Jury deliberations in Danny Masterson’s rape trial hit a snag Monday when two jurors tested positive for Covid-19 and one of the four alternate jurors came down with strep throat.
Judge Charlaine Olmedo excused all three, replacing the Covid sufferers with 2 alternates and leaving the new panel made up of six women and six men. And she admonished the refreshed jury to ‘start over’ with their deliberations.
The accused TV star’s attorney, Philip Cohen, objected to ‘any change in the jury at this point’ and called for a mistrial – which was denied by the judge. Masterson, 46, was in court Monday wearing a gray-blue suite and open-necked blue shirt.
His actress wife Bijou Phillips, 42, was with him, as she has been every day of the five weeks of trial and jury deliberations.
Danny Masterson, 46, was in court Monday wearing a gray-blue suite and open-necked blue shirt. On Monday two jurors tested positive for Covid-19 and one of the four alternate jurors came down with strep throat
Masterson’s actress wife Bijou Phillips, 42, was with him, as she has been every day of the five weeks of trial and jury deliberations
The jurors in Danny Masterson’s Los Angeles rape trial announced they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on November 18
Ten days ago the jury announced they were deadlocked on all three rape charges against the Scientologist actor.
The panel of seven women and five men deliberated for three days before declaring on Friday, November 18 they were unable to reach unanimous verdicts – a legal requirement for Masterson to be found guilty.
That would seem to indicate a mistrial could be in the offing.
But presiding Judge Olmedo refused to declare a mistrial, telling jurors they had spent ‘insufficient time’ to reach a decision.
She sent them home for the Thanksgiving week and ordered them back to the criminal court in downtown LA Monday to resume their deliberations.
Just how much more time they should continue to deliberate before being declared a hung jury is the judge’s decision.
But when that time is up, if jurors are still unable to reach a unanimous verdict, Judge Olmedo will have no choice but to declare a mistrial.
That would mean that the That ’70s Show star would be free and the LA District Attorney would have to decide whether to refile charges against him and bring him back to court for a second trial.
Just before the jury was sent home for Thanksgiving break, a slight smile could be seen creeping across Masterson’s face knowing full well he wouldn’t be court for another ten days
The That ’70s show actor appeared relaxed as he was was accompanied by wife Bijou Phillips as they left court on November 18. The panel said they were deadlocked after three days of deliberating
Masterson, 46 – who did not testify in his own defense at the month-long trial – has pleaded not guilty to raping three women, all of them Scientologists, at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003.
He is facing up to 45 years in prison if convicted of all three charges – 30 years if convicted of two of the charges – plus the likelihood of being ordered to register as a sex offender.
Presiding Judge Charlaine Olmedo refused to declare a mistrial yet, telling jurors they had spent ‘insufficient time’ to reach a decision
But if the jurors convict him of only one rape, that could produce the same result as if he were found not guilty on all charges or if a mistrial were declared: he would walk out of court a free man.
With a conviction of just one offense, it’s unclear whether he’d face any penalty at all, because the 10-year statute of limitations on that one offense – which carries a maximum 15 year sentence – has already run out.
In the State of California, that statute of limitations does not apply if an offender is convicted of multiple sex assaults
So Masterson is only facing jail time if he’s convicted of more than one of the charges.
Should he only be found guilty of one, Judge Olmedo will have to rule on whether there is a penalty. Or if Masterson is entitled to an acquittal – or overturn of the conviction – because the statute of limitations does kick in on just one rape offense.
If she hands down an acquittal or overturn of the one guilty finding, he goes free.
Asked by DailyMail.com to clarify what happens to Masterson if he’s only convicted of one rape, Deputy District Attorney Ariel Anson – who has been prosecuting the case with DDA Reinhold Mueller – would only say, ‘There could be a statute of limitations issue.’
Masterson, 46 – who did not testify in his own defense at the month-long trial – has pleaded not guilty to raping three women, all of them Scientologists, at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003
All three rapes allegedly occurred at Masterson’s Hollywood Hills house
During the highly-publicized trial – which started five weeks ago – Scientology was front and center almost every day. Masterson’s lawyer, Philip Cohen, said the church was mentioned more than 700 times.
Cohen tried unsuccessfully to get the trial delayed till after the recent LA Mayoral election because anti-Scientology TV ads made by rival candidates Karen Bass and Rick Caruso could prejudice the jury against his client, who is a prominent member of the church.
All three women accusing Masterson of rape – whom DailyMail.com is identifying only as Jane Does 1-3 – testified that the reason they took so long to report him to the police was their fear of retribution from the Church of Scientology.
They said that church officials warned them not to use the word rape, that turning in a fellow Scientologist to law enforcement was considered a ‘high crime’, and if they disobeyed that doctrine, they could be declared a ‘suppressive person’, cast out by the church and cut off from family and friends.
Jane Doe #1 burst into tears as she haltingly recounted the night in September 2002 when she woke to find Masterson allegedly penetrating her anally
Jane Doe #2, testified that Masterson invited her to his house sometime in late 2003. She said that he gave her a glass of wine to drink and then ordered her, ‘like a drill sergeant,’ to remove her clothes and get in his jacuzzi
Jane Doe #3 told jurors that Masterson violently raped her after ignoring her repeated pleas and left her feeling like a ‘rag doll’
Jane Doe 1 had told the court that in April 2003 she was at Masterson’s house where he gave her a fruity red drink with vodka that made her feel woozy, then threw her in his Jacuzzi, carried her upstairs where she passed out and woke up to find him raping her
She fought back, pushed a pillow into his face, she told the jury. But he pushed it back into her face, smothering her and she blacked out again.
When she woke, Masterson opened a bedside draw and pulled out a gun which he brandished, telling her, ‘Don’t f——ing move.’
Jane Doe 3 – who lived with Masterson for six years – was only 17 when she met him and he persuaded her to become a Scientologist, the court heard.
About a year into their relationship he became very controlling…and very aggressive sexually – she would often wake up at night and he would be on top of her, having sex with her, she told the court
In one such incident in November 2001, when she woke up to find him having sex with her, she told him no and tried to push him off, the court heard.
When that didn’t work, she pulled his hair. But he retaliated by hitting her across the face and calling her ‘white trash,’ said prosecutors.
Danny Masterson played wise-cracking Steven Hyde on That ’70s Show from 1998 to 2006. Pictured l-r Laura Prepon, Ashton Kutcher, Topher Grace, Masterson, Mila Kunis, Wilmer Valderrama
Jane Doe 2 met Masterson at a bar in 2003 and gave him her phone number. He called her and invited her to his home. She went, and, the court heard, after a stint in his Jacuzzi she found herself in his bathroom shower with him where he ‘suddenly shoved his penis into her vagina….She said no, I told you no sex.’
They ended up in Masterson’s bed where, despite her protests, he flipped her over and started pounding her from behind ‘like a jackhammer,’ she testified, adding that she felt ‘like a limp rag doll.’
Masterson’s attorney, Philip Cohen challenged ‘inconsistencies’ in the womens’ testimony and statements to police, accusing them of ‘blatant fabrications.’
And he asserted that the three had ‘colluded,’ choreographing their rape stories to help get Masterson convicted – which in turn could help them win a big cash payout in a civil lawsuit they have brought against the actor and the Church of Scientology, claiming that they’ve been harassed and intimidated since reporting him to police.