A court has ruled that Danny Masterson must face charges of rape.
A court in the United States has ordered Danny Masterson, the actor from That 70s Show, to stand trial for rape after three women alleged he assaulted them nearly 20 years ago.
Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo of the Los Angeles County Superior Court ordered Masterson to stand trial on three counts of rape by force or terror, allegations that may land him in prison for up to 45 years.
She said she believed the women’s testimony was credible for the preliminary hearing, when the standard for adequate evidence is lower than it will be at the next trial.
Despite hundreds of inquiries by police and the Los Angeles district attorney, the most of which have resulted in no charges, that trial will be the first prosecution of a Hollywood figure in the #MeToo era.
Masterson, 45, has pled not guilty to the charges.
His lawyers promised to establish his innocence, and during the hearing, they frequently questioned the ladies about inconsistencies in their tales, which they claimed the accusers had orchestrated in the years following the purported rapes.
The lawyers said that the episodes, which occurred between 2001 and 2003, were too recent for accurate recollection.
“Memories fade and memories change,” said Sharon Appelbaum, a lawyer for Masterson.
As he sat in court with a small group of family and friends behind him, the actor showed no outward emotion to the judge’s ruling.
Outside of court, Masterson’s lead attorney, Thomas Mesereau, who also represented Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby in sexual assault lawsuits, declined to comment.
During the hearing, Mesereau claimed that anti-religious bias had corrupted the police, prosecutors, and witnesses against the Church of Scientology.
All three ladies are former Scientologists, including Masterson, who is a renowned Scientologist.
The church of Scientology and its beliefs were brought up so many times during the hearing that the judge felt obligated to state that the church was not a defendant.
The organisation is expected to loom much larger during trial, where most of the witnesses will be either members or former members.
The court stated in her judgement that a church document prohibiting members from reporting other members to the police and permitting the. (This is a brief piece.)