Danny Masterson To Be Sentenced On Rape Verdict In August; Incarcerated Actor Faces 30 Years In Prison – Update
By Dominic Patten,2023-06-07
UPDATE, 10: 15 AM: Facing up to 30 years behind bars for being found guilty last month of two counts of rape, Danny Masterson will be sentenced on August 4.
A week after an LA jury delivered its partial verdict, Judge Charlaine Olemdo announced the sentencing date today at a downtown hearing.
Taken away in handcuffs on May 31 at the conclusion of his sexual assault retrial, the That 70s Show actor is currently being held in custody in “administrative segregation” in the LA County Men’s Central Jail. Defense lawyers have indicated they will appeal last week’s verdict. However, as of today, no appeal has been filed.
The criminal trial panel was deadlocked on count 3 of the initial charges. That count concerned prominent Scientologist Masterson’s former long-term girlfriend and ex-Scientologist Christina B a.k.a. Jane Doe #3., who testified in both the first trial and the retrial. “I am devastated that he has dodged criminal accountability for his heinous conduct against me,” she said in a statement released after the retrial verdict was made public last week.
At an evidentiary hearing this morning on how some of the prosecution’s discovery material found its way to a Scientology lawyer, Judge Olemdo told attorneys on both sides that she wanted a probation report by the opening week of August. As a part of that report, the judge told the assembled defense and LA District Attorney reps that Masterson was not to be interviewed as a part of said report. (Update, 12 PM: Judge Olemdo determined that Masterson’s former lawyers Tom Mesereau and Sharon Appelbaum leaked the discovery material to the David Miscavge-run Church. She has sanctioned them, but the amount wasn’t revealed as the duo are appealing the order )
Out on bail of $3 million up until May 31, Masterson was arrested in 2020 over the alleged assaults that occurred in Hollywood Hills house between 2001 and 2003. The actor faced up to 45 years in a California state prison if found guilty on all three rape counts in the first trial and this retrial.
PREVIOUSLY, MAY 31 PM: The jury in Danny Masterson’s rape retrial today found the actor guilty on the majority of the three counts against him.
After the verdicts were read out and the jury dismissed, Masterson was deemed a “flight risk” by Judge Charlaine Olemdo. With a dazed look on his face, the actor was cuffed and taken into custody despite the pleas of his lawyers. The next hearing on motions in the matter has been scheduled for August 4. A Sentencing hearing has not yet been set.
The 47-year old actor is facing 30 years behind bars on the two counts he was found guilty of. Yet, similar to the first trial that ended late last year, the jurors were unable to reach an unanimous verdict on sexual assault charges against Masterson.
Coming into court just before 1:50 p.m.. the jury informed the defendant, Judge Olemdo and others present that they found Masterson guilty of the “forceable rape” of two of the Jane Does, Jen B and N. Trout
However, in what is still a rebuke to the LA County District Attorney’s office, the jury foreperson acknowledged that after five votes, the panel was “hopelessly deadlocked” on the third count with a breakdown of eight guilty and four not guilty at last count. The last count involved Jane Doe #3 a.k.a Christina B, a former long term girlfriend of the defendant.
In the previous trial , that jury was unable to come to consensus on any of the trio of charges.
Looking at 15 to life on each charge he was found guilty of today, Masterson sat expressionless as the verdicts were read out. However, seated just a few feet way, his wife Bijou Phillips could be heard loudly crying on and off in the courtroom. Other family and members of the actor’s legal team were openly crying also. After Masterson was taken away, family members like brother-in-law Billy Baldwin and friends stayed in the courtroom in an obvious state of shock.
The L.A. jury Wednesday delivered its partial verdict on the That ’70s Show actor after just over a week of deliberations. As in the first trial, all three of the Jane Does at the core of the charges testified.
“I am devastated that he has dodged criminal accountability for his heinous conduct against me,” said Christina B in a statement today after the verdict was unveiled. “Despite my disappointment in this outcome, I remain determined to secure justice, including in civil court, where I, along with my co-plaintiffs, will shine a light on how Scientology and other conspirators enabled and sought to cover up Masterson’s monstrous behavior.”
“We want to express our gratitude to the three women who came forward and bravely shared their experiences,” D.A. George Gascón said this afternoon. “Their courage and strength have been an inspiration to us all,” he added. “While we are disappointed that the jury did not convict on all counts, we respect their decision. The verdicts handed down by the jury in this case were undoubtedly a difficult one to reach and we thank the jurors for their service.”
“We also recognize that preventing sexual assault is critical and we will continue to educate the public on the importance of consent, healthy relationships, and bystander intervention. We believe that by working together, we can create a safer and more just society for all.”
