1970s events attorney Danny Masterson pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to his name for raping three women in the early 2000s.
Defense attorney Tom Messero has filed out-of-court motions for Masterson in the Los Angeles County Supreme Court over three cases of violence or fears of rape.
The often postponed trial coincided with President-elect Joe Biden’s opening in Washington, which has received little media attention since Masterson first appeared in June. The charges have been postponed several times since then.
Prosecutors alleged that 44-year-old Masterson, who was released from prison after his arrest on June 17, raped a 23-year-old woman around 2001, a 28-year-old woman in April 2003 and a 23-year-old woman in April 2003. among women aged between October and December 2003.
If convicted, Masterson could face up to 45 years in prison.
Messero, whose former clients include Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby, told the court in June that the allegations were the result of unfair media noise and political pressure to mistreat his client. Lawyers say his team will prove Masterson’s innocence.
Masterson’s arrest comes after a three-year investigation that resulted in a rare mistreatment of a famous Hollywood character in the #MeToo era. Despite dozens of investigations, most have not led to insufficient evidence-based allegations or too much time since the alleged sexual harassment.
The women who accused Masterson of sexual harassment said they had suffered “abuse, shame and re-victimization” by the actor and the Church of Scientology to which he was a member after Masterson and the Church learned they were “working with them.” authorities.” “”
“We are grateful that the Los Angeles Prosecutor’s Office has finally sought criminal justice against Masterson,” they said together in a statement. “We are confident the truth will come out and we hope that the charges filed today are the first step on a long journey towards healing, justice and an obligation to hold those who are our victims accountable.”
In 2017, actress Leah Remini, a former member of the Church of Scientology, accused Los Angeles police of covering up Masterson’s investigation to convince Scientology leaders.
Several months later, Remini continued to speak out against Masterson, and the final series in the Emmy-winning Scientology and Consequences series featured two out of four women who accused Masterson of sexual assault. However, this episode was postponed in February 2019.
A few months ago, the two-hour show Remini Waiting for Justice premiered in August 2019. She interviewed prosecutor Masterson about her experiences with a former ranch actor and condemned the Church of Scientology for protecting her from justice.
Masterson was fired from the Netflix series The Ranch and secretly left his former talent agency United Talent Agency (UTA) after the LAPD confirmed it was investigating allegations of sexual assault against him by multiple women in 2016 and 2017.
“Obviously, I am deeply disappointed by Netflix’s decision to remove my ranch character,” the actor wrote in a statement during the recording.
“Since Day 1 I have denied the shameful accusations against myself. I have never been accused of a crime, let alone convicted of a crime.
“In this country you consider yourself innocent until proven guilty. However, in the current climate, when you are charged, you appear guilty. I understand and hope to hear my name once and for all. Clear.” “
Church of Scientology litigation lawyers also issued a statement in August 2019 calling the process a “scam”.
“From what we have read in the press, these baseless claims will not succeed because the accusations are ridiculous and false,” the statement said. “This is an act of dishonest publicity and hallucinations. Leah Remini uses these people as farmers in their scams to make money.”
The rape allegations came amid Masterson’s fame when he starred as Stephen Hyde on the retro sitcom on Fox TV That ’70s Show with Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topper Grace from 1998 to 2006.