Danny Masterson's lawyer says rape charges are 'politically motivated'

Danny Masterson’s lawyer says three rape charges against That ’70s Show star are being ‘politically motivated’ and claims LA District Attorney is using case to win re-election

  • The three rape charges actor Danny Masterson, 44, is facing are ‘politically motivated,’ his attorney Tom Mesereau claimed on Monday in LA 
  • That ’70s Show star and Scientologist is accused of raping three women in separate incidents at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003
  • Mesereau attacked LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey, accusing her of political motives for bringing the charges against Masterson
  •  He suggested that Lacey was using such a high profile celebrity case to help her win Tuesday’s highly contested election for Los Angeles DA
  • At Monday’s hearing Mesereau asked Judge Sam Ohta to ban the press from court because publicity about the case could ‘prejudice’ jurors
  • Judge Ohta denied his request and refused to kick reporters out of court 
  • Masterson faces 45 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged 
  • Masterson was scheduled to be arraigned and enter pleas Monday 
  • But after hearing that the prosecution needs more time to assemble discovery evidence, Judge Ohta rescheduled the arraignment hearing to January 6, 2021 

The three rape charges actor Danny Masterson is facing are ‘politically motivated,’ his attorney, Tom Mesereau claimed on Monday at a criminal court hearing in downtown Los Angeles.

The 44-year-old That ’70s Show star and prominent Scientologist – who didn’t show up at LA Superior Court – is accused of raping three women in separate incidents at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003.

Mesereau – who defended Michael Jackson when the pop star was charged with child molestation – has in past hearings attacked LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey, accusing her of political motives for bringing the charges against Masterson.

The distinguished lawyer suggested that Lacey was using such a high profile celebrity case to help her win Tuesday’s highly contested election for Los Angeles DA.

And at Monday’s hearing Mesereau – distinctive in an elegant, dark suit and flowing white hair – repeated his argument that the charges are ‘politically motivated’ and asked Judge Sam Ohta to ban the press from court because publicity about the case could ‘prejudice’ jurors at Masterson’s future trial.

Judge Ohta denied his request and refused to kick reporters out of court.

The three rape charges actor Danny Masterson is facing are ‘politically motivated,’ his attorney, Tom Mesereau claimed on Monday at a criminal court hearing in downtown Los Angeles 

The 44-year-old That ’70s Show star and prominent Scientologist  (pictured in Sepetmber with Mesereau, right) is accused of raping three women in separate incidents at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003. Mesereau has in past hearings attacked LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey, accusing her of political motives for bringing the charges against Masterson

Masterson was scheduled to be arraigned and enter pleas Monday but after hearing that the prosecution needs more time to assemble discovery evidence it must provide to the defense team, Judge Ohta rescheduled the arraignment hearing to January 6, 2021

The TV star was allowed to remain free on the $3.3 million bail he has been out on since his arrest in June.

Masterson – who is facing 45 years to life in prison if convicted – was able to skip court under a special waiver that allows defendants not to appear because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Last month, his legal team tried to get the rape charges dismissed, arguing that the alleged crimes are beyond the statute of limitations, a ‘lack of due diligence’ in the police investigations, some witnesses are dead and others have faded memories.

The distinguished lawyer suggested that Lacey (pictured) was using such a high profile celebrity case to help her win Tuesday’s highly contested election for Los Angeles DA

But Judge Erelanor Hunter – ruling that the rape charges are not covered by the statute of limitations – denied the motion to dismiss the charges.

Judge Hunter also denied a motion from Masterson’s lawyers asking for the press to be prevented from covering the case.

Masterson – who has been married to actress and model Bijou Phillips since 2011 – stands charged with raping a 23-year-old woman between January and December 2001, raping a 28-year-old woman in April 2003, and raping another 23 year-old woman between October and December 2003.

He was also accused of sexual assault in two other cases but the DA’s office said they declined to file charges on those, one for insufficient evidence and the other based on the statute of limitations.

Last year four women – including the three alleged victims in the criminal case – filed a civil lawsuit against Masterson, claiming he drugged, raped and sexually assaulted them in the early 2000s.

The lawsuit also named the Church of Scientology and its leader David Miscavige as defendants, claiming the women were stalked in a ‘conspiracy to cover up that Daniel Masterson sexually assaulted four young women’.

