Danny Masterson, a renowned star from the beloved series “That ’70s Show”, was sentenced on Thursday to spend between 30 years to life behind bars for the rape of two women. The declaration of the punishment ushered in a sense of relief for the victims, who detailed the prolonged torment their assailant had subjected them to in court.
Echoes of painful recollections reverberated in the courtroom as one victim, raped by the actor in 2003, spoke. “When you raped me, you stole from me,” she said, pinning rape as a theft of spirit. Lambasting Masterson, she declared him a pathetic, disturbed, and violent individual from whom the world would be safer, once incarcerated.
The grave sentence was decreed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo to Masterson, aged 47, following victim impact statements as well as defense pleas for a judicious verdict. The convict, who has been in custody since May, refrained from showing any visible reaction to his victims’ speeches, clad in a suit in the court. Despite his conviction, Masterson has continually denied the charges and his counsel now plans to appeal the sentence.
The second woman that the actor was proven to have assaulted voiced her anguish, observing a total lack of remorse in Masterson. Her regret of not having reported the crime earlier to the law enforcement was heavy, she shared passionately, asserting that Masterson deserved to be behind bars to ensure the safety of all women he may encounter.
The initial jury had fallen into a deadlock over three counts of rape in December, leading to a mistrial. However, prosecutors retried the accused culminating in Masterson’s conviction on two of the three charges this year.
For the sentencing, Masterson passed on his right to speak and remained devoid of any visceral reaction post the judge’s announcement. This impassivity was echoed amongst his family members in the court. The actor’s wife, Bijou Phillips, however, was observed teary-eyed earlier during the hearing.
The decision follows Masterson’s second trial where he was convicted for two out of the three rape charges on May 31. The incidents dated back to 2003, took place in Masterson’s residence in the Hollywood area while he basked in the glory of his stardom in the Fox network sitcom “That ’70s Show”. The jury was unable to deliver a consensus on the third charge that alleged the actor of raping a long-term girlfriend.
Judge Olmedo rejected the request for a new trial that the defense presented earlier on the day, thus sentencing Masterson to the maximum term permissible by law. The stipulations permit parole for the actor after a minimum of 25 1/2 years in confinement with the maximum sentence being a life term.
Before pronouncing the sentence, Olmedo addressed Masterson, acknowledging his steadfastness in his proclamations of non-guilt and likely sense of victimization. However, the judge reminded the actor of his heinous crimes that silenced another person, and how he’d have to reconcile with his past actions and their repercussions.
As Masterson faces the future, an ephemeral statement from his lawyer, Shawn Holley, noted the crushing impact the verdict was to have on his life and that of his 9-year-old daughter. Post the hearing, Holley maintained Masterson’s innocence and announced that an appeals team is confident of overturning the convictions.
The three women, all of whom were members of the Church of Scientology along with Masterson at the time of the attacks, accused him of leveraging his prominence within the church to evade repercussions. According to them, the church’s actions made them hesitate in approaching the police regarding Masterson’s crimes.
The Church of Scientology refuted the allegations of ever discouraging or prohibiting members from reporting any criminal conduct to the police, or harassing any of the women.
The decades-long ache the victims bore from the trauma of their violation significantly affected their relationships and filled their lives with trepidation. However, they acknowledged that Masterson’s sentencing ushered in some respite.
The sentencing serves as an important victory for the #MeToo movement, occurring within the same timeframe as the widely-publicized conviction of Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein. Despite the commencement of the investigation into Masterson’s crimes pre-dating the surge of women revealing stories of abuse in Hollywood, the case represents a significant stride for victims securing justice.