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A mistrial has been declared in actor Danny Masterson's rape trial

A mistrial has been declared in actor Danny Masterson’s rape trial

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge declared a mistrial on Wednesday after jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked in the trial of ‘That ’70s Show’ actor Danny Masterson.accused of three rapes.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo had ordered jurors to take the week off Thanksgiving and continue deliberating after telling her on November 18 that they could not reach a consensus on the allegations. of rape after a month-long trial in which the Church of Scientology played a supporting role.

Masterson, 46, was charged with the rape of three women, including a former girlfriend, at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003. He pleaded not guilty and his attorney said the acts were all consensual. All three women were members of the church at the time, and Masterson remains one.

“I find the jurors hopelessly deadlocked,” Judge Charlaine Olmedo said after asking if there was anything the court could do to move them closer to a unanimous decision. She set a March date for a new trial.

Jurors said they voted seven times on Tuesday and Wednesday without reaching a consensus on any of the three counts.

The jury foreman said only two jurors voted to convict the first count, four voted to convict the second count, and five voted to convict the third count.

Jurors were forced to start deliberations from scratch Monday when two had to be fired because they contracted COVID-19. They deliberated for two days but still could not reach any verdicts.

The result was a serious setback for prosecutors and for the three women who said they had long sought justice.

The proceedings unfolded amid a flurry of cases on both coasts with #MeToo overtones, including the Los Angeles trial of Harvey Weinstein just down the hall from Masterson. In New York, Kevin Spacey wins sexual misconduct lawsuit filed by actor Anthony Rapp in New York, and a jury ordered director and screenwriter Paul Haggis to pay $10 million in a civil case there.

But in the Masterson trial, as in the Haggis trial, the #MeToo implications were largely overshadowed by the specter of Scientology, despite the judge’s insistence that the church not become a de facto defendant.

The women, all called Jane Does and all former members of the church, said they were intimidated, harassed and stalked after Masterson was charged. They have repeated these allegations in an ongoing lawsuit against the church.

Masterson’s attorney Philip Cohen said the church was mentioned 700 times during the trial and argued it became an excuse for the prosecution’s failure to build a credible case against Masterson , a prominent Scientologist.

But Assistant District Attorney Reinhold Mueller said the church tried to silence the women and that was why it took two decades for the case to come to trial.

Masterson did not testify. His attorney presented no defense testimony and instead focused on inconsistencies in the accounts of the three accusers, who he said changed their stories over time and spoke to each other before going to court. police.

“The key to this case is not when they reported it,” Cohen said during oral argument. “That’s what they said when they reported it. What they said after reporting it. And what they said at trial.

Mueller argued that Masterson was a man “for whom ‘no’ never meant ‘no'”, as the graphic and emotional testimony of the three accusers shows.

Two women said Masterson served them drinks and they became dizzy or passed out before they were violently raped. One said she thought she was going to die as Masterson held a pillow over her face.

An ex-girlfriend said she woke up to find Masterson having sex with her without her consent. The defense said her claims were undermined because she then had sex with him after they broke up.

Cohen told jurors they could acquit Masterson if they believed he “actually and reasonably believed” the women had consented to sex. Mueller countered that no one would believe the acts described were consensual, reminding jurors that a woman had repeatedly told him “no”, pulled his hair and tried to pull away from him.

Mueller told jurors not to be swayed by defense speculation and said contradictions in victims’ testimony were signs of authenticity as opposed to accounts that had been scripted.

The accusations date back to a period when Masterson was at the height of his fame, starring from 1998 to 2006 as Steven Hyde on Fox’s “That ’70s Show.” The show has stars in Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace and is getting an upcoming Netflix reboot with “That ’90s Show.”

Masterson had reunited with Kutcher in the Netflix comedy “The Ranch,” but was written off the show when an LAPD investigation came to light in December 2017.

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