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Judge Orders Deadlocked Jury in That ’70s Show Actor Danny Masterson’s Rape Trial to Return After Thanksgiving


Danny Masterson and Bijou Phillips on a sidewalk in downtown Los Angeles

Danny Masterson and his wife, Bijou Phillips, after closing arguments in Masterson’s rape trial in downtown Los Angeles on Nov. 15, 2022. [Photo by Meghann M. Cuniff/Law&Crime]

Jurors said Friday afternoon they are deadlocked on each of actor and Scientologist Danny Masterson’s three rape charges, but the judge declined to declare a mistrial and instead ordered them to return Nov. 28 for more deliberations.

The That ’70s Show star is accused of raping three women, each of whom is a former member of the Church of Scientology. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo limited testimony about Scientology to five areas: why the alleged victims didn’t contact police sooner; their fears of being declared a “suppressive person” within Scientology; the alleged harassment they’re allegedly experiencing by the Church of Scientology; and past and present ties to Scientology as it relates to their current state of mind.

Masterson’s lawyer Philip Cohen criticized the prosecution’s focus on Scientology in his closing argument, telling jurors that a word search of trial transcripts shows “Scientology” was mentioned 700 times. He also hammered home to jurors the steep burden of proof prosecutors face trying to persuade them that Masterson should be convicted of three counts of forcible rape involving three women in 2001 and 2003.

But Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller in his closing argument emphatically declared Masterson “a rapist” and “a man for whom no never meant no” while urging jurors to convict him of each count and “show him that ‘no’ actually means ‘no.'”

Olmedo told the attorneys she was “inclined to send a note back to the jury” that says “you have been deliberating for an insufficient period of time.”

Cohen, however, strongly objected to the jury not deliberating all next week.

He said the case against Masterson comes down to “do you believe the women or do you not?”

“Given the dearth of questions it doesn’t seem like there’s a whole lot of confusion going on,” Cohen said. “It seems like there’s just significant disagreement on what the evidence demonstrates.”

“My significant concern is sending the jury away for a week given what has been an extensive amount of coverage of this case including lots of things that weren’t necessarily part of the trial,” Cohen continued.

Mueller supported Olmedo’s suggestion, saying the jury needs more time to consider the four weeks of testimony. Olmedo said she would tell them to return Monday, but five jurors said they can’t be here next week because of travel and family and travel obligations, including child care.

That means deliberations are to continue Monday, Nov. 28.

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A graduate of the University of Oregon, Meghann worked at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, and the Idaho Statesman in Boise, Idaho, before moving to California in 2013 to work at the Orange County Register. She spent four years as a litigation reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and one year as a California-based editor and reporter for and associated publications such as The National Law Journal and New York Law Journal before joining Law & Crime News. Meghann has written for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Bloomberg Law, ABA Journal, The Forward, Los Angeles Business Journal and the Laguna Beach Independent. Her Twitter coverage of federal court hearings in a lawsuit over homelessness in Los Angeles placed 1st in the Los Angeles Press Club's Southern California Journalism Awards for Best Use of Social Media by an Independent Journalist in 2021. An article she freelanced for Los Angeles Times Community News about a debate among federal judges regarding the safety of jury trials during COVID also placed 1st in the Orange County Press Club Awards for Best Pandemic News Story in 2021.