Grand jury in Los Angeles convict American actor Danny Masterson, faces 30 years in prison

American actor Danny Masterson has been found guilty of two of three counts of rape by grand jury in Los Angeles, The Show star faces 30 years in prison. He was led out of the courthouse in handcuffs.

Three women, all former members of the Church of Scientology, have accused the actor of sexual assault at his Hollywood home between 2001 and 2003. Prosecutors argued that Masterson relied on his status as a prominent  Scientist to evade accountability.

The jury of seven women and five men was unable to decide on a third number after a week of deliberation, ending the stalemate 8-4.

One of his victims, who was raped in 2003, said in a statement quoted by the Associated Press: “I felt a range of emotions – relief, exhaustion, strength, upset – knowing that my attacker, Danny Masterson, will be held accountable for his offense.”

CBS News reported that Masterson’s wife, actress and model, Bijou Phillips, cried as he was taken away. Other family members and friends sat with serious faces. Another jury from a previous trial was unable to reach a verdict in December 2022.

Prosecutors chose to try Masterson again, and this time the judge who allowed the attorneys to present new evidence was excluded from the first trial. Whiles he was not charged with drugging his victims, the jury heard testimony that the women were drugged before he raped them.

In 2017 Masterson was accused of rape at the height of the #MeToo movement. He responded by saying he was not charged or convicted, and in the context of the times “it seems like you’re found guilty as soon as you’re accused”.

A three-year investigation by Los Angeles Police Department of which he was charge, In two other cases, the prosecutor did not prosecute due to insufficient evidence and the expiration of the statute of limitations for prosecution. Prosecutors argued that the Church of Scientology helped cover up the attacks during the trial – an allegation the organization categorically denied.

In a statement after the ruling was announced, the International Church of Scientology said the attacks by prosecutors on the Church during the trial were “an unprecedented violation of the First Amendment.” first.”

“The church is not a party to this case and religion has no place in this case,” the organization wrote on Twitter. “The district attorney inappropriately focused the prosecution on the defendant’s religion.”

At the time of the attack, Masterson and his three accusers were Scientist. Church of Scientology officials discouraged some women from reporting the rape to the police and it took them years to move on. Instead, they were forced to follow the church’s “internal justice system,” prosecutors said.

Scientology officials have told one survivor she will be expelled from the Church unless she signs a non-disclosure agreement and accepts a payment of $400,000 (£320,000), according to the public prosecutor.
Judge Charlaine Olmedo allowed both sides to discuss the dogma and practice of Scientology.

But Assistant District Attorney Ariel Anson told jurors at the trial: “The Church has taught its victims that ‘Rape is not rape, you do it, and more importantly, you don’t. never be allowed to surrender to law enforcement.'”

In its statement, the Church said “there is no evidence to support the outrageous allegations that the Church has harassed accusers. “Throughout the trial, the defense attempted to discredit “Jane Does” by highlighting  inconsistencies in their testimony and their alleged desire to “revenge” their former Church. In the final argument,

Masterson’s defense attorney said of the survivors, “If you’re looking for reasons why people don’t tell the truth… then there are reasons all over the place.”

Although the Church of Scientology was not charged in the case, before starting the final argument, an attorney with ties to the Church emailed the district attorney’s office complaining about how the Church was being represented at the court retrial.

The defense also argued that the prosecution relied primarily on drug testimony because there was no evidence of force or violence.

Masterson’s attorneys tried unsuccessfully to declare a false trial

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