Actor Danny Masterson found guilty on two counts of rape
Danny Masterson received letters of support from Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher ahead of his sentencing, it has been revealed.
Masterson, 47, was given a sentence of 30 years to life in a Los Angeles court on Thursday for the rapes of two women two decades ago.
It has since emerged that his That 70’s Show co-stars Kunis and Kutcher were among 50 people who wrote letters of support before the sentencing.
In their letters, published by Los Angeles-based court reporter Meghann Cuniff, the couple vouched for Masterson’s “exceptional character” and pleaded for Judge Charlaine Olmedo’s leniency.
A jury found Masterson guilty of two counts in May after seven days of deliberations. Both attacks took place in Masterson’s Hollywood Hills home in 2003, when he was at the height of his fame on the Fox network sitcom.
The jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on a third count, an allegation that Masterson also raped a longtime girlfriend.
Prosecutors alleged that Masterson used his prominence in the Church of Scientology — where all three women were also members at the time — to avoid consequences for decades after the attacks.
Danny Masterson’s daughter, 9, and wife are ‘lost’ without him
Danny Masterson’s nine-year-old daughter and wife Bijou Phillips, are said to be “lost” without the actor.
Ahead of his sentencing trial on Thursday (7 September), Masterson’s brother urged the judge, in a character letter, “for your utmost compassion with regards to Danny so that his family may get to see him again, his young daughter and wife most importantly. They are lost without him, as we all are”.
“I understand the lengthy sentence he is facing per the statute and letter of the law,” Jordan Masterson wrote. “My brother is looking at the rest of his life in prison. I pray that isn’t the outcome.”
“Danny is a loving father to his daughter and a loving husband to his wife,” Jordan added. “He cares deeply for his family and always puts their needs first and foremost above his. When his wife needed a kidney transplant and was on dialysis for more than a year, my brother was by her side every step of the way. He moved mountains to get her the treatment she needed. Taking care of a young child and a gravely sick wife while also trying to maintain a career to pay for all of the above is extremely hard as you can imagine. But he did it. Never once did he complain or lament his situation.”
Inga Parkel8 September 2023 22:30
Judge ‘verbally dismantled’ Masterson’s defence
“Mr Masterson, you are not the victim here. Your actions 20 years ago took away another person’s choice and voice. Your actions 20 years ago today were criminal, and that’s why you are here,” Judge Olmedo told the actor at his sentence hearing on Thursday (7 September).
Olmedo told Masterson she knows he’s wondering “how you can be convicted of each charge of sexual incident occurring 20 years ago” involving “a woman who you believe is disgruntled and has a vendetta against you.”
But, Olmedo said, “you were not convicted on the testimony of one person.”
“You were not convicted based on rumors, innuendo, gossip and speculation,” Olmedo said. “You were convicted based on evidence that 12 people in the community found to be credible. … You were convicted because each of the victims reported the rapes to someone shortly after the rapes occurred.”
Judge Olmedo also noted that Masterson had paid one of his victims nearly $1m to sign a non-disclosure agreement, describing it as “an awful lot to pay” for an incident he claimed never happened.
Inga Parkel8 September 2023 22:00
Who is Masterson’s wife Bijou Phillips?
Reports indicate Masterson’s wife, Bijou Phillips, was visibly upset in court when her husband of 12 years was convicted on 31 May following seven days of jury deliberation and a mistrial in 2022. The 43-year-old model clung to Masterson’s side for the duration of his trial, showing no signs she plans to leave or divorce him as of now.
Her husband’s trial joins a long list of scandals Bijou has encountered throughout her life. For those who aren’t familiar, here’s a little background on the sitcom star’s wife.
Bijou, daughter of The Mamas & The Papas lead musician John Phillips, and his third wife Geneviève Waïte, met Masterson in 2004 and tied the knot with ‘That 70s Show’ lead in 2011
Inga Parkel8 September 2023 21:30
Did Conan O’Brien know?
The video is taken from 2004 when the 47-year-old actor, who starred in That ’70s Show, appeared on the NBC series Late Night with Conan O’Brien. The rapes he has been convicted of happened one year earlier.
’I’ve heard about you,’ Conan O’Brien tells now-convicted rapist after lewd comment
Inga Parkel8 September 2023 21:00
Who were Danny Masterson’s accusers?
Danny Masterson was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison on two charges of forcible rape. Though he was initially accused by three women, the jury could not come to a unanimous verdict on the third account.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press, which does not typically name people who say they were victims of sexual abuse.
