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Church of Scientology could loom large at 'That 70s Show' actor Danny Masterson's rape trial

Danny Masterson
Posted at 9:52 AM, Oct 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-18 12:52:58-04

LOS ANGELES — "That 70's Show" actor Danny Masterson will soon face three women in a California courtroom who have accused him of raping them about two decades ago.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced in June 2020 that Masterson was charged with three counts of rape by force or fear.

Masterson is accused of raping a 23-year-old woman between January and December 2001, raping a 28-year-old woman in April 2003, and raping a 23-year-old woman sometime between October and December 2003, at his home, according to the district attorney’s office.

In 2021, the Associated Press reported that Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo ordered Masterson to stand trial after she found the women's testimony during a preliminary hearing credible.

The Scientology church could loom large over the trial as the women, one of whom used to be the actor's long-term girlfriend, are all former members of the church, of which Masterson is still a member, the news outlet reported.

During a pre-trial hearing, Olmedo said, “this is not going to become a trial on Scientology,” but added that the church could be brought up to explain why the women delayed going to the authorities, the Associated Press reported.

Olmedo said the women could also talk about their beliefs about church policy, where crimes committed by other Scientologists are prohibited from being reported to law enforcement, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Opening statements are slated to begin Tuesday, the news outlet reported.

The 46-year-old has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and if convicted, he faces up to 45 years in prison, the Associated Press reported.