Scientologist Danny Masterson asks to postpone rape trial until after mayoral election

bourbiza4 October 2022Last Update : 2 months ago
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Scientologist Danny Masterson asks to postpone rape trial until after mayoral election


The Los Angeles Democratic mayoral race between Karen Bass and billionaire Rick Caruso – and their clashes over the Church of Scientology – took center stage today at a hearing about the upcoming rape trial of That ’70s Show star Danny Masterson.

Jury selection for the trial is scheduled to start on October 11 at LA Superior Court’s downtown criminal court where the Scientologist actor, 46, has pleaded not guilty to raping three women at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003.

But today, Masterson’s attorney, Philip Cohen, asked Judge Charlaine Olmedo to postpone the trial until after the November 8 mayoral election, arguing that a jury could be prejudiced by remarks both candidates have made in campaign ads, condemning Scientology.

One thing Bass and Caruso do agree on is that ‘they don’t like Scientology,’ Cohen told the court. ‘The public is being inundated with this (campaign ads) – it is a significant problem for Mr. Masterson.’ 

That '70s Show actor Danny Masterson appeared in court today ahead of his rape trial in Los Angeles

That ’70s Show actor Danny Masterson appeared in court today ahead of his rape trial in Los Angeles

Rick Caruso

Karen Bass

Masterson’s lawyer Philip Cohen asked the judge to delay the trial until after the Los Angeles mayoral race on November 8. Both candidates – Karen Bass and Rick Caruso – have bashed the Church of Scientology in television ads

In one campaign TV ad, Caruso used footage of his opponent Karen Bass at a Scientology event and splices in clips that seem to indicate that she supports the controversial church. Bass responded in her own ad, saying she does not support the church and insisted, 'Everybody knows Karen Bass condemns Scientology'

In one campaign TV ad, Caruso used footage of his opponent Karen Bass at a Scientology event and splices in clips that seem to indicate that she supports the controversial church. Bass responded in her own ad, saying she does not support the church and insisted, ‘Everybody knows Karen Bass condemns Scientology’

In one campaign TV ad, Caruso uses footage of Bass at a Scientology event and splices in clips that seem to indicate that she supports the controversial church.

Bass responded in her own ad, saying she does not support the church and insisted, ‘Everybody knows Karen Bass condemns Scientology.’

Judge Charlaine Olmedo said she would rule later today on the defense's motion to delay the trial

Judge Charlaine Olmedo said she would rule later today on the defense’s motion to delay the trial

Today at court – where Masterson showed up in a gray suit, white shirt and dark red tie – Cohen contended that his client’s trial should be delayed until at least after the November 8 election to prevent a jury from being biased by the candidates’ anti-Scientology comments.

‘These (TV) ads will continue right up to election day,’ he said. ‘Even if we get a jury that swears to be unbiased by this ad campaign, it’s going to be very difficult to get them not to watch TV.’

Cohen called the campaign ads ‘inflammatory’ and ‘horrible timing for the defense.’

Adding that ‘The word ”Scientology” never needs to come up’ during Masterson trial – that’s expected to last a month – Cohen suggested the church could be referred to as a club or simply church.’

Prosecutor Reinhold Mueller suggested that in a questionnaire issued to jurors in Masterson’s trial ‘any issues that the defense has with Scientology could be screened out.’

But Cohen countered, telling the court, ‘The jurors could make it through the questionnaire but still see the anti-Scientology ads on TV.

‘I don’t watch a lot of TV so if I am seeing them, a lot of people are seeing them. These ads can play into the thoughts of the jurors.’

Judge Olmedo said she would rule later today on the defense’s motion to delay the trial.

Meanwhile, the legal team of Masterson – who has been free on $3.3 million bail since his arrest in June 2020 – also objected today to a former Scientologist the prosecution plans to introduce at trial as an ‘expert witness.’

