Throughout Danny Masterson’s rape trial last year, defense lawyers sought repeatedly to have almost all mention of the Church of Scientology and “the prosecution’s insinuations of drugging” drinks scratched out of the courtroom proceedings.
With a second criminal trial poised to start later this year against the That ‘70s Show star after getting a hung jury on November 30, a newly filed motion to dismiss all counts makes it very clear the defense now views neither Masterson’s controversial faith nor his beverage selection as points of contention. As the 16-page document pinpoints, it’s the Jane Does and the law of averages so to speak.
“The jury focused on the most relevant evidence -the testimony and prior statements of the Jane Does – and a strong majority reasonably concluded that this critical evidence established reasonable doubt,” states the filing in LA Superior Court today. “The contradictory nature of their trial testimony is not going to credibly change,” the paperwork from attorneys Phillip K. Cohen and Karen Goldstein adds.
“Indeed, to the extent it was to change at any subsequent trial, that ‘change’ would provide yet more fodder for inconsistencies, contradictions, and impeachment,” the defense duo argue, leaning into the court to “exercise its discretion to dismiss this prosecution in the interests of justice…there is no reason to believe a retrial will produce a different outcome.” With an unspoken swipe at the prosecution efforts of the LA County District Attorney’s officer, Cohen and Goldstein conclude: “After leading the lengthy deliberations, the jury foreperson formed the opinion that no jury is likely ever render unanimous guilty verdicts. He is correct.”
Seeing several alternates join the jury over their pre and post-Thanksgiving deliberations, the panel were clearly deeply divided on all three counts Masterson was charged with. On Count 1, they revealed it was 10-2 for not guilty; Count 2 saw eight going for not guilty, four for guilty; and Count 3 was seven for not guilty, five for guilty.
Facing up to 45 years in a Golden State prison if found guilty on all thee counts, Masterson was first arrested in 2020. The actor, who was quickly fired from the Ashton Kutcher co-starring Netflix comedy The Ranch at the end of 2017 as claims became known, always has denied he had nonconsensual sex between 2001 and 2003 with the alleged victims or anyone else. In court for every day of the trial and the jury deliberations, Masterson remains free on bail of $3.3 million
Quoting in full from the jury foreman’s post mistrial sit-down with The Underground Bunker’s Tony Ortega, Thursday’s motion from Masterson and his defense team comes mere days before a hearing in front of Judge Charlaine Olmedo on the next steps in the case. A second trial start date of March 27 was penciled in when the first trial deadlocked. Also in LASC, a civil case for harassment and more against Masterson and Scientology by a number of the Jane Does from the criminal case and others looks to potentially kick-off again next month after being stayed in 2022 for the rape trial.
Seventeen years after That ’70s Show ended on Fox, a That ’90s Show sequel is set to launch on Netflix on January 19. As far as can be deduced, Masterson is the only significant cast member of the original series who will not be making an appearance in the new sitcom. Even with today’s filing, taking Judge Olmedo’s response to previous defense motions to dismiss the charges or case, there is a good chance the actor will be engaged in some courtroom drama of his own again.
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