Danny Masterson Pleads Not Guilty to Rape Charges
Published Jan 20, 2021Danny Masterson has entered a not guilty plea to three counts of rape at his arraignment today. His lawyer Tom Mesereau entered the plea on the actor's behalf, as the former That '70s Show actor was not present in court, Variety reports.
Masterson was officially charted in June 2020 and stands accused of raping a 23-year-old woman between January and December 2001, in addition to allegedly raping a 28-year-old woman in April 2003 and another 23-year-old woman at his Hollywood Hills home between October and December 2003. Charges were laid against him on June 17 last year.
In October 2020, a Los Angeles superior court judge ruled that the case against the actor can move forward, rejecting Masterson's request to throw out the case under the statute of limitations.
At the time, Mesereau offered the following statement: "Mr. Masterson is innocent, and we're confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify."
Since June, Masterson's legal team attempted to have the case thrown out, arguing that the allegations had exceeded the statute of limitations. That motion was denied. Later, a Los Angeles judge ruled that Masterson's case must go through mediation within the Church of Scientology. Masterson is a known Scientologist.
If convicted, he faces up to 45 years in prison. The case will reconvene in a California court on March 24.
In November 2017, actress and former Scientologist Chrissie Carnell Bixler revealed herself to be one of four women accusing Masterson of rape. Bixler's husband, At the Drive-In and Mars Volta vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala, spoke out in her defence while alleging that the Church of Scientology had "been outsourcing private investigators and various thugs to follow and try and intimidate my family under the policy known as fair game." Bixler-Zavala also accused the church of poisoning his pet dogs in retaliation for speaking out against Masterson.
Masterson was fired from the Netflix show The Ranch in December 2017. The decision came a day after the Huffington Post reported that a Netflix executive told one of Masterson's accusers that the streaming company didn't believe the accusations.
In August 2019, four women sued Masterson and the Church of Scientology, alleging they were stalked and intimidated in retaliation for going to the police.