Mistrial Declared in Actor Danny Masterson's Rape Trial

"I find the jurors hopelessly deadlocked," Judge Charlaine Olmedo declared.

Wade Payne/Invision/AP, File

A judge declared a mistrial Wednesday after jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked at the trial of "That '70s Show" actor Danny Masterson, who was charged with three rapes.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo had ordered the jurors to take Thanksgiving week off and keep deliberating after they told her on Nov. 18 that they could not come to a consensus about the rape allegations after a monthlong trial in which the Church of Scientology played a supporting role.

Masterson, 46, was charged with the rape of three women, including a former girlfriend, in his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003. He pleaded not guilty and his lawyer said the acts were all consensual. All three women were members of the church at the time, and Masterson remains one.

"I find the jurors hopelessly deadlocked," Judge Charlaine Olmedo declared after inquiring whether there was anything the court could do to move them closer to reaching a unanimous decision.
Jurors said they had voted seven times Tuesday and Wednesday without being able to reach consensus on any of the three counts.

The jury foreman said only two jurors voted for conviction on the first count, four voted for conviction on the second count and five voted to convict on the third count.

Jurors were forced to start deliberations from scratch on Monday when two had to be dismissed because they came down with COVID-19. They deliberated for two days but still could not reach verdicts.

The result was a serious setback for prosecutors, and for the three women who said they were seeking long overdue justice.

"While we are disappointed with the outcome in this trial, we thank the jurors for their service. We also want to give our heartfelt appreciation to the victims for bravely stepping forward and recounting their harrowing experiences. We also are thankful for the hard work of the prosecution team and we will now consider our next steps as it relates to prosecuting this case," the LA County District Attorney's Office said in a statement.

The proceedings took place amid a flurry of cases on both coasts with #MeToo connotations, including the Los Angeles trial of Harvey Weinstein just down the hall from Masterson's. In New York, Kevin Spacey won a sexual misconduct conduct lawsuit brought by actor Anthony Rapp in New York, and a jury ordered director and screenwriter Paul Haggis to pay $10 million in a civil case there.

The Church of Scientology issued the following statement:

"The Church was not a party to this case. Nevertheless, the District Attorney unconscionably centered his prosecution on religion and fabrications about the Church hoping to prejudice the jury and inflame bigotry. The DA had an anti-Scientology agenda orchestrated, scripted and pushed by Leah Remini," the statement says. "The DA elicited answers from the Jane Does concerning allegations about the Church that were totally false. Even more egregious is the DA's blatant misrepresentations and misinterpretations of our doctrines and beliefs. Quite simply, the DA's descriptions of Scientology beliefs and practices were, uniformly, dead wrong. The Church has no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of Scientologists, or of anyone, to law enforcement. Quite the opposite. Church policy explicitly demands Scientologists abide by all laws of the land. There is zero truth to any of the testimony that the Church has harassed or stalked the Jane Does. Investigation of the allegations has over and over shown them to be baseless. But the Jane Does, urged on by Leah Remini, all filed a civil suit against the Church in an attempted shakedown for cash. So it is no surprise they repeated their false accusations against the Church--without any evidence whatsoever, since there is none. Remini's only interest is in continuing her profitmaking campaign of hate and propaganda. She seeks vengeance for her expulsion from the Church and her primary source of income since that expulsion has been the cash sale of that propaganda and hate."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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