Actor Danny Masterson, charged with raping three women, made his first appearance Friday in a Los Angeles courtroom, where his attorney declared his innocence and denounced the charges against him as “politicized.” The alleged incidents took place between 2001 and 2003.
According to a statement from Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the former “That ’70s Show” star has been charged with raping a 23-year-old woman in 2001, a 28-year-old woman in 2003 and a 23-year-old woman sometime between October and December 2003.
Masterson did not enter a plea, but attorney Tom Mesereau said the charges, based on events nearly 20 years old, were the result of unfair hype from media outlets and pressure to prosecute his client as Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey faces an election.
“There have been repeated attempts to politicize this case,” said Mesereau, who also represented Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson in their sexual misconduct cases. “He is absolutely not guilty and we’re going to prove it.”
Deputy district attorney Reinhold Mueller of the Sex Crimes Division, who is prosecuting the case, said all of the alleged crimes occurred at Masterson’s home in the Hollywood Hills.
If convicted, Masterson faces a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in prison.
The statement also notes that the DA’s Office declined to file sexual assault charges against Masterson in two other cases; one was dropped due to insufficient evidence, while the other had exceeded the statute of limitations.
The alleged victims in the case released a joint statement late Wednesday night addressing Masterson’s charges.
“Since we were victimized and raped by Danny Masterson—and knowing we are not the only victims—all we have wanted was justice, accountability and truth,” they wrote.
4. Statement from the women who have accused Danny Masterson of rape sent by their attorney.
I can't stress enough how much these women have been through over the past two decades, Scientology has tried to destroy them. pic.twitter.com/Ywt8C6lHpL
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 18, 2020
Masterson’s criminal defence attorney Mesereau previously issued a statement. “Mr. Masterson is innocent, and we’re confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify,” said Mesereau.
“Obviously, Mr. Masterson and his wife are in complete shock considering that these nearly 20-year-old allegations are suddenly resulting in charges being filed, but they and their family are comforted knowing that ultimately the truth will come out,” the statement concluded. “The people who know Mr. Masterson know his character and know the allegations to be false.”
Allegations of sexual assault were first raised against Masterson in 2017. At the time, a rep for Masterson — who is a Scientologist — told the Times that the “false allegations” were made as a way to boost ratings of a television series that featured former Scientologists sharing their experiences with the church, alleging that one of Masterson’s accusers “only came forward after speaking with one of the show’s producers.
The show the rep was referring to was “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath”, and the A&E reality show’s namesake responded to the charges against Masterson.
“This is just the beginning Scientology, your days of getting away with it is coming to an end!” she wrote on Twitter.
Finally, victims are being heard when it comes to Scientology! Praise the lord! This is just the beginning Scientology, your days of getting away with it is coming to an end! #justice #scientologytheaftermath https://t.co/oAFlIoWFYd
— Leah Remini (@LeahRemini) June 17, 2020
With Files From Associated Press