LOS ANGELES — The jury weighing the rape charges against “That '70s Show” star Danny Masterson announced Friday it was deadlocked.
After three days of deliberation, the panel sent a note to the judge saying they had been "unable to reach a unanimous decision" on any of the three forcible rape counts against Masterson.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Charlaine F. Olmedo told the panel to come back on Nov. 28 and try again.
“You have been deliberating for an insufficient amount of time,” Olmedo said before excusing them for the week of Thanksgiving.
Defense attorney Philip Cohen objected to the judge's instructions.
"It really comes down to a simple analysis — do you believe the women or not," Cohen said. "I don’t think it has been an insufficient amount of time."
Cohen asked Olmedo to bring out the jurors and poll them "on what could be done to unlock the deadlock."
Olmedo declined and Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller sided with the judge. "I think they need to spend more time," he said.
So Cohen asked if the panel could resume deliberating on Monday rather than wait until after the Thanksgiving holiday. He said he was worried the jurors might read something about the case or talk about the evidence with relatives over the break.
Olmedo said that would not be possible because five of the jurors will be unavailable.
It was an unexpected twist in the closely-watched trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Masterson, who is charged with raping three women at his Hollywood Hills home from 2001 to 2003, faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted on all three counts.
The panel composed of seven women and five men began its first full day of deliberations Wednesday, a day after Masterson’s defense team and prosecutors made their closing arguments.
Masterson, 46, has denied all the allegations leveled against him by the three women, who are all former members of the Church of Scientology, to which the actor still belongs.
He has also denied assaulting a fourth woman, identified as Jane Doe #4, who told the court she too had been raped by Masterson.
Olmedo had initially denied the prosecution’s request to put Jane Doe #4 on the stand, but changed her mind after Mueller argued that Cohen had opened the door to her testimony by suggesting that Masterson’s three other accusers had colluded against him.
Unlike those accusers, Jane Doe #4 is not and has never been a Scientologist. But her testimony was similar in many ways to the testimony of the other women Masterson is charged with raping.
Masterson is not charged with raping the fourth woman.
Dua Anjum and Diana Dasrath reported from Los Angeles and Corky Siemaszko from New York City.