That ’70s Show actor Danny Masterson sentenced to 30 years in prison for rapes

 (Rich Fury/Invision/AP)
(Rich Fury/Invision/AP)

That ‘70s Show actor Danny Masterson has been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for raping two women he met through the Church of Scientology.

The actor and prominent Scientologist, 47, who starred in the retro TV comedy for eight seasons until 2006, was convicted in June in a second trial.

A jury deadlocked on a charge that he raped a third woman, his long-term girlfriend at the time.

Judge Charlaine Olemdo announced Masterson’s sentence in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday.

Masterson remained silent throughout the hearing.

As the judge read his sentence - the maximum penalty allowed - his wife, Bijou Phillips was seen in court breaking down in tears.

Masterson’s accusers said the Church of Scientology discouraged them from contacting law enforcement.

The organisation denied that claim and said Masterson’s religion should not have been an issue in the case.

The women said Masterson drugged and raped them in separate incidents between 2001 and 2003 at his house in the Hollywood Hills.

The crimes occured when Masterson was at the height of his fame, as Steven Hyde on That ’70s Show — the nostalgic comedy that made stars of Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace.

The three women said he used his prominence in the church — where all three women were also members at the time — to avoid consequences for years.

The women testified that when they reported Masterson to church officials, they were told they were not raped, were put through ethics programs themselves, and were warned against going to law enforcement to report a member of such high standing.

The two women whose testimony led to Masterson’s conviction said that in 2003, he gave them drinks and that they then became woozy or passed out before he violently raped them. He knew both from social circles in the church.

“They were raped, they were punished for it, and they were retaliated against,” Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller told jurors in his closing argument. “Scientology told them there’s no justice for them. You have the opportunity to show them there is justice.”

“I am experiencing a complex array of emotions — relief, exhaustion, strength, sadness — knowing that my abuser, Danny Masterson, will face accountability for his criminal behaviour,” one of the women, whom Masterson knew as a fellow member of the church and was convicted of raping at his home in 2003, said at the time of his conviction.

Allegations against Masterson affected his career.

When he was first accused of sexually assaulting multiple women in 2017, he was fired from the Netflix series The Ranch.