Danny Masterson Sentenced to 30 Years to Life for Rape Conviction Amidst Church of Scientology Controversy”

US actor Danny Masterson, best known for his role on the popular TV series “That ’70s Show,” has been sentenced to serve 30 years to life in prison for raping two women.

Masterson’s sentencing, which took place on Thursday, was the result of a retrial after the initial jury failed to reach a verdict in 2022. He was convicted in May on charges related to sexually assaulting three women at his Hollywood home during the early 2000s when he was at the height of his television fame. The jury heard disturbing testimony that Masterson had given drugs to his victims before assaulting them. While he was found guilty of rape against two of the accusers, the charges brought by the third accuser resulted in a mistrial, and prosecutors have stated that they do not intend to retry the case.

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Throughout the trial, prosecutors argued that Masterson had relied on his prominent position within the Church of Scientology to evade accountability for his actions. Notably, at the time of the assaults, both Masterson and his accusers were members of the Church of Scientology. Several of the victims revealed that they refrained from reporting the rapes due to pressure from Scientology officials, who reportedly discouraged them from involving the police. Shockingly, one survivor claimed that Scientology officials offered her a substantial payment of $400,000 (£320,000) and a non-disclosure agreement to dissuade her from reporting the rape to law enforcement.

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The case against Masterson emerged in 2017 amid the #MeToo movement, during which many women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct by powerful individuals in various industries. Despite vehemently denying the accusations, Masterson was charged following a rigorous three-year investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department. However, prosecutors did not pursue charges in two other cases due to insufficient evidence and the statute of limitations expiring.

During the trial, Judge Charlaine Olmedo allowed both the prosecution and the defense to discuss the beliefs and practices of the Church of Scientology, which drew significant attention and criticism from the organization.

Prominent former Scientologist and actress Leah Remini attended the sentencing hearing to support the victims and offered comfort before and after they delivered their statements. Another notable attendee was Jessica Barth, who founded Voices in Action, an organization dedicated to encouraging survivors of abuse to come forward and report their experiences. Barth had previously accused disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of abuse.

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Before the sentencing hearing, a motion for a new trial, presented by Masterson’s defense team, was denied by the judge, according to a court official in Los Angeles. Masterson, who had been deemed a flight risk after his conviction, was taken into prison custody, where he will serve his sentence of 30 years to life. The maximum penalty underscores the gravity of the crimes for which he has been found guilty.

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