US actor Danny Masterson has been sentenced to serve 30 years to life in prison for sexually assaulting two women. Masterson gained fame for his role in the TV series That ’70s Show during the early 2000s.
Prosecutors argued that Masterson, aged 47, had used his status as a prominent Scientologist to evade accountability.
Prior to his sentencing, Judge Charlaine Olmedo allowed the victims to deliver impact statements in court.
Leah Remini, a former prominent Scientologist and actress, attended the hearing and offered support to the women before and after they made their statements.
One of the women expressed regret for not reporting the incidents to the police earlier, while another forgave Masterson, stating that his problems were no longer her burden to bear.
Throughout the hearing, Masterson remained silent.
As the judge read out the sentence, which was the maximum penalty allowed, Masterson’s wife, Bijou Phillips, was seen in court breaking down in tears.
Masterson was found guilty in May after a retrial, as the first jury in 2022 could not reach a verdict. Following his conviction, Masterson was considered a flight risk and taken into prison custody.
The actor was convicted based on the testimonies of three women who stated that he had sexually assaulted them at his Hollywood home from 2001 to 2003, during the peak of his television career. The jury heard that he had administered drugs to his victims before the assaults. He was found guilty of rape against two of his three accusers, while the charges brought by the third accuser resulted in a mistrial, with prosecutors stating that they do not plan to retry the case.
Alison Anderson, a lawyer representing two of the victims, commended the women for their strength and bravery in coming forward and participating in two grueling criminal trials, despite facing persistent harassment, obstruction, and intimidation. She stated that they had helped hold a ruthless sexual predator accountable.
During the trial, prosecutors argued that the Church of Scientology had played a role in covering up the assaults, an allegation that the organization vehemently denied. At the time of the attacks, Masterson and all three accusers were affiliated with Scientology. Some of the women claimed that it took them years to come forward because Scientology officials discouraged them from involving the police. One survivor was allegedly offered $400,000 and asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement to keep quiet.
Throughout the proceedings, Judge Olmedo allowed discussions about Scientology’s beliefs and practices, which angered the organization.
In response to the May verdict, the Church of Scientology stated that there was no evidence to support the allegations of harassment against the accusers.
In court, one woman revealed that she had been shunned by her mother, who remains a practicing Scientologist. Another survivor disclosed ongoing victimization by the Church of Scientology since speaking out but expressed no regrets.
Masterson was first accused of rape in 2017 during the #MeToo movement. He denied the allegations, claiming that the encounters were consensual. Charges were filed after a three-year investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department. Prosecutors did not file charges in two other cases due to insufficient evidence and the statute of limitations expiring.
Before the hearing, the judge denied a motion for a new trial presented by Masterson’s defense team.