Danny Masterson’s Maximum Prison Sentence Is a Victory for All Survivors (Guest Post)

Actress and Voices in Action founder Jessica Barth writes on justice and progress following the actor’s conviction for two rapes

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“Mr. Masterson, you are not the victim here.”

While awaiting the sentencing of Danny Masterson on Thursday morning, those words from Judge Charlaine Olmedo broke through mounting courtroom tension. The conviction on two counts of forcible rape left only two possible sentences: 15 years to life or 30 years to life in prison. Masterson’s defense team, Phil Cohen and Shawn Holley, attempted to argue for the lesser sentence emphasizing what the loss of many years could mean for the defendant. Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller turned their argument on its face when he reminded the Judge of what the Jane Does had already lost over the past 20 years, stressing the constant retraumatization that comes with seeking justice as well as the witness’ complete devastation on the stand nearly two decades after being assaulted.

Survivors of rape need not only survive the assault, they must survive living in its aftermath. It is not only the victims who must suffer and heal, those who love them most suffer along with them. Rape brings along with it lifelong trauma, which is why Judge Olmedo’s sentencing of the maximum 30 years to life is just.

I was present in the courtroom with my organization Voices in Action throughout the trial offering support to the brave women who took the stand. Most predators walk free and most victims will never get to see the inside of a courtroom in order to seek justice. We applaud Deputy DA Reinhold Mueller and Deputy DA Ariel Anson for their belief in this case as well as their thoughtful and effective prosecution. Judge Olmedo was perfectly fair and flawless in her rulings. Two decades is too long to wait for justice. The process is exhausting, humiliating and oftentimes devastating. We are so grateful for the survivors, for their courage and for their voices.

To paraphrase Judge Olmedo, “You are not here based on one woman’s testimony, although one woman’s testimony would be enough.”

We hope this conviction sends a message to abusers everywhere that you will be held accountable. We also encourage District Attorney offices everywhere to begin prosecuting more cases of sexual assault. The culture is shifting, victims are breaking their silence and juries are believing them beyond a reasonable doubt. We send strength, healing and joy to Jane Does and witnesses who took the stand in this trial. We are honored to have had the opportunity to support you.

We would like to end with a reminder that sexual offenders tend to be serial offenders. If you have been harmed, there is a high probability that you are not alone. Voices in Action offers a confidential and private documentation platform with the ability to track serial perpetrators. Survivor support is extremely lacking but incredibly necessary within the entertainment industry.

Since 2018, Voices in Action has been providing the support we all hoped organizations such as Times Up would offer. We have filled the vacuum Times Up left in the wake of its collapse and we are here to support.

Jessica Barth is an actress, writer and activist. In the wake of the #MeToo movement; which Jessica helped ignite as an original Silence Breaker and alongside her longtime creative partner Kristin Leland founded the nonprofit Voices in Action, She was one of the first 13 women to  share their experiences of harassment with Ronan Farrow in his groundbreaking New Yorker expose outing Harvey Weinstein’s decades of predation. She is a successful actress starring in Seth Macfarlane’s multi-million dollar film franchise, TED. Jessica has lent her writing skills to multiple publications and podcasts including CNN, Voices in Action, and TheWrap.

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