Prosecutors intend to re-try Danny Masterson on rape charges, the Los Angeles District Attorney said Tuesday after a judge rejected the “That ’70s Show” star’s request for a dismissal.
Masterson’s first trial ended in a hung jury late last year when the panel failed to reach unanimity on any of the three charges of rape. The vote totals, revealed after a mistrial was declared, showed the jury skewing toward acquittal – so the DA’s decision to re-try the case with a new jury comes as something of a surprise.
An April 3 trial date was set, but it was agreed that prospective jurors would begin filtering in March 29. For now, Masterson is free, with some restrictions, on $3 million bond.
Three women – who all said they met Masterson through the Church of Scientology in the early 2000s – testified over a handful of weeks beginning in October that a forceful and commandeering Masterson gave them an alcoholic drink, then raped them as they drifted in and out of consciousness. One of the Jane Doe witnesses was a long-term girlfriend; the other two he had casually known through mutual friends.
Each said pressure from Scientology prevented them from immediately reporting the alleged crimes, which the church has vociferously denied.
“We are very happy with the decision to have a new trial,” Deputy District Attorney Robert Mueller said after the hearing concluded.
When Judge Charlaine Olmedo dismissed Cohen’s request to dismiss the case altogether, she noted that prosecutors called only 16 out of 36 potential witnesses.
“It appears there are many other witnesses people could choose,” Olmedo said. “Mr. Masterson is charged with multiple counts of serious and violent felonies – forcible rapes. If true and Masterson is convicted, society would not only be protected from a violent felon, and should be protected from a violent felon.”
When the hearing was over, defense attorney Phillip Cohen said only, “I’ve already said everything.”