The American actor Danny Masterson he was sentenced to prison 30 years for raping two women. Masterson starred in the television series “That ’70s Show,” which aired at the time of his crimes in the early 2000s.
Prosecutors alleged that Masterson, 47, relied on his status as a “distinguished scientologist» to avoid attribution of responsibilities. Judge Charlaine Olmedo allowed the victims of his crimes to read statements in court before his sentencing.
Former Scientologist and actress Leah Remini attended Thursday’s hearing and comforted the women before and after they gave their statements. “I wish I had reported him to the police sooner“, said one of the women, according to what the bbc.com. Another woman told Masterson: “I forgive you. Your sickness is no longer mine to bear».
Masterson remained silent throughout the hearing. As the judge read out his sentence – the maximum allowed – his wife, Bijou Phillips, was seen in court bursts with tears.
The actor was convicted after three women testified that he had them sexually abuse at his Hollywood home from 2001 to 2003, during the height of his TV fame. In one testimony, jurors heard that their he had given drugs before attacking them.
He was found guilty of rape against two of the three women who accused him. The charges brought by the third accuser were dismissed mistrial and prosecutors said they do not intend to retry the case.
Alison Anderson, a lawyer representing two of the victims, said in a statement sent to the BBC that the women had “shown enormous strength and bravery by coming forward to the police and participating directly in two grueling criminal trials”. “Despite persistent harassment, obstruction and intimidation, these brave women helped bring a ruthless sexual predator to justice today“, he said.
Involvement of the Church of Scientology
Throughout the trial, prosecutors argued that the Church of Scientology helped cover up the attacks – a claim the organization has vehemently denied.
At the time of the attacks, Masterson and the three women who accused him were Scientologists. Several of the women said it took them years to testify because her Church officials Scientology they were discouraged from reporting the rape to the police.
According to prosecutors, Scientology officials told one survivor she would lose membership in the community unless she signed a nondisclosure agreement and accepted a $400,000 payment. During the trial, Judge Olmedo allowed both sides to discuss Scientology’s practices, prompting the anger of the organization.
In her statement following the verdict in May, the Church of Scientology stated that “there is not a shred of evidence to support the outrageous allegations that the Church harassed the accusers.”
In court Thursday, a woman described being shunned by her mother, who is still a practicing Scientologist. “She texted me and told me to never contact her again,” she said. “She had warned me in advance that she wanted to see Danny Masterson imprisoned for what he had done to me, but not at the expense of her religion».
Another woman said she had been victimized by the Church of Scientology since speaking out. “Since the week I reported to the police I have been terrorized, harassed and my privacy violated daily by the Scientology sect for almost seven years“, he said, adding: “But I don’t regret it.”
He has been accused since 2017
Masterson was first charged with rape 2017 during the height of the movement #MeToo. The same he denied the charges and stated that each of the meetings was consensual.
The charges came after a three-year investigation by the police department Los Angeles. Prosecutors did not file charges in two other cases because of insufficient evidence and the statute of limitations.
Thursday’s sentencing was also attended by Jessica Barth, who founded Voices in Action in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Ms. Barth was one of the women who publicly accused the disgraced Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein, for abuse. Her non-profit organization works to encourage others to come forward and report the abuse.
Before the hearing, Masterson’s defense team’s motion for a new trial turned down by the judge, according to a Los Angeles court official.
Source: News Beast
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