Danny Masterson was sentenced on Thursday to at least 30 years in prison for raping two women at his Los Angeles home in the early 2000s. Masterson, 47, chose not to speak during the hearing — he didn't testify in either trial. Judge Charlaine Olmedo announced her decision following emotional statements from his victims and "verbally dismantled Masterson's defense," according to legal journalist Meghann Cuniff. The actor's attorney said they are "very disappointed in the sentence" and will appeal.
"Mr. Masterson, you are not the victim here. Your actions 20 years ago took away another person's choice and voice. Your actions 20 years ago today were criminal, and that's why you are here," Olmedo said in court.
Olmedo reportedly acknowledged how Masterson is probably wondering "how you can be convicted of each charge of sexual incident occurring 20 years ago" involving "a woman who you believe is disgruntled and has a vendetta against you."
"You were not convicted on the testimony of one person," the judge continued, according to Cuniff.
"You were not convicted based on rumors, innuendo, gossip and speculation," Olmedo added. "You were convicted based on evidence that 12 people in the community found to be credible. … You were convicted because each of the victims reported the rapes to someone shortly after the rapes occurred."
Masterson faces 30 years to life in prison. The judge denied the defense's request that Masterson's sentence be served concurrent instead of consecutive, meaning he'd be given a prison term of only 15 years. Masterson's wife, actress Bijou Phillips, who is a well-known Scientologist, reportedly cried in court at the beginning of the hearing.
Two of Masterson's victims gave emotional victim impact statements in court before Olmedo handed down the sentence.
"You relish in hurting women. It is your addiction. It is without question your favorite thing to do," said one of the women, identified only as N. Trout, reported Cuniff. (Per court procedure, the accusers' names were withheld from the proceedings.)
"Life is precious and fragile. Find your heart," Trout continued. "Listen to the brightness of nothing and get well. I forgive you."
Best known for playing Steven Hyde on That '70s Show, the actor was charged with forcibly raping three women — N. Trout, Jennifer B. and Chrissy B — from 2001 to 2003. After a mistrial in 2022, prosecutors went back to court earlier this year, where on May 31, a second jury found Masterson guilty of sexually assaulting Jen B. and N. Trout. The panel was deadlocked, however, on the third count involving Chrissy B, the actor's longtime girlfriend.
Prosecutors read a written statement from Chrissy while Jennifer spoke in court. Jennifer said the LAPD's years-long investigation into Masterson "wasn't easy" and called out the Church of Scientology for alleged interference.
"It's been filled with attempts to silence us all, to intimidate us and even obstruct," she said, according to Cuniff. Jennifer noted how Masterson must face consequences as he's in a "real court," not Scientology's infamous Celebrity Centre in Hollywood, Calif.
The Church of Scientology loomed large over the proceedings and both trials. Masterson was protected by the church, according to his three accusers, all of whom were former Scientologists. The women claimed they were harassed and threatened by church officials after coming forward to authorities, accusations refuted by the church, which claimed it was being falsely and unfairly attacked by prosecutors.
Leah Remini, who is suing the church and its leader, David Miscavige, was in attendance at Thursday's sentencing. The actress famously left Scientology in 2013 and has been one of the organization's most outspoken critics. Masterson's legal team accused Remini of convincing the three women to falsely accuse the actor of rape, which she has denied.
"Sorry, Leah's not behind this," Jennifer declared in court.
Hours after the hearing ended, Remini posted a lengthy statement that called Masterson a "dangerous rapist" and called out Scientology for allegedy trying to shield him while subjecting the victims to "ruthless and criminal harassment."
"Hearing the survivors read their victim impact statements aloud in court while the man who raped them and some of the very Scientologists who terrorized them over two decades were just a few feet away displayed a level of bravery that I am in awe of," Remini wrote. "The women who survived Danny's predation fought tirelessly for justice. Their tenacity, strength, and courage have given hope to all victims of Scientology that justice is possible. For that, we will forever be grateful."
My statement on the sentencing of Scientologist Danny Masterson:
"Sitting in court today with the women who survived Danny Masterson's predation was a surreal experience. Over the past seven decades, former Scientologists have sadly become used to Scientology using its…
— Leah Remini (@LeahRemini) September 7, 2023
In the end, the women's powerful statements helped punctuate a case six years in the making and put Masterson behind bars for decades to come.
Masterson's attorney, Shawn Holley, issued a statement after court and said they're "confident" the conviction will be overturned.
"For the past several months, a team of the top appellate lawyers in the country has been reviewing the transcripts of the trial. They have identified a number of significant evidentiary and constitutional issues, which they will address in briefs to both state and federal appellate courts," Holley stated. "The errors that occurred in this case are substantial and, unfortunately, led to verdicts that were not supported by the evidence. And though we have great respect for the jury in this case and for our system of justice overall, sometimes they get it wrong. And that's what happened here. Mr. Masterson did not commit the crimes for which he has been convicted, and we, and the appellate lawyers, the best and brightest in the country, are confident that these convictions will be overturned."
The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office disagrees.
“This has been a long and arduous road for the victims of Mr. Masterson. They not only survived his abuse, they also survived a system that is often not kind to victims. I applaud their courage for coming forward and participating in this process," District Attorney George Gascón tells Yahoo Entertainment in a statement. "My hope is that this sentence will somehow bring them peace and that their bravery will be an example to others. I also want to thank the entire trial team. This was a very difficult case but due to their hard work, experience and commitment, justice was finally served today. One of my top priorities is to ensure that Los Angeles will no longer be a hunting ground for Hollywood elite who feel entitled to prey on women."