A Los Angeles jury found “That 70s Show” actor Danny Masterson guilty on two out of three counts of rape on Wednesday.
Masterson, 47, was tried for a second time over charges he raped three women at his Hollywood Hills home in the early 2000s.
The jury deliberated for more than a week before reaching their verdict, finding him guilty in two instances but being hung on a third count.
Jurors convicted Masterson of sexually assaulting victims Jen B. and N. Trout, but were unable to reach a verdict on the allegations against the actor’s former girlfriend, Christina Bixler.
Jurors in the first trial deadlocked in November but in the second trial, Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo allowed more evidence to be heard, including testimony that Masterson had drugged his victims before sexually assaulting them.
Each of the women — including a “prior bad act” witness who testified she met Masterson at a party in Toronto in 2000— testified they became nauseous after ingesting drinks handed to them by the actor.
Bixler claimed the actor was emotionally and sexually abusive. She said Masterson raped her in his Hollywood Hills home in November 2001 and had refused to stop when she told him she didn’t want to have sex.
N. Trout also testified Masterson attacked her at his home after a night of drinking with friends. Prosecutors said Masterson raped N. Trout so viciously that she threw up in her mouth and begged Masterson to at least use a condom.
Jen B., who was born into a family of Scientologists, testified how she was part of Masterson’s circle of friends, which included Lisa Marie Presley.
She said she went to Masterson’s home in April 2003 to pick up a set of keys. After she drank a drink offered by the actor, Jen B. said she became sick. She said Masterson carried her upstairs into his bathroom where he touched her breasts, but she was too weak to stop him.
Jen B. said Masterson then raped her in his bedroom. She recalled Masterson grabbed a gun from his nightstand and threatened her. She filed a police report in 2004 but Masterson was never arrested. She then went back to authorities in 2016.
During the first trial, the accusation of drugging could only be implied when the women each testified they felt disoriented or lost consciousness.
Masterson’s attorney, Philip Cohen, refuted those claims and reiterated during his opening statement that the actor wasn’t facing drugging charges.
While the Church of Scientology was not a defendant in the case, the three women alleged Church officials and followers of the religion had played a part in discouraging them from reporting Masterson, who is a prominent member in the Church, to police when the incidents happened.
This played a big part in explaining why the women took so long to come forward. Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Ariel Anson had said during the trial three women had been silenced by church officials and discouraged from going to the police with their claims. Masterson was eventually charged on June 17, 2020 over the rapes.
“Like all predators, the defendant carefully sought out his prey,” Anson said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Most of his victims are members of the Church of Scientology, and that makes sense. The church tells his victims: ‘Rape isn’t rape. You cause this. And above all, you can’t go to law enforcement.’”
In his closing argument, Cohen pointed to discrepancies from the women’s testimony on the stand compared to statements they had made to police. He claimed prosecutors had no evidence the women were drugged by his client.
Cohen also implied Jen B. had made up testimony when she said Masterson had brandished a gun at her, and said N. Trout embellished being drugged by the actor.
The sex terrorist was immediately remanded in custody following the verdict. Masterson’s wife, Bijou Phillips, was visibly distraught and sobbed as the conviction was read in court.
The rapist will be sentenced on August 4 and could face between 30 years and life in prison.