That '70s Show's Danny Masterson sentenced to 30 years in prison for raping two women 

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulSep 08, 2023 | 12:38

That '70s Show's Danny Masterson sentenced to 30 years in prison for raping two women 

Once a familiar face as Hyde from the popular American sitcom "That '70s Show," Danny Masterson has been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for raping two women. The trial revealed how the Church of Scientology had allegedly sought to protect Masterson by intimidating the survivors into silence.

The conviction

Masterson, who was a prominent Scientologist himself, saw his life take a dramatic turn in May when he was convicted in a second trial for the rape of two women. However, a charge involving a third woman resulted in a hung jury. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo, presiding over the case, didn't show any leniency and imposed the maximum sentence allowed by law. Masterson, who has been behind bars since his conviction, will become eligible for parole after serving 25 and a half years of his sentence.


The Church of Scientology

The case has captured public attention not only due to Masterson's celebrity status but also because he met his victims through the Church of Scientology. The accusers claimed that the organization actively discouraged them from involving law enforcement, creating a chilling environment of silence and intimidation. 

  • In response, the Church of Scientology vehemently denied these allegations and argued that Masterson's religion should not have been a factor in the case, labeling it "an unprecedented violation of the First Amendment."

The prosecution's case against Masterson drew heavily on Scientology and what they deemed as "fabrications about the Church" to introduce prejudice and inflame bigotry. This fueled a contentious legal battle that lasted for years, finally culminating in Masterson's conviction.

The women who came forward to testify against Masterson alleged that he had drugged and raped them in separate incidents between 2001 and 2003 at his residence in the Hollywood Hills. 

The trial

During the sentencing hearing, with Masterson's wife, actor Bijou Phillips, and his brother, Malcolm in the Middle actor, Christopher Masterson, seated nearby, the survivors delivered their victim impact statements. They expressed the profound impact the rapes had on their lives, both personally and professionally.


One survivor, identified as Jane Doe 2 in the case, said “Rape is a theft of the spirit.”

  • She revealed that she had been a member of the Church of Scientology when she met Masterson and described the organization as an "enabler and protector" for him.
  • She further stated that she had been "terrorized and harassed" by the Church when she tried to speak out about her rape, leading to severe emotional and professional consequences, including the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the withering of her promising acting career.

The other survivor, identified as Jane Doe 1, disclosed that her mother was a Scientologist who disowned her after she criticized the group during the trial.

  • She stated, “I didn’t choose to be born in Scientology just like I didn’t choose to be raped,” accusing the organization of attempting to silence and intimidate her during the rape case. 

Leah Remini, a former Scientologist and a vocal critic of the organization, stood by Jane Doe 1 with her arms around her as she delivered her statement.


Masterson maintains his innocence

Despite his conviction, Masterson's legal team remains undeterred and plans to appeal the case based on what they describe as substantial errors during the trial. However, legal experts suggest that his celebrity status did not lead to preferential treatment in the sentencing process.

Although Masterson may not serve the entire 30-year sentence, given the nature of his offense, it is likely that he will spend around 25 and a half years in prison. This case serves as a stark reminder that accountability knows no expiration date, even in high-profile situations. 

The case also highlights the complex interplay between celebrity status, the criminal justice system, and public perception. While celebrities often receive special treatment, especially in court, when they are accused and convicted of serious crimes, their status can work against them. 

Judges may use such cases to send a strong message about the consequences of harming others. In Masterson's case, it appears that his celebrity did not afford him any leniency, and the sentence handed down reflects the severity of his crimes.

Last updated: September 08, 2023 | 12:38
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