A Los Angeles judge ruled today that Danny Masterson will have to stand trial again on a trio of rape charges.
With the now bearded That ‘70s Show alum in the downtown courtroom Tuesday, Judge Charlaine Olmedo rejected a defense motion to dismiss the case and formally set March 29 as the start of a second trial with jury selection. After the first trial was declared a mistrial on November 30, the LA Superior Court judge at that time quickly penciled in a March 27 date for the kick-off of a second trial.
Ending weeks of hesitancy, LA County Deputy District Attorneys Reinhold Mueller and Ariel Anson announced near the beginning of the today’s session that they would indeed prosecute a second trial.
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Just under two months after the first trial resulted in a hung jury and mistrial, today’s hearing in the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center follows a January 5 filing by Masterson attorneys Phillip K. Cohen and Karen Goldstein asking Judge Olmedo to use her judicial discretion to toss out the old case.
Not unexpected, the motion specifically took exception with the testimony of the three Jane Does at the heart of the case.
“The contradictory nature of their trial testimony is not going to credibly change,” the 16-page paperwork stated, drawing extensively from an interview with the jury foreman on behind closed doors impressions of the key witnesses. Today, as Judge Olmedo pointed out that new witnesses, new evidence or even Masterson himself taking the stand, could certainly change any jury outcome in a second trial, Cohan unsuccessful argued for the motion after the DA’s office made it clear they were ready for a Round 2.
First arrested in 2020 over claims that occurred between 2001 and 2003, Masterson was taking a hard look at up to 45 years in a Golden State prison if found guilty on all thee rape counts in the first trial. The actor, who was quickly fired from the Ashton Kutcher co-starring Netflix comedy The Ranch at the end of 2017 as assault claims became known, always has denied the sex was anything but consensual. Present for every day of the first trial and the jury deliberations last fall, Masterson remains free on bail of $3.3 million.
As the attorneys sparred today in the criminal case, Masterson also faces a civil case from a number of the Jane Does and others over claims of harassment and more by the actor and the Church of Scientology.
All of the core Jane Does were Scientologists, as is long time member Masterson.
In the first trial, they all claimed that the Church tried with threats of expulsion and other consequences to limit and re-direct to varying degrees both their understanding of the alleged assaults and any attempt to go to the LAPD or other law enforcement After scuffles in California courts, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the David Miscavige-led organization’s petition for a writ of certiorari last October to move the matter to arbitration. All of which currently leaves the civil case in a state of suspended animation pending the results of the criminal case – – which clearly now will go deep into this year.
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