“The world is better off with you in prison.”
Associated Press | Andrew Dalton
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Danny Masterson, star of “That ’70s Show,” was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison on Thursday for raping two women two decades ago.
After hearing statements from the women about the trauma they experienced and the suffering caused by the disturbing memories in the years since, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo handed down the sentence to the 47-year-old Masterson.
The actor, who has been detained since May, sat in court dressed formally. Masterson stood there silently watching the women as they spoke.
“When you raped me, you stole from me,” said one of the victims of Masterson’s rape in 2003. “That’s what rape is, a theft of the spirit.”
“You’re pathetic, disturbed, and completely violent,” she declared. “The world is better off with you in prison.”
The other woman who was raped by Masterson said he “has not shown an ounce of remorse for the pain he caused.” “I knew he belonged behind bars for the safety of all the women he came into contact with,” she told the judge. I’m deeply sorry and upset. I wish I had reported him to the police sooner.”
Prosecutors retried Masterson on all three counts earlier this year after an initial jury failed to reach verdicts on three counts of rape in December, resulting in a mistrial.
Masterson waived his right to speak before being sentenced, and neither he nor the many family members sitting beside him showed any visible reaction to the judge’s decision. Earlier in the hearing, his wife, actress Bijou Phillips, was visibly moved.
After seven days of deliberation, a jury of seven women and five men found Masterson guilty of two counts on May 31. Both attacks occurred in Masterson’s Hollywood-area home in 2003, at the height of his fame from the Fox network sitcom “That ’70s Show.”
They were unable to reach a decision on the third count, which alleged that Masterson also raped a longtime girlfriend. They had voted in favor of conviction by an 8-4 margin.
The actor was sentenced after the judge denied the defense’s motion for a new trial, which was argued earlier Thursday. The sentence was the maximum permissible by law. Masterson will be eligible for parole after serving 25 1/2 years, but he could be imprisoned for life.
“Mr. Masterson, I know you’re sitting here steadfast in your claims of innocence, and thus no doubt feeling victimized by a justice system that has failed you,” Olmedo said before delivering the sentence to Masterson. “However, Mr. Masterson, you are not the victim in this case. Your actions 20 years ago robbed another person of their voice and choice. You will have to confront your previous actions and their consequences in some way.”
The defense requested that the sentences for the two convictions run concurrently, and requested a sentence of 15 years to life. The prosecution sought the maximum sentence of 30 years to life for Masterson.
“What you decide today will have an impact on his life,” Masterson’s lawyer Shawn Holley told the judge before the sentencing. “And the life of his 9-year-old daughter, who means the world to him, and to whom he means the world.”
“He has lived an exemplary life, he has been an extraordinary father, husband, brother, son, co-worker, and community servant,” Holley said.
Prosecutors claimed that Masterson used his position in the Church of Scientology, of which all three women were members at the time, to avoid prosecution for decades after the attacks.
The women blamed the church for their reluctance to report Masterson to police. They testified that when they reported him to Scientology officials, they were told they had not been raped, were put through ethics programs, and were warned not to go to law enforcement to report such a high-ranking member.
In a statement issued following the verdict, the church stated that the “testimony and descriptions of Scientology beliefs” presented during the trial were “uniformly false.”
“The Church has no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of anyone — Scientologists or not — to law enforcement,” according to the statement.
Masterson did not testify, and his attorneys did not call any witnesses. The defense claimed that the acts were consensual and attempted to discredit the women’s accounts by pointing out changes and inconsistencies over time that they claimed showed signs of coordination between them.
The women who testified against Masterson said he gave them drinks in 2003 and they became woozy or passed out before he violently raped them.
In the second trial, Olmedo allowed prosecutors and accusers to say directly that Masterson drugged the women, while only allowing the women to describe their condition in the first.
Masterson was not charged with any drugging offenses, and there was no toxicology evidence to back up the claim. The issue could be a factor in Masterson’s planned appeal from the defense of his conviction.
The Associated Press does not usually identify people who claim to have been sexually abused.
From 1998 to 2006, Masterson co-starred in “That ’70s Show” with Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Topher Grace.
He reunited with Kutcher on the 2016 Netflix comedy “The Ranch,” but was fired when a Los Angeles Police Department investigation was revealed the following year.
While the investigation began before a wave of women shook Hollywood with stories about Harvey Weinstein in October 2017, the conviction and sentencing of Masterson, along with Weinstein’s conviction last year, represents a major #MeToo era success for Los Angeles prosecutors.