In a written declaration explaining her one-time membership in the Church of Scientology, the witness described how she ‘escaped from Scientology Headquarters in 2005.’

‘This is clearly not an unbiased person,’ blasted another Masterson attorney, Karen Goldstein.

‘She has never testified in court as an expert before. In terms of sheer bias, this one is undeniable. She is not qualified.

‘What is supposed to be a case about Mr. Masterson is turning into a referendum on Scientology.’

The prosecution defended their ‘expert witness’, saying that her testimony would be ‘very limited and confined to the language and organization of the Church of Scientology, not its teachings.’

Again, Judge Olmedo will rule later on the expert witness issue.

Masterson showed up to court in a gray suit, white shirt and dark red tie. His lawyer contended that the trial should be delayed until at least after the November 8 election to prevent a jury from being biased by the candidates' anti-Scientology comments

Masterson showed up to court in a gray suit, white shirt and dark red tie. His lawyer contended that the trial should be delayed until at least after the November 8 election to prevent a jury from being biased by the candidates’ anti-Scientology comments

Masterson's accusers are former Scientologists and are also suing him and the Church of Scientology in civil court

Masterson’s accusers are former Scientologists and are also suing him and the Church of Scientology in civil court

Later Monday, attorney Cohen continued his efforts to separate Masterson from the notoriety of Scientology, telling the court that any moves mayoral candidates Rep. Bass and Caruso make ‘to distance themselves from Scientology, give them a better chance of being elected mayor of Los Angeles.’

‘This is a really big problem for Mr. Masterson. There is a really negative view of Scientology and every time Scientology is mentioned, it becomes harder and harder for Mr. Masterson to have a fair trial.’

Telling the court that the general public’s view of Scientology is ‘more negative than any other religion’, Cohen added. ‘There is a significant chance of prejudice (in the jury) in bringing Scientology into this case.’

Cohen asked the judge to exclude even mentioning the word ‘Scientology’ during Masterson’s trial, arguing that it would be irrelevant, inflammatory, confusing to the jury, and violate his client’s First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights.

He said a jury could reach an ’emotional verdict based on Mr. Masterson’s association with Scientology.’

Later Monday, attorney Cohen continued his efforts to separate Masterson from the notoriety of Scientology, telling the court that any moves mayoral candidates Rep. Bass and Caruso make 'to distance themselves from Scientology, give them a better chance of being elected mayor of Los Angeles'

Later Monday, attorney Cohen continued his efforts to separate Masterson from the notoriety of Scientology, telling the court that any moves mayoral candidates Rep. Bass and Caruso make ‘to distance themselves from Scientology, give them a better chance of being elected mayor of Los Angeles’

'This is a really big problem for Mr. Masterson. There is a really negative view of Scientology and every time Scientology is mentioned, it becomes harder and harder for Mr. Masterson to have a fair trial,' Cohen noted

‘This is a really big problem for Mr. Masterson. There is a really negative view of Scientology and every time Scientology is mentioned, it becomes harder and harder for Mr. Masterson to have a fair trial,’ Cohen noted

Prosecutor Mueller hit back, telling the court, ‘I could not disagree more…I do not believe the word Scientology is as inflammatory as the defense states.

‘There are a lot of topics that come up in a trial that are highly inflammable but that does not mean they are inadmissible. You don’t sanitize them completely.

‘Scientology is not on trial here. Burt there will be aspects of Scientology that will come in here that will explain what happened….

‘There would be so much (during trial) that would be inexplicable to the jury if they didn’t know the Scientology context that we’re talking about.’

One of those ‘contexts’ he talked about was the reason the three accusers took almost two decades to report that Masterson allegedly raped them.

‘Scientology has been part of their lives,’ said Mueller who explained that the alleged victims believed the Church did not allow them to report a fellow church member to the police and they feared that if they did, family and friend still in the Church would turn their backs on them.’

