That 70’s Show star Danny Masterson pleaded not guilty to charges that he raped three women between 2001 and 2003.
The 45-year-old actor, who played Steven Hyde in the hit comedy show, reiterated his not-guilty plea in a California court on Monday, CBS Los Angeles reported, after previously doing so in January. Masterson is free on $3.3 million bail.
This comes after he was arrested by Los Angeles police in June 2020 and has since surrendered his passport.
The defendant is accused of raping two 23-year-olds and a 28-year-old. Judge Charlaine Olmedo of the Los Angeles Superior Court found the womens’ and Masterson’s memberships in the Church of Scientology justified their delay in reporting the alleged assaults to police, as the group discourages police involvement in conflict between members.
“I found all three witnesses to be credible and the evidence sufficient to support the charges,” Olmedo said on May 21, ordering Masterson to appear for a June 7 arraignment.
One woman said that in April 2003, Masterson gave her a drink mixed with vodka and drugs.
“I came to, and he was on top of me, and he was inside of me,” she said, adding that she tried to fight him off, but he brandished a pistol.
The District Attorney’s Office has declined to file charges in two other alleged sexual assault incidents involving Masterson, citing a lack of evidence and the statute of limitations in such matters.
The women all claim they have been severely harassed by the church after going public with their accusations.
They have attempted to sue Masterson and the Church of Scientology for the alleged offenses but have faced a major obstacle: Arbitration agreements. When joining the Church of Scientology, members are required to sign an agreement that says they will not sue the church; rather, they’ll resolve disputes via a church-appointed panel.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Steven Kleifield ruled that the women would have to go through the arbitration process before seeking trial. On May 26, the California Supreme Court directed the lower courts to reconsider the matter, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“The courts in this case are being asked to enforce religious retribution against individuals who were raped and who have rejected the faith,” the plaintiff’s attorney Marci Hamilton said in an appeal to the court.
In December 2017, Netflix announced the actor had been let go from the cast of The Ranch, in which he played the brother of That 70’s Show co-star Ashton Kutcher, amid allegations of sexual assault.
“In the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused,” Masterson said in a statement in 2017.
A pretrial hearing in the criminal case has been scheduled for Aug. 9, according to Fox News.
Author : Haley Victory Smith