, ‘Is somebody, reliable, credible, believable enough for a criminal conviction?’”

Anson took aim at the Church of Scientology, of which Masterson is a member and all three women are former members, throughout her argument, emphasizing that church authorities kept the women from accepting what had happened to them and from reporting it to police for years.

“The church taught his victims, ‘Rape isn’t rape, you caused this, and above all, you are never allowed to go to law enforcement,’” she said. “In Scientology, the defendant is a celebrity and he is untouchable.”

The church has denied having any policy discouraging members from going to law enforcement.

Actor Leah Remini, a former member of the church who has become one of its most prominent public opponents, sat in the courtroom, her arm around one of the accusers, who testified during both trials that Masterson raped her in 2003.

Anson guided jurors through the testimonies of all three women. One is a former girlfriend who said Masterson raped her five years into their relationship in 2001. The two others are women he knew through social circles surrounding the church.

All testified that they became unusually groggy and had gaps in consciousness and memory after consuming drinks Masterson gave them. Judge Charlaine Olmedo allowed the prosecution during the second trial to directly say he drugged the women, after only allowing descriptions of their states at the first.

There is no physical evidence of any drugging. The investigation that led to Masterson’s arrest did not begin for about 15 years after the women say they were raped. Anson told jurors the women’s accounts and the testimony of a police toxicology expert who described symptoms should be enough.

“We ask that you hold the defendant accountable,” she said, “that you find him guilty.”

Fewer than half of jurors voted to convict Masterson on any count after the first trial.

Attorneys for both sides rested their cases Friday, three weeks into the second trial. Masterson’s defense attorneys declined to call any witnesses.

His attorney emphasized Tuesday that jurors must find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, saying that even if they believe it is likely he is guilty, they must acquit.

“If you say, ‘I think he is probably guilty,’ you know what that leads to?” Cohen said, then made a buzzer sound. “Not guilty.”

___

Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton

National News

FILE - A house burns on Platina Road at the Zogg Fire near Ono, Calif., on Sept. 27, 2020. A Northe...

Associated Press

California judge dismisses criminal charges against PG&E in 2020 fatal fire

REDDING, Calif. (AP) — A California judge on Wednesday dismissed all charges against Pacific Gas & Electric in connection to a 2020 fatal wildfire sparked by its equipment that destroyed hundreds of homes and killed four people, including an 8-year-old child. The utility also reached a $50 million settlement agreement with the Shasta County District […]

19 hours ago

This booking image provided by Adams County, Illl., administration, shows Timothy Bliefnick of Quin...

Associated Press

Former ‘Family Feud’ contestant Timothy Bliefnick guilty in wife’s slaying

QUINCY, Ill. (AP) — A jury Wednesday convicted a former contestant on the television game show “Family Feud” of first-degree murder and home invasion in the slaying of his estranged wife in western Illinois. Timothy Bliefnick, 40, was found guilty in the Feb. 23 shooting death of Rebecca Bliefnick. The Adams County Circuit Court jury […]

19 hours ago

FILE - The Utah Capitol is shown on March 3, 2023, in Salt Lake City. Attorneys representing adult ...

Associated Press

Adult filmmakers ask judge to delay Utah law requiring porn sites verify user ages

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Attorneys representing adult entertainers, erotica authors and sex educators on Wednesday asked a judge to put on hold a Utah law requiring porn and other adult websites verify user ages. The Free Speech Coalition and its co-plaintiffs argued the new state law violates their clients’ First Amendment rights and intrudes […]

19 hours ago

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, center, jokes around with forwards Vlatko Cancar, left, and Jef...

Associated Press

Betting interest expected to be down with NBA, NHL finals lacking marquee matchups

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The NBA Finals could’ve featured glamour teams like the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, and conventional thinking before the NHL playoffs stated the dominant Boston Bruins and star-studded Edmonton Oilers were on a near-collision course to meet in the Stanley Cup Final. All four teams are out, and what could’ve […]

19 hours ago

Associated Press

Federal Reserve likely to skip interest rate hike at next meeting in June, officials signal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Leading Federal Reserve officials are sending out stronger signals that they will forego an interest rate increase at the central bank’s next meeting in June, though they indicate hikes could resume later this year. “Skipping a rate hike at a coming meeting would allow (Fed policymakers) to see more data before making […]

19 hours ago

Associated Press

Arizona governor urging Biden to designate tribally proposed monument at Grand Canyon

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs is urging President Joe Biden to use the Antiquities Act to designate the tribally proposed Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument. In a letter dated Tuesday, Hobbs told Biden that she is committed to preserving cultural and natural treasures throughout Arizona and said the Grand Canyon […]

19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Actor Danny Masterson used drugs, Scientology to get away with raping women, prosecutor tells jury