Jury deliberations begin in Daniel Masterson rape trial

LOS ANGELES — The fate of That ’70s Show star Danny Masterson is in the hands of a jury.

The panel, composed of seven women and five men, began its first full day of deliberations Wednesday, a day after Masterson’s defense team and prosecutors delivered their closing arguments in the closely watched trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Masterson, who is charged with three counts of forced rape, chose not to testify and mostly sat silent for four weeks of testimony, which included often explicit accounts of the three women who say he murdered them at his Hollywood home from 2001 to 2003. Hills raped.

Over the objections of Masterson’s attorneys, Supreme Court Justice Charlaine F. Olmedo allowed the jury to hear the testimony of a fourth accuser, an actress identified as Jane Doe #4, who said the actor had killed her more than two decades ago. raped twice after they met. on a movie set.

Masterson is not accused of raping that woman. Unlike his other accusers, Jane Doe #4 was never a member of the Church of Scientology, to which Masterson still belongs.

But Jane Doe #4’s testimony mirrored in many ways the testimony of the three women Masterson is accused of rape. And Olmedo allowed her to testify after Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller alleged that Masterson’s attorney Philip Cohen opened the door to her testimony by suggesting that Masterson’s three other accusers had conspired against him.

The 46-year-old actor, who has pleaded not guilty and remains free on $3.3 million bail, has denied all allegations against him. If convicted on all counts, he could face up to 45 years in prison.

Mueller on Tuesday used a screen set up in the courtroom and a PowerPoint presentation as a visual aid to bolster his case for Masterson’s guilt.

As Masterson and his family and famous friends like Billy Baldwin and sister-in-law Chyna Phillips watched in the crowded room, Mueller went through the testimony of all the prosecutors and explained the law and why that meant jurors had to hold the actor accountable. .

“Show him that no actually means no,” Mueller said. “That becomes your strength.”

Mueller also addressed Cohen’s suggestion that Masterson’s prosecutors were colluding against him.

Is he suggesting that these victims are lying? Mueller said about Cohen. “Is he suggesting that they have come together and decided that they will now file a case against Masterson? Because if that’s the direction he’s going, there’s no evidence for it.”

Cohen also used visual aids in his argument that Masterson was innocent and also pointed out what he believed were contradictions in the testimonies of the women, all of whom were identified as Jane Does.

Olmedo made it clear at the beginning of the trial that Scientology was not a defendant. But the judge allowed testimony from two of Masterson’s accusers who said they were dismissed when they told Scientology officials he raped them.

Those same women also testified that they were victims of stalking and other retaliatory acts by Church members after they reported the allegations to police.

Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw has denied those allegations, insisting that Church doctrine requires members to “obey all the laws of the land.”

In his closing statement, Cohen told the jury that, by their count, Scientology was mentioned some 700 times during the trial.

“It was about Scientology,” Cohen said.

Founded in 1952 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology claims in its official beliefs that man is an immortal spiritual being with unlimited potential, and offers one-on-one “auditing” and classes for a fee. designed to help members achieve a “clear” spiritual state. It strongly opposes the science of psychiatry as ‘disastrous’.

Dua Anjum and Diana Dasrath reported from Los Angeles and Corky Siemaszko from New York City.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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