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Danny Masterson declines to take the stand at his rape trial

The “That ’70s Show” star is charged with raping three women from 2001 to 2003 — all former members of the Church of Scientology, to which he still belongs.
2017 CMT Music Awards - Show
Danny Masterson at the 2017 CMT Music Awards. Mike Coppola / Getty Images for CMT

LOS ANGELES — “That ’70s Show” star Danny Masterson told the court Monday that he would not testify at his own rape trial.

Masterson, who is charged with three counts of forcible rape, asserted his right to not testify on the 19th day of the closely watched Hollywood trial after Los Angeles County Superior Court Charlaine F. Olmedo asked the sitcom star if he’d consulted his lawyers.

“I have, your honor,” Masterson replied.

At that point, Masterson’s defense attorney Philip Cohen said he was not calling any new witnesses and Olmedo declared that closing arguments would begin Tuesday.

Masterson, 46, who has pleaded not guilty to three counts of forcible rape and remains free on $3.3 million bail, has denied all the allegations against him.

His announcement came after a fourth woman testified last week that he raped her twice, more than two decades ago after they had met on a movie set. Masterson is not charged with raping the woman, an actress identified in court as Jane Doe #4.

Unlike the three women Masterson is charged with raping, Jane Doe #4 is not a former or current member of the Church of Scientology. And she testified over the objections of Masterson’s defense team.

But her testimony last Wednesday mirrored in many ways the testimony of the other women Masterson is charged with raping from 2001 to 2003 at his Hollywood Hills home.

Cohen made his third request for a mistrial after Jane Doe #4 finished testifying and was again rebuffed by the judge. 

Olmedo had initially denied the prosecution’s request to put Jane Doe #4 on the stand but the judge changed her mind after Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller argued that Cohen had opened the door by suggesting that Masterson’s three other accusers had colluded against him.

Mueller said the jury should be aware that another woman is “out there with similar experience with Mr. Masterson who also was interviewed” by Los Angeles police detectives.

Masterson remains a member of the Church of Scientology. And while Olmedo made it clear early on that the church was not on trial, she allowed testimony by two of Masterson’s accusers who said they were rebuffed when they told Scientology officials he had raped them.

Those same women also testified they were subjected to stalking and other acts of retaliation by members of the church after they reported the allegations to police.

Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw has denied those allegations and insisted that church doctrine requires members to “abide by all the laws of the land.”

Scientology was started in 1952 by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. The religion asserts in its official statements of beliefs that man is an immortal spiritual being with unlimited capabilities, and it offers, for a price, one-on-one “auditing” and classes designed to help members achieve a “clear” spiritual state. It strongly opposes the science of psychiatry as “disastrous.”