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That '70s Show star Danny Masterson used Scientology to get away with sexual abuse, court hears

That '70s Show star Danny Masterson used Scientology to get away with sexual abuse, court hears

Danny Masterson faces more than 40 years in prison if found guilty

Content warning: contains reference to sexual assault

Prosectors in the rape trial against former That '70s Show star Danny Masterson have accused him of using his prominence in the Church of Scientology to avoid the consequences of sexually abusing women.

Masterson, 47, is on trial for a second time after the first ended in a mistrial in December, when jurors were unable to reach a verdict.

The actor has been accused of raping three women at his home between 2001 and 2003, while the popular sitcom That '70s Show was still being made.

Danny Masterson played Hyde in the sitcom.
20th Century Fox

Masterson has pleaded not guilty, and the Los Angeles jury is expected to start their deliberations today (17 May), after closing arguments from each side.

In final remarks to the jury, prosecutors accused Masterson of putting drugs in women's drinks to gain control over them and rape them.

Deputy District Attorney Ariel Anson said: “He does this to take away his victims’ ability to consent. You don’t want to have sex? You don’t have a choice. The defendant makes that choice for these victims. And he does it over and over and over again.”

Anson accused Masterson of assaulting fellow Scientologists, who were allegedly later threatened with excommunication if they reported Masterson to police.

Danny Masterson has denied the allegations.
Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo

"The church taught his victims, 'Rape isn't rape, you caused this, and above all, you are never allowed to go to law enforcement,'" she said.

"In Scientology, the defendant is a celebrity and he is untouchable."

The Church of Scientology has denied having a policy which discourages members from going to law enforcement.

Anson said one of the alleged victims is a former girlfriend of Masterson, while the other two are women he came to know through the church.

“Like all predators, the defendant carefully sought out his prey,” Anson told the jury.

Masterson's attorney, however, questioned why the court had 'heard so much about Scientology', adding: "Could it be there’s problems with the government’s case?”

Danny Masterson is a longtime member of Scientology.
20th Century Fox

Defense Attorney, Phillip Cohen, claimed the stories of the alleged victims had been 'tweaked', saying: "It doesn’t take a whole lot …a tweak here, massaging a word there."

“If you are looking for motives why people are not being truthful… there are motives all over the place,” Cohen said.

Cohen claimed Anson downplayed inconsistencies in the testimonies, saying: “She did a very nice job of ignoring many of them. What she views as little inconsistencies are at the heart of trying to determine, ‘Is somebody, reliable, credible, believable enough for a criminal conviction?'"

If found guilty, Masterson could face more than 40 years in prison.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact RAINN via its helpline on 800 656 HOPE (4673) or its online chat, available 24/7 seven days a week.

Featured Image Credit: Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo / Fox

Topics: Celebrity, Crime, Film and TV, US News, Sexual Abuse