A jury in Los Angeles on Wednesday convicted Danny Masterson, the actor best known for his role on the sitcom “That ’70s Show,” of having raped two women, but deadlocked on a charge that he had raped a third, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.
The mixed verdict came after a jury deadlocked on all three charges in November, resulting in a mistrial. The retrial lasted more than a month and jurors deliberated for more than a week.
Each charge of forcible rape carries a penalty of 15 years to life in prison, according to court documents.
Prosecutors said that Masterson, 47, who played Steven Hyde on “That ’70s Show” from 1998 to 2006, had raped three women at his home in the Hollywood Hills between 2001 and 2003. He had pleaded not guilty.
The case was closely watched in part because of accusations by two of the women that the Church of Scientology, to which they and Masterson belonged, had discouraged them from reporting the rapes to law enforcement, according to court documents. The church has strongly denied that it pressures victims.
Although both trials centered on the same allegations, Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo of Los Angeles Superior Court allowed prosecutors to tell jurors directly in the second trial that Masterson had drugged his three accusers, The Associated Press reported.
Prosecutors only suggested the possibility of drugging in the first trial, as they presented testimony that the women felt disoriented and confused after Masterson gave them alcoholic drinks.
Masterson’s lawyer, Philip Cohen, had argued that the women’s stories were inconsistent and that there was no physical evidence of drugging and “no evidence of force or violence,” The A.P. reported.
“I am experiencing a complex array of emotions — relief, exhaustion, strength, sadness — knowing that my abuser, Danny Masterson, will face accountability for his criminal behavior,” one of Masterson’s accusers, who was identified in court documents only as N. Trout, said in a statement released by a public relations firm for lawyers who are representing her in a lawsuit against Masterson and the Church of Scientology.
Another accuser, who was identified in court documents only as Christina B., said in the same statement that she was “devastated” that the jury had deadlocked on the charge that he had raped her.
“Despite my disappointment in this outcome, I remain determined to secure justice, including in civil court, where I, along with my co-plaintiffs, will shine a light on how Scientology and other conspirators enabled and sought to cover up Masterson’s monstrous behavior,” she said in a statement.
The church said in a statement in April that it “has no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of anyone, Scientologists or not, to law enforcement.”
“Quite the opposite,” the statement said. “Church policy explicitly demands Scientologists abide by all laws of the land.”