But Cohen took issue with Mueller’s argument, suggesting that the real motive the three women have for supporting the criminal rape case against Masterson is to win money in a civil suit against him.

‘Why would these three women want to put themselves through his (criminal trial)?’ he asked. ‘One explanation is that somebody is looking for monetary gain.

‘Three women filed a civil lawsuit against Mr. Masterson with the purpose of winning monetary damages.’

Cohen explained that the civil court statute of limitations has actually run out for Masterson to be sued by the women for rape. But if he is convicted in criminal court, they will have one year from the conviction to reinstate a civil case for rape.

Masterson’s accusers – whom DailyMail.com is identifying only as Jane Does 1 through 3 – are former Scientologists and are also suing him and the Church of Scientology in civil court, claiming they’ve been harassed and intimidated since reporting the actor to police.

In the criminal rape case, at a three-day pre-trial hearing in May last year, all three broke down in tears as they took the witness stand to give harrowing and wrenching accounts of being raped by Masterson.

Jane Doe 1 told how he threw her in his jacuzzi, raped her and then pulled a gun on her, telling her, ‘Don’t say a f—king word. You’re not going to tell anybody.’

Jane Doe 2 described how he ‘ravaged her like a rag doll and pounded her from behind like a jackhammer.’

Jane Doe 3 recounted how she woke up naked to find Masterson raping her and when she tried to fight him off, he hit her and spit on her, calling her ‘white trash’.

All three said before each alleged rape, Masterson gave them a drink after which they felt ‘blurry’ and disoriented.

Masterson has failed twice to get the three rape charges he’s facing thrown out of court.

When Judge Olmedo last year denied his first motion to dismiss, he sent his legal team back to court in February this year to ask a different judge, Ronald Coen, for dismissal, arguing that Judge Olmedo’s denial of the motion was ‘based on a legal error.’

But Judge Coen rejected the second dismissal motion and sent the case back to Judge Olmedo who ordered Masterson to stand trial.

His second attempt to get the charges kicked out of court centered around testimony from his three accusers at the pretrial where they contended that they waited a long time to report the alleged rapes because they were afraid of retribution from the Church of Scientology.

At that hearing, Judge Olmedo criticized the church for its ‘written doctrine that not only discourages but prohibits’ a Scientologist from reporting another church member to the police.

And she ruled that the church’s ‘expressly written doctrine sufficiently explains the hesitancy and lateness’ in reporting the alleged rapes.’

Masterson is married to actress Bijou Phillips. She is standing by his side and proudly drove him to court previously

Masterson is married to actress Bijou Phillips. She is standing by his side and proudly drove him to court previously 

Masterson  played wise-cracking Steven Hyde on That '70s Show from 1998 to 2006

Masterson  played wise-cracking Steven Hyde on That ’70s Show from 1998 to 2006 

Masterson’s attorney, Philip Cohen, questioned whether ‘the magistrate’s (Judge Olmedo) ruling was based on a legal error……because that written doctrine does not exist.’

And he cast doubt on the credibility of all three alleged victims whose testimony, he said contained ‘a myriad of inconsistencies.’

Prosecutor Mueller countered, calling Cohen’s argument ‘a lot of supposition and speculation about what the magistrate was thinking at the time of her ruling.’

Judge Coen denied the second motion to dismiss, saying he agreed with Judge Olmedo’s finding that the evidence and testimony of the alleged victims’ at the pre-trial hearing was ‘credible and sufficient to support the charges.’

The church sent an attorney to last February’s hearing to file an Amicus Brief – a brief filed by a person or organization who is not a party to the case but wishes to contribute information or advice that might be helpful to the court.

The church’s brief – aimed at Judge Olmedo’s criticism of Scientology doctrine that she said prohibited Scientologist from reporting other church members to the police – argued, ‘It is incorrect – that is not the doctrine of the Church of Scientology.’

But Judge Coen denied the Amicus Brief, telling the court, ‘This goes beyond the scope of my authority.’



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