Actor and Scientologist Danny Masterson will spend at least the next 30 years behind bars, following a conviction for violently raping two women at his Hollywood Hills home.
A jury of five men and seven women found Masterson, 37, guilty on two rape counts on May 31 after eight days of deliberations. He had faced a third rape count for allegedly assaulting a longtime girlfriend, but the jury deadlocked on that charge. He was given 15 years to life on each conviction, to be served consecutively.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo sentenced him Thursday after hearing victim impact statements from a pair of victims who shared harrowing memories of what they endured.
“You relish in hurting women,” one of Masterson’s victims said, according to a reporter who was in the courtroom. “It is your addiction. It is without question your favorite thing to do.”
She called him a “true coward” and a “heartless monster,” and recommended that Masterson consider making the most of his time behind bars by reading and educating himself. Amid it all, the woman, who said the situation at one point had her considering suicide, told Masterson that she forgave him.
The other woman said the legal ordeal has been “filled with attempts [by the Church of Scientology] to silence us all, to intimidate us and even obstruct.” “I still have to contend with what you did to me that night,” she said, adding that she will need therapy for life.
A member of the prosecution team read a victim impact statement from the third woman whose allegations did not result in a guilty verdict. She told the judge that she had been diagnosed with PTSD.
Masterson’s attorney told Olmedo that his client did not plan on making a statement.
After the hearing, however, a statement on behalf of Masterson via defense counsel Shawn Holley said that Masterson maintained his innocence and planned to continue his legal battle.
“For the past several months, a team of the top appellate lawyers in the country has been reviewing the transcripts of the trial,” Holley said in a statement emailed to The Daily Beast.
“They have identified a number of significant evidentiary and constitutional issues, which they will address in briefs to both state and federal appellate courts. 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.”
Masterson’s family was on hand to support him at sentencing while actress and ex-Scientologist Leah Remini was in court to support the three victims.
Remini, 53, tweeted after the sentencing that she was “relieved” by the outcome, calling it a “surreal experience” and reminding her followers that Masterson had allegedly been enabled by Scientology’s leadership.
“For over two decades, Danny Masterson avoided accountability for his crimes,” she wrote. “While Danny was the only one sentenced, his conviction and sentence are indictments against Scientology, its operatives, and its criminal leader, David Miscavige.”
She alleged that Masterson’s crimes had been covered up by Scientology’s internal intelligence agency and several of its top officials, as well as an army of church-linked attorneys, private investigators, and agents.
Remini also praised the survivors, saying they “fought tirelessly for justice” after having gone through a “living hell.”
“Their tenacity, strength, and courage have given hope to all victims of Scientology that justice is possible,” she added. “For that, we will forever be grateful.”
The rapes took place in 2003, while Masterson, who is a second-generation Scientologist, was riding high on his celebrity as one of the stars of Fox’s That ‘70s Show. All three of Masterson’s accusers were members of the Church of Scientology but have since left, and prosecutors said the organization protected Masterson from consequences for some two decades.
Masterson allegedly dosed his victims’ drinks with knockout drugs, then had his way with them. “They were raped, they were punished for it, and they were retaliated against,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller said in court. “Scientology told them there’s no justice for them.”
Masterson has insisted the encounters were consensual and his legal team told jurors during the trial to consider the possibility that the women had been motivated by “hatred, revenge, or money.”
Masterson, himself, didn’t take the stand in his own defense, and his legal team did not call any witnesses. Defense attorneys, however, tried to discredit the accounts of Masterson’s accusers as inconsistent and flawed.
After Masterson was convicted earlier this year, Scientology officials issued a statement calling portions of the trial testimony having to do with the organization “uniformly false.” In an emailed statement on Thursday, the Church of Scientology pushed back on allegations that it harassed Masterson’s accusers and dissuaded them from going to police, saying the organization “has no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of anyone—Scientologists or not—to law enforcement.”
“There is not a scintilla of evidence supporting the scandalous allegations that the Church harassed the accusers,” the statement said. “Every single instance of supposed harassment by the Church is FALSE, and has been debunked.”
Masterson’s lawyers asked that their client be allowed to serve both terms concurrently, for a total of 15 years. They appealed to Olmedo to take into account Masterson’s strong work ethic and real-life role as the father of a 9-year-old daughter.
According to the Associated Press, Olmedo instead gave Masterson a piece of her mind, saying, “Mr. Masterson, I know that you’re sitting here steadfast in your claims of innocence, and thus no doubt feeling victimized by a justice system that has failed you. But Mr. Masterson, you are not the victim here. Your actions 20 years ago took away another person’s voice and choice. One way or another you will have to come to terms with your prior actions, and their consequences.”
Masterson will be eligible for parole in 2048, at the age of 72.