On Friday, a judge ordered That ’70s Show actor Danny Masterson must stand trial on three counts of rape. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo made the ruling on the fourth day of a preliminary hearing.
Masterson, who pleaded not guilty during a January court appearance, faces up to 45 years to life in prison if convicted on all three charges. Each of the three victims gave emotional accounts of how he allegedly raped them between 2001 and 2003 during the hearing, which began on Tuesday.
As reported by the Associated Press, Judge Olmedo found the women’s testimony credible for the purposes of a preliminary hearing, where the bar for sufficient evidence is much lower than at trial.
Masterson’s attorney, Thomas Mesereau, insists the disgraced actor had consensual sex with the women and repeatedly challenged the women on discrepancies in their stories in the two decades since they were raped. He also suggested the prosecution was biased against the Church of Scientology.
One woman, identified as Jen B, testified on Tuesday that Masterson raped her at his house when she became “blurry” 20 minutes after the first drink he gave her. Another woman, Christina B., said she had to pull Masterson’s hair to stop his rape attempt. The third woman, identified as N. Trout in court, said the actor sexually assaulted her after not adhering to preset conditions and boundaries.
All three women are former Scientologists, and say church teachings kept them from reporting their accusations to the police for years.
The 45-year-old actor has been free on bail since his arrest in June 2020.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, you can contact the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network via RAINN.org or by calling 800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673).