That ’70s Show actor Danny Masterson was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison on Thursday for raping two women.
The decision came after a Los Angeles jury found Masterson, 47, guilty of two of three counts of forcible rape during a retrial in May.
Jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on the third count, which alleged Masterson raped a longtime girlfriend. The third count was declared a mistrial and has been dismissed by prosecutors, who said they will not retry the charges.
Danny Masterson found guilty of 2 counts of rape in 2nd trial
As Masterson’s sentence was being read aloud in the courtroom, Judge Charlaine Olmedo had harsh words for the once-beloved actor.
“Mr. Masterson, you are not the victim here. Your actions 20 years ago took away another person’s choice and voice,” Olmedo said. “Your actions 20 years ago today were criminal, and that’s why you are here.”
The judge allowed all three women in the trial — identified as Jane Doe 1, 2 and 3 —to give victim impact statements at the sentencing.
Two of the victims read their statements aloud. The third, Masterson’s former girlfriend, had hers read by a prosecutor, according to journalist Meghann Cuniff, who was present at the sentencing hearing.
Jane Doe 1 told the courtroom she hoped Masterson would be handed a life sentence. She said she regrets not reporting him to police sooner than she did.
“You relish in hurting women. It is your addiction. It is without question your favourite thing to do,” said Jane Doe 2.
She said she forgives Masterson and encouraged him to “learn something” and “read books” while in prison.
In the statement provided by Masterson’s ex-girlfriend, she said she now suffers from several debilitating ailments, including anxiety, as a result of his abuse.
Masterson’s lawyer told the judge the actor would not be speaking in the courtroom. His legal team asked the judge for the sentence to be 15 years, served concurrently.
Bijou Phillips, Masterson’s wife, was seen wearing dark sunglasses in the courtroom and appeared to be crying at some points throughout the hearing.
Cuniff said actor Leah Remini was also in the courtroom. Remini, a former scientologist, has been vocally outspoken against Masterson and the Church of Scientology. In August, Remini sued the Church of Scientology for harassment, stalking, defamation and myriad other alleged illegal activities.
Masterson pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. The retrial was called after last year’s original trial on the same three counts ended in a mistrial when a jury deadlocked, failing to reach unanimous verdicts.
Mistrial declared in Danny Masterson rape trial, jury ‘hopelessly deadlocked’
During the second trial this year, deputy district attorney Reinhold Mueller and his team tried to paint Masterson as a serial rapist who has been protected by high-ranking officials in the Church of Scientology. (Masterson and his family are all members of the church.) They claimed Masterson, on separate occasions, put drugs into the drinks of a longtime girlfriend and two other women he knew through the church before he raped them.
Masterson did not face any drug-related charges. However, two of his lawyers faced financial sanctions after they leaked sensitive trial information about Masterson’s accusers to the Church of Scientology.
The former TV star did not testify during the retrial, and his lawyers called no witnesses. The defence argued that the acts were consensual and attempted to discredit the women’s stories by highlighting changes and inconsistencies over time, which they said showed signs of coordination between them.
Masterson has been in custody since his verdict was announced in May, as he was deemed a potential flight risk.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.
— With files from The Associated Press
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