Jury Hearing Opening Statements in Actor Danny Masterson's Rape Retrial

Ashton Kutcher And Danny Masterson Host Fans In Nashville At Tequila Cowboy For A Launch Event For Netflix "The Ranch: Part 3"

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A prosecutor told jurors in the retrial of "That '70s Show" actor Danny Masterson Monday that they will hear about the alleged drugging and forcible rapes of three women between 2001 and 2003.

"What this case involves is the sexual assaults of three women ... the forcible rape of three women," Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller told the seven-woman, five-man panel that was sworn in last week to hear the case against Masterson. "The evidence will show that they were drugged."

The prosecutor said jurors will also hear from a fourth woman who alleges she was raped by Masterson after he handed her a mixed drink and she began feeling "dizzy" and "light-headed" during a wrap party in Toronto for the movie "Dracula 2000." He is not charged with a crime involving that woman, Mueller noted.

Masterson, now 47, was charged in 2020 with three counts of rape by force or fear involving the three women on separate alleged occasions.

He has been free on bail since his June 2020 arrest by the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division.

During last year's trial, jurors leaned in favor of acquittal on all three counts against Masterson -- voting 10-2 on one count, 8-4 on another and 7-5 on the third -- but they were unable to reach a unanimous decision, leading to the mistrial last Nov. 30.

Prosecutors confirmed in January that they wanted to retry the actor, and Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo rejected a defense effort to have the charges dismissed.

The defense was expected to give its opening statement in the retrial Monday afternoon.

During Masterson's first trial, defense attorney Philip Kent Cohen argued that the alleged victims lied about their relations with the actor.

In arguing for an acquittal last year, Masterson's attorney told jurors that the prosecution wanted to "win this case so badly" that they ignored "blatantly fabricated" and inconsistent testimony from witnesses during the nearly monthlong trial.

In December 2017, Netflix announced that Masterson had been fired from the Emmy-winning scripted comedy "The Ranch" amid sexual assault allegations.

The actor said then he was "very disappointed," and added that "it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused." He also "denied the outrageous allegations" and said he looked forward to "clearing my name once and for all."

A civil suit filed in August 2019 against Masterson -- a longtime adherent of the Church of Scientology -- and the church by the three women involved in the criminal case and one woman who was not a member of the church alleges they were stalked and harassed after reporting sexual assault allegations against the actor to Los Angeles police.

Regarding the lawsuit, the Church of Scientology issued a statement saying, "The Church denies the allegations of harassment as obvious, cynical and self-serving fictions, and the Church knows it will be vindicated."

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