Danny Masterson to face second trial on sex assault charges

Los Angeles, California - Actor Danny Masterson will face a second trial on sexual assault charges later this year, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Danny Masterson will face a second trial on sexual assault charges after his first resulted in a mistrial.
Danny Masterson will face a second trial on sexual assault charges after his first resulted in a mistrial.  © Anna Webber / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The 47-year-old actor, best known for his role on That '70s Show, was accused of raping and assaulting three fellow members of the Church of Scientology at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003. After hearing weeks of explosive testimony at a trial in November, a jury deadlocked on the charges, causing a mistrial.

Polled afterward, jurors indicated they were leaning heavily toward acquitting Masterson and prosecutors were cagey about whether they would retry him. At a brief court hearing Tuesday morning, they announced they would do so, according to a spokesman for the district attorney’s office.

Also on Tuesday, a motion from Masterson’s lawyers to dismiss all charges was denied. Jury selection in the second trial is scheduled to begin March 29.

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Masterson’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment. The actor has denied all wrongdoing.

Each of the alleged victims in the case testified they met Masterson through their involvement in Scientology, and two said they delayed reporting the alleged assaults out of fear the church would punish them for turning a church member in to police.

Danny Masterson's first trial brought Scientology's rules to light

Danny Masterson's first trial highlighted the arcane rules of Scientology.
Danny Masterson's first trial highlighted the arcane rules of Scientology.  © LUCY NICHOLSON / POOL / AFP

One of the victims claimed she became seriously ill after consuming a beverage offered by Masterson, who then allegedly assaulted her in a bathroom at his home. She also claimed he brandished a handgun during the assault.

At points in the first trial, prosecutors delved into the church’s arcane rules, suggesting the women could have been declared "suppressive" persons and cut off from their relatives in the church if they spoke out against Masterson.

"I was a Scientologist and Mr. Masterson is a Scientologist, and you cannot report another Scientologist in good standing to the authorities," testified one victim, who was identified at the trial as Jen B. "My life would be over. My parents would have to disconnect from me ... I couldn’t talk to any of my friends ever again. ... I wouldn’t have anywhere to work or live."

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Through a spokeswoman, Scientology officials scoffed at the religion’s doctrine being referenced at trial and complained that references to Masterson’s faith in the case were displays of bias against their religion.

They also roundly rejected the victims’ claims that Scientology’s rules prevented them from cooperating with police.

Cover photo: Anna Webber / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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