Mistrial declared in actor Danny Masterson's assault case

Jury deadlocked in cases against 'That ’70s Show' actor accused of assaulting three women in his Hollywood Hills home

Actor Danny Masterson at his arraignment in Los Angeles Superior Court in September 2020. AP
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A judge on Wednesday declared a mistrial after jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked at the trial of That '70s Show actor Danny Masterson, who was charged with three rapes.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo had ordered the jurors to take Thanksgiving week off and keep deliberating.

They told her on November 18 that they could not come to a consensus about the rape allegations after a month-long trial in which the Church of Scientology played a supporting role.

Masterson, 46, was charged with the rape of three women, including a former girlfriend, in his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003.

He pleaded not guilty and his lawyer said the acts were all consensual.

All three women were members of the church at the time, and Masterson remains one.

“I find the jurors hopelessly deadlocked,” Ms Olmedo declared after asking if there was anything the court could do to move them closer to a unanimous decision.

Jurors said they had voted seven times on Tuesday and on Wednesday without being able to reach consensus on any of the three counts.

The jury foreman said only two jurors voted for conviction on the first count, four voted for conviction on the second count and five on the third count.

Jurors were forced to start deliberations from the start on Monday when two had to be dismissed after they contracted with Covid-19. They deliberated for two days but still could not reach verdicts.

The result was a serious setback for prosecutors, and for the three women who said they were seeking long overdue justice.

The proceedings took place amid cases with #MeToo connotations on both coasts, including the Los Angeles trial of Harvey Weinstein just down the hall from Masterson’s.

In New York, Kevin Spacey won a sexual misconduct lawsuit brought by actor Anthony Rapp, and a jury ordered director and screenwriter Paul Haggis to pay $10 million in a civil case there.

Updated: December 01, 2022, 12:04 AM
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