Danny Masterson – the actor best known for his role in the TV sitcom “That ’70s Show” – received a sentence of 30 years to life in prison on Thursday for raping two women roughly 20 years ago. Outside Los Angeles Superior Court, prosecutor Reinhold Mueller said the sentence – the maximum allowed by law – was appropriate.
“Just because it’s a delayed reporting, even if it’s been 20 years, it still matters, a crime still happened and somebody needs to be held accountable, despite the length of the time.
The 47-year-old actor and prominent Scientologist, who starred in “That ’70s Show” for eight seasons until 2006, and was convicted in May. A jury deadlocked on a charge that he raped a third woman. Defence attorney Shawn Holley said Masterson planned to appeal his conviction.
“The errors which occurred in this case are substantial and unfortunately led to verdicts which were not supported by the evidence. Mr. Masterson did not commit the crimes for which he has been convicted and we and the appellate lawyers, who are the brightest and best in the country, are confident that these convictions will be overturned.”
Masterson appeared composed as the women gave victim impact statements. He was offered the chance to speak, but declined. The women said Masterson drugged and raped them in separate incidents between 2001 and 2003 at his house in the Hollywood Hills.
The case also drew attention in part because Masterson met the women through the Church of Scientology, and his accusers said the organisation discouraged them from contacting law enforcement. The Church of Scientology denied that claim and said Masterson’s religion should not have been an issue in the case.
One victim, identified only as Jane Doe 2 in the trial, was a member of the Church of Scientology when she met Masterson and described the religious organisation as an ‘enabler and protector’ for him and said she was ‘terrorized and harassed’ by the church when she tried to speak out about her rape.
Former Scientologist and vocal critic of the church Leah Remini – known for her role in “King of Queens” – was also in the courtroom to offer support for the victims. Masterson, who has been in jail since his conviction, will be eligible for parole in 25-1/2 years.
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