By ANDREW DALTON (AP Entertainment Writer)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge sentenced “That ’70s Show” star Danny Masterson Thursday to 30 years to life in prison for raping two women.
“When you raped me, you stole from me,” said a woman who was convicted of rape by Masterson in 2003. “This is rape, a theft of the mind.”
“They are pathetic, disturbed and completely violent,” she said. “The world is better off with you in prison.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo handed down the sentence against Masterson, 47, after hearing statements from the women and pleas from defense attorneys for fairness.
The actor, who has been in custody since May, sat in the courtroom wearing a suit. Masterson watched the women without any visible reaction as they spoke. He maintains his innocence and his lawyers plan to appeal.
The other woman who found Masterson guilty of rape said he had “not shown an ounce of remorse for the pain he caused.” She told the judge: “I knew he belonged behind bars for the safety of all the women he came into contact with. I’m so sorry and I’m so upset. I wish I had reported him to the police sooner.”
After an initial jury failed to reach a verdict in three rape cases in December and declared a mistrial, prosecutors retried Masterson on all three counts earlier this year.
Masterson waived his right to speak before his sentencing and showed no visible reaction after the judge’s decision, nor did the many family members sitting next to him. His wife, actress Bijou Phillips, was tearful at the start of the hearing.
At his second trial on May 31, Masterson was found guilty on two of three counts of rape. Both attacks occurred at Masterson’s Hollywood-area home in 2003, when he was at the height of his fame on the Fox sitcom “That ’70s Show.”
They were unable to reach a verdict on the third count, the allegation that Masterson had also raped a long-time girlfriend.
The judge sentenced the actor after rejecting a defense request for a new trial that was heard earlier Thursday. The penalty was the maximum permitted by law. That means Masterson will be eligible for parole after serving 25 1/2 years, but could remain in prison for life.
“I know that you sit here steadfast on your claim of innocence and therefore undoubtedly feel like a victim of a justice system that has failed you,” Olmedo told Masterson before announcing the sentence. “But Mr. Masterson, you are not the victim here. Your actions 20 years ago took away another person’s voice and choices. One way or another, you will have to deal with your previous actions and their consequences.”
The defense requested that the sentences for both convictions be imposed concurrently, asking for a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. Prosecutors asked for the full 30-year life sentence that Masterson could receive.
“It is his life that will be affected by your decision today,” Masterson’s attorney, Shawn Holley, told the judge before sentencing. “And the life of his 9-year-old daughter, who means the world to him and he means the world to.”
After the hearing, Holley said in a statement: “Mr. Masterson did not commit the crimes for which he was convicted.” She said a team of appellate attorneys had identified “a number of significant evidentiary and constitutional issues” surrounding his convictions, which they were confident would be overturned.
Prosecutors alleged that Masterson used his prominence in the Church of Scientology – of which all three women were also members at the time – to avoid consequences for decades after the attacks, and the women blamed the church for their hesitation because of Masterson to call the police.
At the sentencing, one of the women, who like Masterson was born into the church, said she was shunned and ostracized because she went to authorities in 2004.
“I lost everything. I lost my religion. I lost the ability to connect with everyone I knew or loved my whole life,” she said. “I didn’t exist outside of the Scientology world. With In ’29 I had to start my life from scratch. It seemed like the world I knew didn’t want me to live.”
The church said in a statement after the trial that there are “no policies prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal behavior by anyone – Scientologists or not – to law enforcement.” It also denied ever molesting any of the women to have.
The woman’s 2004 police report did not reveal any charges, but she returned to authorities when she learned they were investigating Masterson again in 2016. The other two women had waited more than 15 years before reporting him to anyone other than church officials.
The women testified in both trials that they were at Masterson’s home in 2003 when he drugged them and then forcibly raped them.
They said Thursday that the trauma plagued them in the decades that followed, damaging their relationships and filling their lives with fear. But they said his sentence was a relief for them.
“I don’t have to carry your shame around with me anymore,” said the first woman to speak. “Now you have to endure this shame. You have to sit in a cell and hold it.”
Masterson starred on That ’70s Show from 1998 to 2006 along with Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace.
He reunited with Kutcher in the 2016 Netflix comedy “The Ranch,” but was written out of the series when the Los Angeles Police Department’s investigation came to light the following year.
While these investigations began before a wave of women rocked Hollywood with stories about Harvey Weinstein in October 2017, Masterson’s conviction and conviction still represents a huge #MeToo success for Los Angeles prosecutors, as does Weinstein’s conviction even in the last year.
https://www.twincities.com/2023/09/07/that-70s-show-actor-danny-masterson-gets-30-years-to-life-in-prison-for-rapes-of-2-women/ ‘The ’70s Show’ actor Danny Masterson is sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for raping two women – Twin Cities