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Danny Masterson Rape Trial Goes to Jury for Deliberations

For the first time in the month-long trial, the gallery was packed with well-dressed Scientologists

The rape trial of “That ’70s Show” star and prominent Scientologist Danny Masterson went to the jury for deliberations Tuesday afternoon following more than a month of testimony. After getting instructions from the judge, the panel briefly began deliberating before going home for the night, and will begin again on Wednesday morning.

Closing arguments began first thing Tuesday, with prosecutors wrapping more than a month of testimony by painting the “That ’70s Show” star as an entitled “upstat” – a church term for its highest-ranking members – who sexually attacked young, vulnerable women by bulldozing through clear boundaries, knowing there would be no consequences.

“Mr. Masterson has been sitting here in court for the last four weeks or so. He’s always well dressed and well groomed,” Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller told the jury and courtroom gallery – which on Tuesday was packed with well-dressed Scientologists. “I can assure you these victims have a different image.”

Since testimony began in the second week of October, four different women – three of them Scientologists, and one not – accused Masterson of extreme controlling behavior that culminated in violent rapes at his Los Angeles home. One of the women was Masterson’s long-term girlfriend, who had joined Scientology, disavowing her own family, at Masterson’s behest.

“For them, he was someone who was the center of this circular world, group of friends, he was the upstat, he was the guy who would have parties at his house, say ‘Come over, have a drink!,'” Mueller said. “He was the guy who would spin a record, give you a drink, invite you to spend the night if you were drunk just to be safe. But if you were a young woman – which these victims were at the time – you were far from safe. Because if you were incapacitated in his bed, he would rape you.”

Defense attorney Phillip Cohen highlighted the “contradictions” in the case, and suggested that prosecutors used Scientology as a crutch: “We heard Scientology over and dover again, so much so it became the go-to excuse. When someone got contradicted or forgot something Scientology is brought up.”

Cohen went one-by one through the four Jane Does’ testimony, highlighting issues with each.

“I get the theme,” he said. “Paint Danny as a monster. But when you look at the testimony it’s not there.”

He also took issue with testimony details that were omitted or evolved with time, and the Jane Does’ admissions to “fuzzy” memories.

“This is the problem when you start veering from the truth,” he said. “The truth is very easy when you don’t have to remember anything.”

When the case was formally sent to the jury, Masterson’s wife Bijou Phillips – who had sat with him for the entirety of the trial, had to leave and wipe her face with a tissue. It was the first time she’d shown any notable emotion in the courtroom.

Masterson was formally charged in 2020, but allegations first came to light in March 2017, more than six months before the New York Times’ bombshell report on Harvey Weinstein. A blogger covering Scientology was first to report that Los Angeles Police Department detectives were investigating Masterson after three women came forward with accusations of rape and assault.

Masterson has maintained ever since that he never engaged in nonconsensual sex.

The women claim they came into contact with Masterson in the early 2000s through the Church of Scientology, and each has said they were pressured by the Church into keeping the allegations quiet. The Church has declined to comment on the ongoing trial, saying: “The Church has no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of Scientologists, or of anyone, to law enforcement. Quite the opposite. Church policy explicitly demands Scientologists abide by all laws of the land.”