LOS ANGELES (AP) — A choose declared a mistrial Wednesday on the rape trial of “That ’70s Present” actor Danny Masterson after jurors, who have been leaning strongly towards acquitting him, have been deadlocked following the monthlong trial during which the Church of Scientology performed a supporting position.
Masterson, 46, was charged in Los Angeles Superior Courtroom with the rape of three ladies, together with a former girlfriend, in his Hollywood Hills dwelling between 2001 and 2003. He pleaded not responsible and his lawyer stated the acts have been all consensual. All three ladies have been members of the church on the time, and Masterson stays one.
“I discover the jurors hopelessly deadlocked,” Decide Charlaine Olmedo declared after inquiring whether or not there was something the court docket may do to maneuver them nearer to reaching a unanimous determination. She set a March date for a retrial.
Olmedo had ordered jurors to take Thanksgiving week off and preserve deliberating after they stated on Nov. 18 that they may not attain a consensus. The jury started deliberations anew Monday after two alternates changed jurors who had COVID-19.
Jurors stated they’d voted seven occasions Tuesday and Wednesday with out having the ability to attain consensus on any of the three counts.
The jury foreman stated solely two jurors voted for conviction on the primary depend, 4 voted for conviction on the second depend and 5 voted to convict on the third depend.
The outcome was a critical setback for prosecutors, and for the three ladies who stated they have been in search of lengthy overdue justice.
Two of the alleged victims within the case issued an announcement saying they have been disillusioned “Masterson has evaded felony accountability for his deplorable acts. Nevertheless, we’re collectively resolved to proceed our battle for justice.”
Two of the ladies and the husband of 1 are suing Masterson, the Church of Scientology, its chief David Miscavige and others for allegedly stalking, harassing and intimidating them after they sought to show Masterson.
Masterson left court docket together with his spouse, actor and mannequin Bijou Phillips, with out talking to reporters.
The proceedings came about amid a flurry of circumstances on each coasts with #MeToo connotations, together with the Los Angeles trial of Harvey Weinstein simply down the corridor from Masterson’s. In New York, Kevin Spacey received a sexual misconduct lawsuit introduced by actor Anthony Rapp in New York, and a jury ordered director and screenwriter Paul Haggis to pay $10 million in a civil case there.
However on the Masterson trial, as on the Haggis trial, #MeToo implications have been largely eclipsed by the specter of Scientology, regardless of the choose’s insistence that the church not turn out to be a de facto defendant.
Deputy District Lawyer Reinhold Mueller stated the church had tried to silence the ladies and that was the rationale it took 20 years for the case to get to trial.
Masterson lawyer Philip Cohen stated the church was talked about 700 occasions throughout trial and argued that it turned an excuse for the prosecution’s failure to construct a plausible case towards Masterson, a distinguished Scientologist.
Cohen stated he would file a movement to dismiss the case, primarily based on the best way the jury voted. He stated jurors supplied further insights after the mistrial ruling that have been useful however wouldn’t focus on what they informed him.
“You all the time surprise as a lawyer if what you’re doing in court docket on daily basis is making any inroads … with the jury,” Cohen stated. “Clearly we made inroads.”
Jurors have been escorted out of the courthouse with out talking with reporters.
Masterson didn’t testify. Cohen offered no protection testimony and as an alternative centered on inconsistencies within the accounts of the three accusers, who he stated modified their tales over time and spoke with one another earlier than going to police.
“The important thing to this case is just not once they reported it,” Cohen stated throughout closing arguments. “It’s what they stated once they reported it. What they stated after they reported it. And what they stated at trial.”
Mueller argued that Masterson was a person “for whom ‘no’ by no means meant ‘no,’” as proven by the graphic and emotional testimony of the three accusers.
Two ladies stated they have been served drinks by Masterson and have become woozy or handed out earlier than being violently raped. One stated she thought she would die as Masterson held a pillow over her face.
An ex-girlfriend stated she awoke to discovering Masterson having intercourse together with her with out her consent. The protection stated her claims have been undermined as a result of she later had intercourse with him after they broke up.
Cohen informed jurors they may acquit Masterson in the event that they thought he “really and fairly believed” the ladies consented to having intercourse. Mueller countered that no one would consider the acts described have been consensual, reminding jurors that one lady repeatedly informed him “no,” pulled his hair and tried to get out from beneath him.
Mueller informed jurors to not be swayed by protection hypothesis and stated contradictions within the victims’ testimony have been indicators of authenticity versus accounts that had been scripted.
The fees date to a interval when Masterson was on the peak of his fame, starring from 1998 till 2006 as Steven Hyde on Fox’s “That ’70s Present.” The present made stars of Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace and is getting an upcoming Netflix reboot with “That ’90s Present.”
Masterson had reunited with Kutcher on the Netflix comedy “The Ranch” however was written off the present when an LAPD investigation was revealed in December 2017.