A man acknowledged as the husband of one of the alleged victims in the rape re-trial of Danny Masterson was admonished Friday by the Los Angeles judge for intensely staring at the former “That ’70s Show” star, who once again chose not to testify on his own behalf.
The prosecution and defense both rested their respective cases Friday, and closing arguments were expected to begin Tuesday, lasting a day or two before the new jury gets the case. Late last year, the original jury was hung on all three counts of rape and a mistrial declared, but the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office felt it had learned enough from the experience to attempt a re-trial.
As lawyers for both sides were mopping up some matters to close their cases, the Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo addressed a situation that had been discussed behind the scenes:
“There’s a man in the front row that Mr. Masterson feels was staring at him inappropriately,” she said. “Mr. Masterson, the man can remain as long as he abides by the rules of the courtroom. With that said, she admonishes the person … and instructs not to stare at Mr. Masterson.”
“I can’t help how he feels,” the man, who was not identified by name, replied.
“I understand,” the judge said. “But you can’t give hard glares non-stop,” instructing him to keep a “poker face.”
“I was notified that you are the husband of one of the victims,” she said.
Defense attorney Phillip Cohen chimed in that the bailiff had also mentioned noticing the stares. Olmedo asked the bailiff whether that was true, and he said it was.
After a few more minutes, the man left with an attorney.
Soon after, the judge asked Masterson whether he would testify. Cohen did not call any witnesses or offer any defense beyond vigorous cross-examination in either trial.
“So, Mr. Masterson … You have an absolute right to remain silent, and an absolute right to testify on your own behalf,” asking whether he had consulted his attorneys about whether to testify.
“Yes, your honor,” he said.
“And you’ve come to a decision?”
“Yes, your honor.”
“And what is that decision?”
“Not to testify.”
She briefly grilled Masterson and Cohen to ensure the decision was the actor’s alone, and determined that it was.
The jury will have Monday off.
In each trial, three different women told jurors that Masterson raped them at his Los Angeles home in separate – but chillingly similar – incidents between 2001 and 2003. A fourth Jane Doe had also testified as a support witness, but her allegations were not among the charges.
Masterson must be convicted on at least two of the three charged cases, in order to clear a California statute-of-limitations bar. He faces a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in prison.
This story is based on pool notes from independent journalist Tony Ortega.