One of the women Masterson is convicted of raping was born into a Scientology family and was part of Masterson’s circle of friends. Nearly all of those closest to her were members, including the late Lisa Marie Presley, who also left the church long before her death in January.
The woman said that when she stopped by Masterson’s house to pick up a set of keys in 2003, he gave her a drink that left her sick and badly disoriented, and raped her in his bedroom upstairs. She first filed a police report, which did not lead to an arrest, in 2004. She returned to authorities in 2016.
Jurors found her account credible and convicted Masterson based on her allegations.
A model and actor who was Masterson’s girlfriend from 1996 to 2002 took the stand to open the trial. She previously testified that Masterson grew increasingly physically and sexually abusive in their years together. She said that it eventually led to him raping her twice late in 2001, though he is only charged with one instance, a morning when she woke to find Masterson raping her. She would go to the police 15 years later.
Jurors could not agree on a verdict on her allegations, deadlocking 8-4 in favour of conviction.
The third woman at the centre of the trial had only recently met Masterson through mutual friends in the church, which she had joined as a teenager. She testified that in 2003 Masterson invited her to his house, where they were alone. She said she was clear that she wanted no sex, but he convinced her to get into his jacuzzi and then took her to his bed, where he raped her. She went to the police in 2017.
Jurors convicted Masterson based on her testimony.
Inga Parkel8 September 2023 20:16
Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher’s letters of support for Masterson revealed
Tom Murray8 September 2023 19:34
‘That 70s Show’ alumni Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher wrote letters of support for Masterson
Legal affairs reporter Meghann Cuniff has published the letters of support written by Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis for their That 70s Show costar.
In their letters, the actors – who are married – vouched for Masterson’s “exceptional character” and asked for the judge’s leniency.
Kutcher called his co-star a “role model” and “a person that is consistently there for you when you need him”.
“I do not believe he is an ongoing harm to society,” he wrote in his letter’s conclusion.
Meanwhile, Kunis called Masterson “an amazing friend, confidant, and, above all, an outstanding older brother figure to me”.
“Danny Masterson’s warmth, humor, and positive outlook on life have been a driving force in shaping my character and the way I approach life’s challenges,” she wrote.
Actress Debra Jo Rupp and actor Kurtwood Smith, who played Kitty and Red Forman on That ‘70s Show, also wrote letters, according to Cuniff.
The Independent has contacted Kunis’ and Kutcher’s representatives for comment.
Tom Murray8 September 2023 19:01
How did the Church of Scientology play a part in Danny Masterson trial?
Throughout both the first trial and retrial, the Church of Scientology – of which Danny Masterson is a member, and the three victims were former members – played a large part. But how?
Prosecutors alleged that Masterson used his prominence in the church to avoid consequences for decades after the attacks.
The women had blamed the church for dissuading them from reporting Masterson to police. They testified that when they reported him to Scientology officials, they were told they were not raped and were sent through ethics programs and warned against going to law enforcement to report a member of such high standing.
“They were raped, they were punished for it, and they were retaliated against,” Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller told jurors at the trial. “Scientology told them there’s no justice for them.”
After the verdict, the church said that the “testimony and descriptions of Scientology beliefs” during the trial were “uniformly false”.
“The Church has no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of anyone – Scientologists or not – to law enforcement,” the statement said.
Sitcom actor has since been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for the rapes of two women
Inga Parkel8 September 2023 18:45
How did ‘That ’70s Show’ reboot address Steve Hyde’s absence?
The sitcom star was charged with the rapes of three women months before the release of the reboot. In December, however, his first trial ended in a mistrial after the jury of seven women and five men were deadlocked and unable to reach a verdict on the third charge, brought against him by a former longtime girlfriend.
At the time of the assaults, Masterson was starring in That ’70s Show as Steven Hyde, a rebellious high school student and the best friend of series lead Eric (Grace).
The sequel (following on from That ’80s Show), focuses on the children of Eric and his classmates, with Grace and his former co-stars Laura Prepon, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis all making guest appearances. Although, as expected, Masterson does not return to the show.
Sitcom actor has now been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for the rapes of two women
Inga Parkel8 September 2023 18:15
Danny Masterson unmoved by sentencing victim statements
Danny Masterson appeared unmoved by the powerful impact statements given by his two rape victims during his sentencing on Thursday (7 September).
Graeme Massie has the full story:
Actor jailed for 30 years by Los Angeles judge for the rape of two women at his home in 2003
Inga Parkel8 September 2023 17:45