Back from a long weekend break, the jurors started today around 10 a.m. with one member of the panel running late getting to the DTLA courthouse. With Masterson in the packed courtroom, Judge Olemdo announced that the jurors told her around 11 a.m. that they had a partial verdict. The judge told the defendant, the lawyers, family members and others in attendance that she advised the panel to fill out the required forms on what they had decided on before bringing the jury and the alternates into the courtroom.
Free until today on bail of $3 million, Masterson was arrested in 2020 over the alleged assaults that occurred between 2001 and 2003 in his Hollywood Hills house. The actor faced up to 45 years in a California state prison if found guilty on all three rape counts in the first trial and this retrial.
The retrial began on April 24 and wrapped on May 12 with the defense calling no witnesses. Closing arguments started on May 16 and conclude early on May 17 with the final rebuttal delivered by Deputy LA County Attorney Reinhold Mueller before Judge Olemdo, Masterson and supporters, and the jury.
Unlike the first trial, this time, the D.A.’s office put explicit emphasis on the long time Scientologist allegedly spiking the drinks of his victims, all Scientologists themselves at the time. While calling prior bad acts witnesses who are not and have never been members of the L. Ron Hubbard-formed church, prosecutors attempted to offer insight into Masterson’s status in Scientology. Further seeking to connect the jurors to a greater context of Masterson’s alleged misconduct, Mueller and fellow Deputy D.A. Ariel Anson returned again and again supposed policies and practices of the organization that actively sought to stop the alleged victims from going to the police over the rapes.
The Phillip Cohen and Shawn Holley-led defense unsuccessfully tried over and over, just like in the first trial, to have all mention of Scientology eradicated from the proceeding. The duo stressed to the judge and jury that the church was not a defendant in the case.
Masterson — who quickly was fired from the Netflix comedy The Ranch at the end of 2017 as the assault claims became known, and has been excluded from the That ’90s Show revival — has insisted he is not guilty and that sex with the Jane Does was consensual. After over five weeks of testimony, the first trial resulted in a deadlocked jury on November 30 .
This time, after two initial days of deliberations, the jury of seven women and five men returned on May 19 to the courtroom on the 9 th floor of Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center to rewatch a 2017 video interview of Jane Doe #3. Leaving observers scratching their heads as to what that could mean in terms of where the jurors were at, the panel went back behind closed doors by 9:40 a.m. Later that morning, the panel had a question on the case, but the nature of that query was not revealed.
Deliberations restarted late on May 23 and went dark on May 24.
Hinting at what has going on in the jury room, the panel on May 25 asked for a read back of the testimony of Jane Doe 3 — a.k.a. Christina B — a former long-term girlfriend of the actor. The jurors also asked to see the chart that defense attorney Cohen brandished during his closing argument detailing degrees of guilt. That request was refused.
As the jury continued to deliberate on May 26, Cohen went back to Judge Olmendo’s chambers to discuss an “issue.” No details about what the issue was and what was discussed were made available by the court. Lacking a conclusion before the long Memorial Day weekend, the jurors returned to deliberate on May 31.
Earlier in the day, a highly anticipated evidentiary hearing proved a bit of a dud.
Vicki Podberesky, an outside counsel for Scientology, seemingly inadvertently revealed on May 2 that she was in potentially criminal possession of prosocutional documents. This became apparent when she sent an email to the George Gascón-led D.A. office complaining about references to Scientology in the retrial. Attached to that email were 12 files containing the discovery evidence.
The possession of that material by the Scientology-hired lawyer could constitute a violation of California Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008 a.k.a. Marsy’s Law, among other things. When this matter was first brought up before an obviously not pleased Judge Olmedo on May 12, Holley implied that Mesereau and Applebaum may have passed the material to Podberseky in connection to the civil trial.
Very few members of the public showed up at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center this morning, but Judge Olmedo’s courtroom was packed with lawyers. Masterson’s defense team of Cohen and Holley were there, as well as Deputy L.A. County District Attorneys Anson and Mueller. Of note, the That ’70s Show’ s former lawyers Tom Mesereau and Sharon Applebaum were seated in the pews with attorneys of their own. Lawyers in the currently paused civil suit three of the Jane Does and their families have against Masterson and the Church for harassment and intimidation were seated nearby. Additionally, Karen Goldstein, who served as one of Masterson’s defense lawyers in the first rape trial joined remotely .
After a brief discussion between the judge and the assembled attorneys, it was decided to move the hearing to the morning of June 7. Judge Olmedo’s stated logic was it was better to push the proceedings until after the retrial jury had delivered a verdict – a state of affairs most assumed would have occurred by now.
Absent on Wednesday were Masterson, who was under no obligation to attend, and attorney Podberesky.