UPDATED with defense statement: Danny Masterson was sentenced this morning to 30 years to life in prison for multiple rapes.
As the one-time That ’70s Show actor was for both of his trials on the criminal charges, Masterson was present in court today for the sentencing from Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo. Permitted to address the court, Masterson chose not to speak Thursday — though he did confer with defense lawyer Phillip Cohen just before sentencing began.
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Speaking to Masterson directly of a “criminal justice system that you feel has failed you,” Judge Olmedo told him that “you are not the victim here … your actions 20 years ago were criminal.” Masterson was informed that because of his sentence, he will have to register as a sex offender upon parole or release — which the ex-network star told the court he understood.
Given the maximum sentence allocated under the law, Masterson was taken out of the court by Sheriff’s deputies to begin formally serving his time in a state prison. As the sentence was announced, Masterson’s wife Bijou Phillips and other family members quietly wept in the public gallery.
Today’s sentencing comes over three months after Masterson was found guilty by an LA jury on two of three counts of sexual assault. The rapes occurred two decades ago. Masterson was given 150 days credit for time already served. He was also notified that he can file a notice of appeal within 60 days of today – a move the defense is expected to make quickly.
“For the past several months, a team of the top appellate lawyers in the country has been reviewing transcripts of the trial. They have identified a number of significant evidentiary and constitutional issues which they will address in briefs to both state and federal appellate courts,” said defense attorney Holley outside the courthouse after the sentencing. “The errors which occurred in this case are substantial and unfortunately led to verdicts which are 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,” she continued, adding, “Mr. Masterson did not commit the crimes for which he has been convicted, and we, and the appellate lawyers, the best and the brightest in the country, are confident that these convictions will be overturned.”
Earlier ,the defense unsuccessfully had sought to have their client’s time served concurrently.
As attorney Shawn Holley made clear in remarks to the court today and in a filing this week, if the defense’s argument had been successful that would have seen Masterson imprisoned for 15 years to life as the maximum, with eligibility for parole 85% of the way through his sentence. As they made clear in court today, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office disagreed with that and asked for 30 years to life for Masterson. Articulated by Deputy D.A. Reinhold Mueller today, that disagreement was based in no small part on the fact that there were multiple victims on “multiple occasions” of “forceable rape” in this case.
Free on bail of $3 million until May 31 of this year when the verdict was delivered, Masterson was arrested in 2020 over the alleged assaults that occurred between 2001 and 2003 in his Hollywood Hills house. The prominent Scientology member was looking at up to 45 years behind bars if found guilty on all three rape counts in the first trial and the subsequent retrial.
Following a late 2022 trial that resulted in a deadlocked jury, the verdict of the retrial this year saw the actor led away in custody by Sheriff’s deputies. Deemed a flight risk by Judge Olmedo, Masterson has been behind bars since May 31, awaiting this twice delayed sentencing hearing.
With his hair slicked back, a bearded Masterson sat with his Holley and Cohen-led defense team as the proceedings started just before 9 AM Thursday. Before sentencing was handed down, the court addressed the recently filed defense motion for a new trial. After listening to dense and constitutional-based arguments from both the defense and the District Attorney’s office, the September 5 filed motion was denied by Judge Olmedo
As his defense team reiterated in both trials and since the verdict, Masterson — who quickly was fired from the Netflix comedy The Ranch at the end of 2017 as the assault claims became known, and has been excluded from the That ’90s Show revival — has insisted he is not guilty and that sex with the three Jane Does was consensual. While not a formal defendant in the criminal case, the Church of Scientology and its role in allegedly seeking to cover up the rapes and punish the victims were frequently brought up in both trials.
After the new trial motion was denied today, victim impact statements from all three Jane Does in the case were read out in court.
“I believed him when he called me stupid, untalented, trash,” said the statement by Jane Doe #3, Masterson’s former girlfriend Christina B. Citing how “charming” Masterson could be and the harassment she says she and her family have suffered from the Church of Scientology since reporting the assaults by Masterson to the police years ago, the Jane Doe said that she was “regularly abused …and raped repeatedly” in the “cycle of abuse” that much of their relationship became. Stating the long term ramifications of the rapes by Masterson, the remarks from the former model were read out by LA County Deputy D.A. Ariel Anson.
“No one is alone,“ said a tearful Jane Doe # 2 of others in the case in her own victim statement. “Nowhere felt safe …I have severe PTSD, waves of panic attacks,” she went on to say. “You did this to me and all your victims intentionally.”
