Danny Masterson Rape Retrial Goes to Jury – 7 Women, 5 Men to Decide ‘That ’70s Show’ Star’s Fate
A jury of seven women and five men began deliberating Wednesday in the rape re-trial of Danny Masterson, and are all but assured to render the final word on the fate of the “That ’70s Show” actor accused of drugging and raping three women in separate but similar incidents at his Hollywood Hills home in the early 2000s.
Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller delivered the conclusion to his closing argument Monday, Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo delivered instructions to the panel, and they were under way. Masterson’s defense team delivered its entire closing argument Wednesday, focusing on inconsistencies in the stories of each of the three victims, all former Scientologists, and suggesting they were in cahoots to lash out at the church and win a separate civil lawsuit.
Los Angeles prosecutors chose to re-try Masterson after a hung jury and mistrial last November. This time around, prosecutors focused more on the allegation that Masterson had drugged his victims, calling a date-rape-drug expert witnesses and saying outright – as opposed to merely inferring, as they did in the first trial – that the “That ’70s Show” star slipped his victims an intoxicant.
“This defendant drugged and raped each of these victims,” Mueller said Wednesday. “That’s the reasonable conclusion. And that word (reasonable) … I want you to keep that in mind. It’s not reasonable that there was (evolving victims’ stories), it’s not reasonable that there was a conspiracy – the evidence doesn’t support any of that. So when you get back in the jury room, you must reject that. And you’re left with only one reasonable conclusion, that he drugged and raped these victims.”
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Several of Masterson’s family members, including wife Bijou Phillips, were present in the courtroom, which was quieter than usual Wednesday – but no less colorful. Defense attorney Philip Cohen, well-known for his flamboyant sartorial choices, drew “cat-calls” upon entering Wednesday morning, on account of his metallic purple three-piece suit, porkpie hat with matching brim, white shirt and pink pocket square.
Judge Olmedo pointed out that one of the district attorney’s investigators had correctly picked “purple” in an office pool.
“Got a few cat-calls this morning,” Cohen said.
“Just guessing here, did you go to school with a uniform when you were a kid?” the judge asked Cohen.
“No,” Cohen said.
Not to be outdone, an unidentified woman arrived in the spectator section holding a tiny Yorkie. According to pool reports, “no one bats an eye.”
In each trial, three different women told jurors that Masterson raped them at his Los Angeles home in separate – but chillingly similar – incidents between 2001 and 2003. A fourth Jane Doe had also testified as a support witness, but her allegations were not among the charges.
Masterson must be convicted on at least two of the three charged cases, in order to clear a California statute-of-limitations bar. He faces a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in prison.
Pool reporting courtesy of Tony Ortega was used in this report.
Danny Masterson Rape Retrial Winds Down With Closing Arguments, New Jury to Get Case