A judge declared a nullity on Wednesday in the trial for violation of That 70’s Show Danny Masterson after the jury said it had deadlocked on the charges, the Associated Press reported.
Masterson, 46, had faced three counts of forcible or fear rape for allegedly sexually assaulting three women at his Hollywood Hills home in 2001 and 2003. Each of the women said Masterson supplied them with alcohol and that when they became disoriented, he took them up to his bedroom and violently raped them.
Masterson, best known for playing Steven Hyde in That 70’s ShowHe pleaded not guilty to the charges, stating that he only had consensual sex with the women. He could have faced a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in prison if convicted.
Jurors said they had voted seven times in the past two days and were unable to reach a consensus on any of the three charges, according to AP. Only two jurors voted to convict on the first count, four voted to convict on the second count, and five voted to convict on the third count.
The judge has set a March date for a new trial.
The mistrial comes after two jurors tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week and were replaced by two alternates, prompting deliberations to restart from scratch. The original jury had announced that they were deadlocked on November 18 after three days of deliberations, but at that point, the judge ordered them to continue working toward a unanimous decision.
The week-long trial featured graphic testimony from the three women Masterson was accused of rape and a fourth woman who also accused him of sexual assault, as well as extensive discussion of the Church of Scientology.
Despite attempts by Masterson, a prominent Scientologist, to keep the church out of prosecution, the institution and its practices took center stage when the three women, all former Scientologists, testified about how church officials allegedly tried to protect to the accountability actor. .
A woman, identified during her testimony as JB, told jurors she thought Masterson was going to kill her when she described how the actor allegedly suffocated her with a pillow and strangled her while sexually assaulting her in April 2003. He didn’t. until more than a year later when she first reported the incident to the police.
She testified that she did not go to the police sooner because in the church community “you cannot report another reputable Scientologist,” as she understood Masterson to be, to the authorities.
She said she would “immediately be guilty of a felony” and expelled from the church, meaning no members could speak or have contact with her. For JB, that meant separating from her from her parents, who were also Scientologists with whom she lived and worked, and from all of her friends.
“My life would be over,” he testified.
During closing arguments, Masterson’s attorney, Philip Cohen, dissected the women’s statements, highlighting inconsistencies in what they told police, their family and friends, and their testimony at trial. Cohen suggested that the discrepancies raised sufficient reasonable doubt that what the jury was being told was not true.
“[Prosecutors] they want to win this case so desperately that they have ignored it until the closing argument,” Cohen said. “They have ignored the blatant, obvious, and overwhelming contradictions and fabrications that every Jane Doe has given you.”
Meanwhile, Los Angeles County Assistant District Attorney Reinhold Mueller argued that such differences in the women’s statements were natural given the time that had elapsed, the immense trauma they experienced, and the fact that they had to speak about it in separate occasions with different investigators. asking different questions. He also pointed out that the main details in the women’s stories remained constant over the years.
“Every time, they have to dig out what’s inside them to get that trauma out,” Mueller said. “They did the best they could to answer the questions we asked them here in court.”