In a high-profile legal case, the famed US actor Danny Masterson has been handed a 30 years to life sentence for raping two women. Masterson, known for his pivotal role in the hit TV series That '70s Show, committed these heinous acts during its prime airtime in the early 2000s.
The prosecution effectively argued that the 47-year-old actor leveraged his standing as a high-profile Scientologist to evade responsibility. Judge Charlaine Olmedo permitted the victims to present their heart-wrenching impact statements during the trial.
Remini Supports Victims at Sentencing
Leah Remini, a well-known actress and former Scientologist, was present at Thursday's sentencing. She provided solace to the victims both pre and post their statements. Emotionally charged moments continued as one victim expressed regret for not alerting the police sooner, while another forgave Masterson, stating, "Your sickness is no longer mine to bear." The courtroom observed Masterson remaining silent and composed, but emotions flared as his wife, Bijou Phillips, broke down upon hearing the verdict.
In an earlier twist, Masterson's initial trial in 2022 ended in a deadlock. However, a re-trial in May found him guilty. Post-conviction, given the potential risk of him fleeing, he was incarcerated. Trials witnessed testimonies from three women accusing him of sexual assault at his Hollywood residence during 2001-03, a period marking his peak in stardom.
Evidence highlighted Masterson's drugging of the victims preceding the assaults. Although found guilty for two cases, charges related to the third were declared a mistrial, with no further plans for prosecution. Alison Anderson, attorney for two victims, lauded their bravery.
She highlighted their resilience against "harassment, obstruction, and intimidation", emphasizing their determination to expose the alleged involvement of the Church of Scientology in their ordeal. Numerous victims claimed they experienced shunning and harassment from church members, further emphasizing the challenges they faced.
Masterson's accusations first emerged amidst the #MeToo movement in 2017, which he had refuted, asserting the consensuality of the encounters. Throughout the lengthy judicial process, the Church of Scientology faced allegations of concealing the assaults, a claim they vehemently denied.
While the church's involvement remains controversial, Masterson's sentencing remains a potent symbol of justice served. Prominent advocates like Jessica Barth, founder of Voices in Action and an accuser of Hollywood magnate Harvey Weinstein, attended the hearing, further highlighting the broader implications of this case in the continuing fight against sexual abuse in the entertainment industry.