“You have to sit in a cell in shame,” added N. T. from the podium at the front of the courtroom to a stone-faced Masterson less than 30 feet away.
“I still have to contend with what you did to me …the rape deformed my ability to trust others,” stated the Jane Doe #2 with her voice often breaking. A former and self-described “brainwashed” member of Scientology, Jane Doe #2 also condemned the Church for “protecting its prized members” like the “pathetic” Masterson. She went on to claime, as the separate civil trial alleges, that she had been harassed and stalked by the Church for speaking out over the rape.
Pausing for several times throughout her often harrowing comments to compose herself, Jane Doe #1 gave the final victim statement today.
“I didn’t choose to be born into Scientology, just as I didn’t choose to be raped by Danny Masterson,” Jen B told the court. Telling those assembled how her Scientologist mother has shunned her since she went to the police almost 20 years ago to report being “drugged and raped” by Masterson, the passionate Jane Doe #1 also condemned the Church and its “code” against those who speak out against “untouchables” like Masterson.
“I wished I had reported him earlier to the police,” Jen B said of the years after he raped her. Crying during her 20-minute statement, the Jane Doe also told the court how her eldest daughter was mocked and bullied by schoolmates who called the girl’s mother a “liar” for reporting the rape. Jane Doe #1 noted that her then-nine-year old daughter was included in the NDA she was made to sign decades ago in front of then Masterson lawyer Marty Singer. “This is a real court, this is not a Celebrity Center,” she continued, claiming further harassment during the trials by Masterson family members and Scientology supporters.
Before sentencing Thursday, Judge Olmedo also heard from lawyers for the Jane Does involved in the temporarily paused civil trial against Masterson and the Church of Scientology for harassment and more. The attorneys wanted access to documents from the criminal trial that may or may not have been “compromised” due to a leak by Masterson’s previous defense team of the now-sanctioned Tom Mesereau and Sharon Appelbaum to a Scientology affiliated attorney
Masterson’s retrial began on April 24 and concluded on May 12 with the defense calling no witnesses. Closing arguments started on May 16 and ended early on May 17 with the final rebuttal delivered by Deputy LA County Attorney Reinhold Mueller before Judge Olmedo, Masterson and supporters, and the jury.
Facing prescribed sentencing of 15 to life on each charge under California statutes for the two guilty counts, Masterson was blank faced when the verdicts were read out this spring. Seated just a few feet away, just like today, his wife loudly sobbed, requiring Judge Olmedo to ask if Phillips and other family members needed to leave the DTLA courtroom so the proceedings could continue.
While most of the retrial was virtually empty except for the accused, attorneys, Sheriff’s deputies, Masterson supporters and a handful of journalists, today’s sentencing hearing was jam packed.
Among those in the shoulder-to-shoulder public gallery Thursday was Leah Remini.
One of a very few wearing a mask in court today, the Scientology and the Aftermath co-host is in a recently filed and amended legal action of her own against the Church for harassment. The ex-Scientologist has been a constant critic of the David Miscavige-led Church and its leader for their policies and alleged treatment on members and detractors. On the witness list for Masterson’s retrial, Remini was never called to the stand – though she was in attendance for the proceeding’s opening days.
However, Remini did speak in court today, in a fashion. At one point Thursday, as the court was taking a short break before sentencing, Remini and a publicist for the defense got into a brief exchange at the back of the courtroom. The King of Queens star exclaimed “you got the wrong one girl!” and the publicist replied “don’t talk to me!” as Remini walked by.
With a number of onlookers turned away from the full courtroom on the 9th floor of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, outside the building saw a pack of paparazzi and camera crews hoping to catch Masterson’s family arriving this morning.
Now that sentencing has occurred in Masterson’s criminal trial, the civil trial could start up in a matter of weeks. The judge in that case has scheduled a hearing for September 27 in which it is likely the stay will be lifted.
Awaiting the results of an early October restitution hearing in the criminal case, the civil case could reveal much more of the fallout from the Jane Does taking their allegations to the authorities.
Jane Does #2 and #3 “have displayed tremendous strength and bravery, by coming forward to law enforcement and participating directly in two grueling criminal trials,” said Alison Anderson, partner at Boies Shiller Flexner LLP, and attorney for the two women today. “Despite persistent harassment, obstruction and intimidation, these courageous women helped hold a ruthless sexual predator accountable today, and they are not stopping there. They are eager to soon tell the fuller story of how Scientology and its enablers tried desperately to keep them from coming forward.”
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