Jury fails to reach a verdict in rape case against American actor Danny Masterson

Danny Masterson

A jury in Los Angeles has failed to reach a verdict in a rape case against US actor Danny Masterson.

Mr Masterson, who is best known for his role in the sitcom That 70s Show, was accused of raping three women at his home in Hollywood in the early 2000s.

He had denied the charges, saying he was being persecuted for his membership of the Church of Scientology.

The office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney said it was considering its next steps in the case. A retrial has been scheduled for March.

Mr Masterson, 46, was charged in 2020 with raping three women, who were all in their 20s, between 2001 and 2003.

The accusations were made in 2017, during the MeToo movement which saw many Hollywood stars accused of sexual assault.

As a result, Mr Masterson was written out of the Netflix show The Ranch. He responded by saying that he had not been charged or convicted of a crime, and that in the climate at the time “it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused”.

If convicted, he could face 45 years to life in prison. Deliberations in the case began in mid-November, but soon reached a deadlock which could not be resolved.

In a statement, the attorney’s office said: “While we are disappointed with the outcome in this trial, we thank the jurors for their service.” It added: “We also want to give our heartfelt appreciation to the victims for bravely stepping forward and recounting their harrowing experiences.”

Two of the women involved in the case alleged that the Church of Scientology, to which they and Mr Masterson belonged, had discouraged them from reporting the alleged rapes. The Church has strongly denied pressurising victims.

The charges came after a three-year investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department. Prosecutors did not file charges in two other cases because of insufficient evidence and the statute of limitations expiring.

Mr Masterson played the role of Steven Hyde in That 70s Show between 1998 and 2006, alongside Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis.

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