American actor Danny Masterson has been sentenced to 30 years to life imprisonment for sexually assaulting two women.
Masterson starred in “That ’70s Show,” a television program that was broadcast at the time he committed these offenses in the early 2000s.
The prosecution claimed Masterson, 47, uses his influential position as a notable Scientologist to avoid countability.
Judge Charlaine Olmedo permitted the survivors of his offenses to present victim impact statements in the courtroom prior to the determination of his punishment.
Well-known ex-Scientologist and artist Leah Remini was present at Thursday’s sentencing session, offering support to the females before and following their statement deliveries.
“I wished I had reported him earlier to the police,” remarked one of the ladies, as per American news outlets.
A different lady conveyed to Masterson: “I forgive you. Your sickness is no longer mine to bear,” as reported by Reuters.
Masterson did not utter any words during the entire proceeding. While the judge announced his sentence – the sternest punishment permissible – his spouse, Bijou Phillips, was spotted in the courtroom collapsing into tears.
In May, Masterson was declared guilty in a subsequent trial after the initial jury failed to finalize a decision in 2022.
Following his conviction, the authorities considered Masterson a potential escape risk and he was taken into prison custody.
The actor faced conviction post the testimonies of three women who affirmed he assaulted them at his residence in Hollywood between 2001 and 2003 amidst the peak of his career in television.
The jury was presented with evidence that he had administered drugs to them prior to the assaults.
He was pronounced guilty of rape involving two out of the three complainants. The allegations made by the third complainant resulted in a mistrial and the prosecution indicated no intentions to reopen the case.
Alison Anderson, a legal representative for two of the affected women stated that the ladies “have displayed tremendous strength and bravery, by coming forward to law enforcement and participating directly in two gruelling criminal trials”.
“Despite persistent harassment, obstruction and intimidation, these courageous women helped hold a ruthless sexual predator accountable today,” she continued.
In Thursday’s courtroom session, a lady recounted being shunned by her mother, who remains an active Scientologist.
“She texted me and told me to never contact her again,” the woman revealed, as documented by the LA Times.
“She had warned me ahead of time she wanted to see Danny Masterson imprisoned for his actions towards me, but not at the sacrifice of her faith.”
An additional woman disclosed her continuous victimization by the religious organization since her initial revelation.
“Since the week I came forward to police I have been terrorised, harassed and had my privacy invaded daily by the cult of Scientology for almost 7 years now,” she declared, adding: “But I don’t regret it.”
Masterson faced his initial rape accusations in 2017 amidst the prominence of the #MeToo wave. He refuted the allegations, asserting that all the incidents were mutual agreements.
The indictment followed a three-year probe conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department. In two other instances, the prosecutors refrained from pressing charges due to inadequate proof and the lapse of the statute of limitations.
During the legal proceedings, the prosecution maintained that the Church of Scientology facilitated in concealing the attacks – a claim vehemently refuted by the institution.
When the attacks occurred, Masterson and all three of the individuals who accused him were members of the Scientology community.
A number of the women stated that they delayed coming forward for several years, as officials from the Church of Scientology dissuaded them from reporting the assaults to the police.
Officials from the Church of Scientology proposed that one of the victims would face expulsion unless she agreed to a non-disclosure arrangement and accepted a settlement of $400,000 (£320,000), as per the prosecutors’ statement.
Throughout the hearing, Judge Olmedo permitted representatives from both parties to delve into the beliefs and practice of Scientology, much to the irritation of the organization.
Responding to the May verdict, the Church of Scientology denied any substantiation of the “sensational accusations of harassment towards the accusers”.