Actor Danny Masterson of “That ’70s Show” received a sentence of 30 years to life in jail for raping two women. On Thursday, the ladies claimed that the Church of Scientology tried to frighten them into keeping quiet by defending the actor.
The 47-year-old actor and a well-known Scientologist was found guilty in May after a second trial. He had played in the classic TV comedy for eight seasons up till 2006. On the accusation that he raped a third lady, the jury couldn’t agree.
The maximum penalty permitted by law was handed down by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo. In 25 and half years, Masterson, who has been imprisoned since his conviction, will be eligible for release.
Masterson met the ladies through the Church of Scientology, which is one of the reasons why the case gained attention. The victims also said that the Church demotivated them from taking help of the law.
The Church of Scientology refuted this assertion and asserted that Masterson’s religion should not have been a factor in the proceedings, calling it “an unprecedented violation of the First Amendment.”
Scientology claimed following the sentencing that the prosecution’s evidence was founded on “fabrications about the Church to introduce prejudice and inflame bigotry.”
The ladies said that Masterson drugged and assaulted them in separate events at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003.
On Thursday, while his wife, actress Bijou Phillips, and his brother, “Malcolm in the Middle” actor Christopher Masterson, sat close by, Masterson exhibited no emotion. He was given the opportunity to speak, but he refused.
“I forgive you. Your sickness is no longer mine to bear,” said one victim, identified as Jane Doe 2 in the case.
The lady said that the Church of Scientology served as an “enabler and protector” for Masterson and that the group “terrorised and harassed” her when she sought to speak out about her rape. She was a member of the church when she first met Masterson. “Rape is a theft of the spirit,” she added, adding that she had PTSD and a decline in her once-promising acting career.
The other victim, known only as Jane Doe 1, claimed that her mother, a Scientologist, had abandoned her after she had disparaged the organisation in court. “I didn’t choose to be born in Scientology just like I didn’t choose to be raped,” she said. Her statement was an accusation against the organization of wanting to silence and terrorize her in the rape case.
The “King of Queens” star Leah Remini, a former Scientologist and outspoken opponent of the group, supported Jane Doe 1 as she spoke in court while standing with her arms around her.
The victims pleaded with the judge to condemn Masterson to life in prison, claiming that he destroyed their lives.
The victims were “strong, they were committed to making sure that justice gets served and today they got it,” said Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller following the sentence.
According to Masterson’s defence lawyer Shawn Holley, the case had what she called “substantial errors,” and as a result, she intended to appeal.
Masterson’s career was harmed by the accusations. He was let go from the Netflix series “The Ranch” when he was originally accused of abusing several women in 2017.