Danny Masterson was ordered Friday to stand trial on three counts of rape by a judge who found the three female accusers' delays in reporting their cases reasonable given the tenets of the Church of Scientology, of which the actor is a longtime adherent.
"I found all three witnesses to be credible and the evidence sufficient to support the charges," said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo, who ordered the 45-year-old defendant to report back to her courtroom June 7 for arraignment.
She directed Masterson to surrender his passport by the time of his arraignment, granting a request by the District Attorney's Office. He remains free on $3.3 million bail.
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Masterson, who's best known for appearing on "That '70s Show" and "The Ranch," has denied the allegations that he raped the three women at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003.
The criminal complaint, filed last June, alleges that Masterson raped a 23-year-old woman between January and December 2001. He is also charged with raping a woman who was 28 at the time and a 23-year-old woman he had invited to his home some time between October and December 2003, according to Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller.
Sharon Applebaum, one of Masterson's lawyers, argued that two of the accusers, known only as Jennifer B. and N. Trout, had consensual sex with the actor. She said the rape alleged by the third alleged victim, former Masterson flame Christina B., never happened.
"He did not force anyone to have sex with him," the defense attorney said.
Applebaum also accused the three women of colluding against Masterson, saying they were in constant contact with each other and eventually sued him in a case that is now in arbitration. Applebaum also said Jennifer B. previously obtained money from Masterson in 2004, and told the judge that none of the women reported their allegations to police quickly and all of them changed their stories over time.
Mueller argued there was no collusion and that the women did their best to describe what happened in each individual case.
"These were not rehearsed statements, they were heartfelt," Mueller said.
The prosecutor said that N. Trout made it clear to Masterson the night of her visit to his home that she did not want to have sex with him.
The judge noted that the women hesitated to contact police for fear of running afoul of Church of Scientology rules and ending up isolated from friends and family members. Christina B. told the judge Wednesday that she learned that if she violated any church tenet, the hierarchy would "absolutely destroy me."
Jennifer B. testified she was a second-generation church member when she met Masterson. Christina B. said she became a member of the faith after she met the actor.
The District Attorney's Office declined to file sexual assault charges against Masterson in two other alleged incidents, citing insufficient evidence on one and the statute of limitations on the other.
Masterson was arrested last June 17 by the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division.
In December 2017, Netflix announced that Masterson had been fired from the Emmy-winning scripted comedy "The Ranch" amid sexual assault allegations.
The actor said then that he was "very disappointed" and "it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused." He also "denied the outrageous allegations" and said he looked forward to "clearing my name once and for all."
The civil suit filed in August 2019 against Masterson and the Church of Scientology by the three women involved in the criminal case and one woman who was not a member of the church alleges they were stalked and harassed after filing sexual assault allegations against the actor with Los Angeles police.
That case has been sent to arbitration except for the part involving the non-church member.