The judge in the Danny Masterson rape trial declared a hung jury on Wednesday, after the jurors said they could not reach a verdict on any of the charges.
In a note to Judge Charlaine Olmedo, the jurors said that “we are not even close to coming to a unanimous decision on any count, and are convinced this will not change.”
Masterson, the former star of “That ’70s Show,” was charged with three counts of forcible rape relating to incidents involving three women from 2001 to 2003. The charges carried a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.
The jurors informed the judge that they were divided on each charge. The split was two for guilty and 10 for not guilty on Count 1; four for guilty and eight for not guilty on Count 2; and five for guilty and seven for not guilty on Count 3.
The jury began deliberating after closing arguments on Nov. 15. On Nov. 18, the jurors informed Judge Charlaine Olmedo that they were deadlocked on all three counts. Olmedo instructed them to return after the Thanksgiving holiday and keep deliberating.
Two jurors were excused on Monday after testing positive for COVID-19, and were replaced with alternates. The jury was instructed to begin deliberations all over again. The new panel asked for readback of testimony from one of the accusers testimony late on Tuesday. After hearing that testimony on Wednesday, they returned to the jury room.
Once again they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.
Masterson was accused of raping a longtime girlfriend in November 2001; a friend of his assistant’s in April 2003; and a fellow actor in 2003. A fourth woman also testified that Masterson raped her on two occasions in 1996, though her allegations were not charged and were used only to support the other three accusations.
The prosecution alleged that Masterson felt a sense of entitlement because of his acting success and his high status within the Church of Scientology. The three accusers, all former Scientologists, have all said that they were discouraged from thinking of the assaults as “rape,” and two have alleged that the church threatened them with excommunication if they went to the police.
The women have also alleged that they have been stalked and harassed by the church since coming forward to the police in 2016. The church has denied those allegations, which are the subject of a separate civil suit.
Masterson did not testify at the month-long trial. His attorney, Philip Cohen, argued that the women’s accounts were riddled with “contradictions and fabrications.” He also alleged that the accusers used Scientology as an excuse to explain away inconsistencies in their statements.
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