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'That '70s Show' actor Danny Masterson charged with three counts of rape in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles County district attorney alleges that Masterson forcibly raped three women in separate incidents occurring from 2001 to 2003.
Image: Danny Masterson arrives at the Youth for Human Rights International Celebrity Benefit in Los Angeles
Danny Masterson arrives at the Youth for Human Rights International Celebrity Benefit in Los Angeles on March 24, 2014.Annie I. Bang / Invision/AP file

"That '70s Show" actor Danny Masterson was charged with rape in three separate cases alleged to have occurred nearly two decades ago, Los Angeles officials announced Wednesday.

A warrant was filed against Masterson, 44, on Tuesday for three counts of rape by force in connection with allegations of assault of three different women from 2001 to 2003, according to a release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Masterson is accused of raping a 23-year-old woman between January and December of 2001 and a 28-year-old woman in April 2003 in his home and a 28-year-old woman in April 2003 in his home. A different 23-year-old woman alleges that Masterson raped her after he invited her to his home in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood sometime from October to December 2003, the prosecutor's office said.

The women are considered victims of sexual assault and were not named in the district attorney's release.

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Masterson's attorney said Masterson is innocent and will be exonerated.

The alleged victims in a statement distributed by their attorneys said in part, "all we have wanted was justice, accountability, and truth."

"We are thankful that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office is finally seeking criminal justice against Masterson after a three-year investigation," the statement read. "We are confident that the truth will be known and hope that the charges filed today are the first steps in this long journey of healing, justice, and holding those that victimized us accountable.”

Prosecutors declined to charge Masterson in connection with two other sexual assault allegations, according to the district attorney's office, because of insufficient evidence in one and because the statute of limitations had expired in the other.

Inmate records show that Masterson was booked into the Los Angeles County Jail on Wednesday and released on bond at about 2:45 p.m. local time. Bail was set at $3.3 million.

He faces a possible maximum sentence of 45 years to life in state prison if he is convicted on all three charges.

Masterson's attorney, Tom Mesereau, insisted in a statement to NBC News that the actor was innocent and that he would be exonerated when "all the evidence comes to light."

"Obviously, Mr. Masterson and his wife are in complete shock considering that these nearly 20-year-old allegations are suddenly resulting in charges being filed, but they and their family are comforted knowing that ultimately the truth will come out," Mesereau said. "The people who know Mr. Masterson know his character and know the allegations to be false."

Masterson left the Netflix series "The Ranch" in 2017 after four women accused him of rape, accusations that Masterson denied at the time. Masterson starred in "The Ranch" with Ashton Kutcher and was an executive producer for the show.

It is unclear whether those allegations are related to the charges announced Wednesday.

"I am obviously very disappointed in Netflix's decision to write my character off of 'The Ranch.' From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me," Masterson said in a statement to NBC News in 2017. "Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit."

The accusations against Masterson became public amid the beginning stages of the #MeToo movement, when victims were encouraged to speak out against sexual harassment and misconduct perpetuated by powerful figures.