A jury in Los Angeles on Wednesday convicted Danny Masterson, the actor best known for his role on the sitcom “That ’70s Show,” on two counts of rape, but deadlocked on a third count of rape, The Associated Press reported.
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 A.P. 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.
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