Two of the women named in the suit were Masterson’s ex-girlfriends – Chrissie Bixler and Bobette Riales – while the other two are listed as Jane Does.

Bixler is being lent support by actress Leah Remini, a former Scientologist who left the religion and is now one of its harshest critics, campaigning vehemently against it with a reality TV show called Scientology and the Aftermath. Remini was at the Masterson criminal court hearing last month.

In the civil lawsuit, the alleged victims’ lawyer said: ‘When those women came forward to report Masterson’s crimes the Defendants (The Church of Scientology) conspired to and systematically stalked, harassed, invaded their and their family’s privacy, and intentionally caused them emotional distress to silence and intimidate them.’

Bobette Riales and Masterson dated from 2002-2004, in which time Masterson allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted her. She claims she was stalked by the church after she came forward with allegation (pictured together in 2003) 

Chrissie Bixler dated Masterson for several years and claims he would forcefully have sex with her and became violent when she refused. She says her dog mysteriously died after she reported him (pictured together in 2000)

Masterson – who played wise-cracking Steven Hyde on That ’70s Show from 1998 to 2006 – called the lawsuit against him and the Church of Scientology a ‘shameful money grab’.

In a statement to DailyMail.com, the Church of Scientology called the lawsuit ‘baseless’ and the claims ‘ludicrous and a sham’.

‘It’s a dishonest and hallucinatory publicity stunt. Leah Remini is taking advantage of these people as pawns in her money making scam.’

Meanwhile, Masterson’s attorney Mesereau insists that his client is innocent. ‘Obviously, Mr. Masterson and his wife are in complete shock considering that these nearly 20-year old allegations are suddenly resulting in charges being filed, but they and their family are comforted knowing that ultimately the truth will come out, ‘ he said in a statement.

‘The people who know Mr. Masterson know his character and know the allegations to be false.’    

 During his appearance in court last month, Scientology critic Leah Remini made an appearance after previously calling Masterson’s arrest ‘just the beginning’ of the Church of Scientology’s demise.

She is lending her support to accuser Chrissie Carnell Bixler, who previously dated Masterson.

At the time, Masterson’s lawyer filed a demurrer on the arraignment delaying it to October 19. His alleged victims were awarded a protective order and Masterson was ordered to turn in his firearms.

It took about three hours for the arraignment to get going, as Masterson arrived with an entourage of about 20 people, according to LA Times reporter James Queally. 

Masterson stands accused of raping a 23-year-old woman between January and December 2001, according to the complaint.

Danny Masterson is pictured in the sunglasses with his That ’70s show co-stars 

He is also accused of raping a 28-year-old woman in April 2003 and sometime between October and December of that year of raping a woman, 23, who officials say he had invited to his Hollywood Hills home.

Last year four women filed a lawsuit against Masterson in California claiming the actor drugged, raped and sexually assaulted them in the early 2000s.

The lawsuit also names the Church of Scientology and its leader David Miscavige as defendants, claiming the women were stalked in a ‘conspiracy to cover up that Daniel Masterson sexually assaulted four young women’.

Two of the women named in the suit were Masterson’s ex-girlfriends – Chrissie Bixler and Bobette Riales – while the other two are listed as Jane Does.

The lawsuit states: ‘When those women came forward to report Masterson’s crimes the Defendants conspired to and systematically stalked, harassed, invaded their and their family’s privacy, and intentionally caused them emotional distress and silence and intimidate them.’

Masterson called the lawsuit against him and the Church of Scientology a ‘shameful money grab’.

In statement to DailyMail.com, the Church of Scientology called the lawsuit ‘baseless’ and the claims ‘ludicrous and a sham’.

‘It’s a dishonest and hallucinatory publicity stunt. Leah Remini is taking advantage of these people as pawns in her moneymaking scam.’

A spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office said they have ‘declined to file sexual assault charges against Masterson in two other cases, one for insufficient evidence and the other based upon the statute of limitations for the crime alleged’.

Masterson has been married to actor and model Bijou Phillips since 2011.

Masterson’s attorney Tom Mesereau said in a statement: ‘Mr. Masterson is innocent, and we’re confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify.

‘Obviously, Mr. Masterson and his wife are in complete shock considering that these nearly 20-year old allegations are suddenly resulting in charges being filed, but they and their family are comforted knowing that ultimately the truth will come out.

‘The people who know Mr. Masterson know his character and know the allegations to be false.’

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