LOS ANGELES (AP) — Danny Masterson drugged women’s drinks so he could rape them, then relied on his notoriety in the Church of Scientology to avoid consequences for years, a prosecutor told jurors on Tuesday during closing arguments in the actor’s trial .
“The defendant drugs his victims to gain control. He does this to deprive his victims of the capacity to consent,” Assistant District Attorney Ariel Anson told the jury of seven men and five women. “You don’t want to have sex? You do not have the choice. The accused makes this choice for these victims. And he does it again and again and again.
The 47-year-old former ‘That ’70s Show’ star is on trial for rape for the second time after the first ended in a mistrial in December, with a jury hopelessly deadlocked on all counts.
Masterson pleaded not guilty of raping three women in his home between 2001 and 2003. His lawyer, Philip Cohen, who briefly began his own conclusion and will continue in the afternoon, told jurors that inconsistencies in the stories of women that he downplayed by Anson are material to the jury. consider.
“She did a really good job ignoring a lot of them,” Cohen said. “What she sees as small inconsistencies is at the heart of trying to figure out, ‘Is anyone reliable, believable, believable enough for a criminal conviction?'”
Anson took aim at the Church of Scientology, of which Masterson is a member and all three women are former members, throughout his argument, pointing out that church authorities prevented women from coming to terms with what had happened to them and to report it to the police for years.
“The church has taught its victims, ‘Rape is not rape, you caused it, and above all, you are never allowed to go to law enforcement,'” she said. “In Scientology, the accused is a celebrity and he is untouchable.”
The church denied having a policy discouraging members from turning themselves in to law enforcement.
Actress Leah Remini, a former member of the church who became one of his main public opponents, sat in the courtroom with her arm around one of the accusers, who testified in both lawsuit that Masterson had raped her in 2003.
Anson walked the jurors through the testimony of the three women. One is a former girlfriend who said Masterson raped her five years after their relationship began in 2001. The other two are women he knew in social circles surrounding the church.
All testified that they became abnormally groggy and had lapses in consciousness and memory after consuming drinks Masterson gave them. Judge Charlaine Olmedo allowed the prosecution at the second trial to say directly that he had drugged the women, after only allowing descriptions of their conditions at the first.
There is no physical evidence of drugs. The investigation that led to Masterson’s arrest didn’t begin until about 15 years after the women said they had been raped. Anson told jurors that the women’s accounts and the testimony of a police toxicology expert who described the symptoms should suffice.
“We ask you to hold the defendant accountable,” she said, “to find him guilty.”
Less than half the jurors voted to convict Masterson on any count after the first trial.
Lawyers for both sides closed their cases on Friday, three weeks after the start of the second trial. Masterson’s defense attorneys declined to call witnesses.
His lawyer stressed on Tuesday that jurors must find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, saying that even if they think it is likely that he is guilty, they must acquit him.
“If you say, ‘I think he’s probably guilty’, do you know what that leads to?” Cohen said, then made a buzzer sound. “Not guilty.”
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