Danny Masterson sentenced to 30 years to life for the rapes of 2 women in 'That '70s Show' case
Danny Masterson, star of "That '70s Show," has been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for raping two women. The victims expressed relief after decades of suffering, while Masterson's attorneys plan to appeal.
In a groundbreaking verdict, actor Danny Masterson, best known for his role in "That '70s Show," has been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for the rape of two women. The judge delivered the sentence after hearing powerful statements from the victims, who spoke about the lasting damage caused by Masterson's actions.
One of the women, who was raped by Masterson in 2003, expressed the profound impact of the crime, stating, "When you raped me, you stole from me. That's what rape is, a theft of the spirit." She described him as "pathetic, disturbed, and completely violent," and asserted that the world is better off with him behind bars.
The sentencing took place in the Los Angeles Superior Court, with Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo presiding. Masterson, who has been in custody since May, appeared in court wearing a suit. Despite the emotional testimonies of the victims, he showed no visible reaction. He maintains his innocence, and his defense attorneys plan to appeal the verdict.
The second woman, also a victim of Masterson's rape, emphasized his lack of remorse for the pain he caused. She expressed regret for not reporting him to the police sooner, stating, "I knew he belonged behind bars for the safety of all the women he came into contact with." Her statement highlighted the importance of holding perpetrators accountable and ensuring the safety of others.
Masterson's trial was a retrial after an initial jury failed to reach verdicts on three counts of rape. The second trial resulted in his conviction on two counts, while the jury could not reach a verdict on the third count. Both rapes occurred in Masterson's Hollywood home in 2003, during the height of his fame on "That '70s Show."
The judge handed down the maximum sentence allowed by law, rejecting the defense's motion for a new trial. Masterson will be eligible for parole after serving 25 1/2 years, but he could potentially be held in prison for life. Judge Olmedo addressed Masterson directly, stating, "Your actions 20 years ago took away another person's voice and choice. One way or another, you will have to come to terms with your prior actions and their consequences."
During the sentencing hearing, Masterson's defense sought a sentence of 15 years to life, arguing for leniency due to the impact on his life and the well-being of his young daughter. However, the prosecution requested the full 30 years to life sentence. The judge ultimately sided with the prosecution, considering the severity of the crimes committed.
Following the hearing, Masterson's lawyer, Shawn Holley, expressed confidence in overturning the convictions through an appeal. Holley stated that a team of appellate lawyers has identified significant evidentiary and constitutional issues with the case.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors alleged that Masterson used his affiliation with the Church of Scientology, of which all three women were also members, to evade consequences for his actions. The victims attributed their hesitation in reporting him to the church's influence and claimed to have faced shunning and ostracization when they did come forward.
One of the women, who was born into the church like Masterson, revealed the devastating consequences of her decision to report the rape. She said, "I lost everything. I lost my religion. I lost my ability to contact anyone I'd known or loved my entire life." Her testimony shed light on the culture of silence and fear that can surround such cases.
The Church of Scientology denied any policy discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct and refuted allegations of harassment. However, the victims' testimonies highlighted the difficulties they faced within the church and the impact it had on their lives.
The conviction and sentencing of Masterson represent a significant victory in the #MeToo era, particularly for Los Angeles prosecutors. It serves as a reminder that perpetrators will be held accountable for their actions, regardless of their status or influence. The verdict also echoes the conviction of Harvey Weinstein, further highlighting the progress being made in addressing sexual assault and harassment in the entertainment industry.