Danny Masterson, the former “That ’70s Show” star, was charged on Wednesday with forcibly raping three women in 2001 and 2003. Though the LAPD confirmed in 2017 that it was investigating Masterson based on accusations of sexual assault, two of the women’s accounts were also featured in the finale of Leah Remini’s A&E show, “Scientology and the Aftermath,” last year.
Now, the criminal case comes alongside a civil lawsuit that four women have filed against Masterson and the Church of Scientology. Here’s a breakdown of what we know so far:
What are the charges?
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office has charged Masterson with three counts of forcible rape. The charges stem from three incidents occurring in 2001 and 2003 with three different women. If convicted, Masterson faces a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in prison.
Masterson is accused of raping a 23-year-old woman between January and December 2001, a 28-year-old woman in April 2003 and a 23-year-old woman between October and December 2003.
The charges come three years after the LAPD first confirmed it was investigating Masterson based on accusations of sexual assault made by three women. According to Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller, who is prosecuting the case, all of the alleged crimes took place at Masterson’s home in the Hollywood Hills.
The DA’s office also said on Wednesday that it declined to file charges against Masterson for two other incidents because there was “insufficient evidence” for one case and the statute of limitations for the other.
Masterson’s bail was set at $3.3 million and his arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 18.
Masterson’s attorney, Tom Mesereau, told TheWrap on Wednesday that his client is “innocent” and that he will be “exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify.”
“Obviously, Mr. Masterson and his wife are in complete shock considering that these nearly 20-year old allegations are suddenly resulting in charges being filed, but they and their family are comforted knowing that ultimately the truth will come out,” Mesereau said. “The people who know Mr. Masterson know his character and know the allegations to be false.”
What about the lawsuit against Masterson and the Church of Scientology?
The criminal case is separate from the civil lawsuit, whose plaintiffs include Chrissie Bixler and her husband Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Marie Bobette Riales and two anonymous Jane Does. The lawsuit is against Masterson, the Church of Scientology and Scientology leader David Miscavige. Three of the women in the lawsuit — Bixler and the two Jane Does — have been involved in the Church of Scientology.
Robert Thompson, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, told TheWrap on Thursday that they will still be “moving forward with the civil lawsuit while the criminal prosecution goes forward.” He also confirmed that the three women whose accounts make up the charges against Masterson in the criminal case are three of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, but the criminal complaint itself does not name any of the women involved.
The lawsuit filed in 2019 contains the plaintiffs’ accusations that there was a “conspiracy to cover up that Daniel Masterson sexually assaulted four young women” and that the defendants “conspired to and systemically stalked, harassed, invaded their family’s privacy, and intentionally caused them emotional distress to silence and intimidate them.”
The lawsuit also mentions the plaintiffs’ accusations of sexual assault. Bixler said that when she was dating Masterson and living with him, he would regularly become violent with her when she refused to have sex with him, the suit said. She also claims that Masterson drugged her and raped her when she was unconscious, and that Masterson admitted to doing so the following morning.
Riales, according to the lawsuit, started dating Masterson in 2002 and would regularly blackout after consuming drinks Masterson had given her, leading her to believe he was drugging and sexually assaulting her when she was unconscious.
Jane Doe #1 said she was sexually assaulted by Masterson in 2002 and 2003, according to the suit, when she was intoxicated and unable to give consent. Jane Doe #2 said she was also sexually assaulted by Masterson when she was too drunk to give consent, according to the suit.
At the time, Masterson denied the accusations and the Church of Scientology said the claims were “ludicrous and a sham.”
Who is Danny Masterson?
Masterson is an actor best known for portraying Steven Hyde in “That ’70s Show.” He also starred in Netflix’s “The Ranch” alongside Ashton Kutcher from 2016 until 2017, when Netflix dropped him from the show in light of the sexual assault allegations. In 2018, UTA also dropped the actor from its roster.