Back in the courthouse. Danny Masterson, 47, who starred on That ’70s Show for over eight years, was seen leaving a Los Angeles courthouse on Monday. The actor was spotted wearing a black suit as he took a lunch break alongside his legal team. Danny’s return to the courthouse comes amid the start of the retrial for the sexual assault trial that first began in Oct. and Nov. 2022. He faces the same three rape charges brought against him that are associated with the three alleged victims from cases that date back to 2003, per Variety.
The allegations were first brought to light in Mar. 2017. “The LAPD’s Rape and Homicide Division is currently investigating alleged sexual assaults involving the actor Danny Masterson,” a spokesperson from the LAPD told HollywoodLife at the time. “Three women have come forward making the complaints which reportedly happened during the early 2000s.” One of his lawyers, Tom Mesereau, maintained Danny’s innocence in a 2020 statement.
“Obviously, Mr. Masterson and his wife [Bijou Phillips] are in complete shock considering that these nearly 20-year old allegations are suddenly resulting in charges being filed, but they and their family are comforted knowing that ultimately the truth will come out. The people who know Mr. Masterson know his character and know the allegations to be false,” he said at the time. Danny was charged with three counts of rape “by force or fear” in June 2020.
Although Danny currently faces a maximum of 45 years to life in a state prison, he has continued to have the charges dismissed. Most recently, on Jan. 6, 2023, the 47-year-old asked the court to use their “discretion” and dismiss the charges against him, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. “If the evidence will not materially change and a retrial is likely to result in acquittal or another hung jury, the fact suggests that dismissal would be in the interest of justice,” his other lawyer, Philip Kent Cohen, wrote in statement obtained by THR at the time. L.A. County Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo officially declared a mistrial on Nov. 30, 2022, after a month-long trial resulted in a hung jury.
Two of the alleged victims released a statement in regards to the retrial, per Variety. “We are pleased that Danny Masterson will not be permitted to simply escape criminal accountability,” the statement read. “Despite suffering years of intimidation and harassment, we are completely committed to participating in the next criminal trial to the extent requested by prosecutors and again testifying about Mr. Masterson’s depraved behavior.” There are currently over “200 prospective jurors” being questioned for selection, which will ultimately result in 12 jurors and “eight alternates”, per the same outlet.
Testimonies for the retrial are slated to commence on Apr. 24, and could last up to two months, however, the judge “does not expect” it to “last that long.” Cohen confirmed Monday that Danny’s witness list is “basically the same as the last one.” And although Variety reported that this trial will be fairly similar to the last one, some of the few changes that can be expected include “new expert witnesses and corroborating witnesses” along with “more experts to testify about the effects drugs and alcohol can have on memory.” Despite the fact that the jury could not reach a unanimous decision last fall, they did lean “toward acquittal” with their votes being 10-2, 8-4 and 7-5 on the three counts.