Actor Danny Masterson, a star of That ’70s Show, has been charged with raping three women, the Los Angeles County District Attorney announced Wednesday.
Masterson allegedly forcibly raped the unnamed women—a 23-year-old, a 28-year-old, and another 23-year-old—between 2001 and 2003. His arraignment is scheduled for September, and if he’s convicted, he’ll face 45 years to life in prison.
The District Attorney’s office also noted it had declined to file charges against Masterson in two additional cases—one for lack of evidence and one due to the passage of the statute of limitations.
Masterson’s attorney denied the allegations in a statement: “Mr. Masterson is innocent, and we’re confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify.”
The actor was fired from Netflix’s show The Ranch, which he co-produced and starred in with fellow ’70s Show actor Ashton Kutcher, when the allegations originally broke in 2017. The accusations against Masterson are notable for their involvement of the Church of Scientology, which has gone after his accusers in an alleged attempt to silence them. Masterson is a member of the religious organization, and the mother of one of his accusers has penned multiple letters to Scientology leadership pleading for action against the actor.
“Where is the Justice code?” the mother asked, referring to how the church treated her daughter. She alleged that the church pressured the victim to meet with Masterson despite the violent nature of her accusation—Masterson allegedly smothered the victim with a pillow and choked her—and attempted to impose a de facto fine by obliging her to complete expensive Scientology “auditing” courses. Her daughter came close to being labeled a “suppressive person,” which would in effect evict her from the church. “Celebs are exempt from these codes?...The fate of any young girl going anywhere near Danny lies in our hands, please help me.”
Four women filed suit against Masterson and the Church of Scientology in August 2019, alleging stalking and intimidation aimed at burying the allegations. One plaintiff said her dog had been murdered.
The allegations against Masterson have been public knowledge for several years, first coming to light in March 2017. The Los Angeles Police Department’s investigation reportedly stalled inexplicably for several months that same year.
Before his dismissal from The Ranch, his accusers blasted Netflix and Kutcher multiple times for continuing to air the show and even ordering a new season. Kutcher even attended Masterson’s 2018 wedding more than a year after news of the allegations broke.
In January 2019, one of Masterson’s accusers, Chrissie Carnell Bixler, blasted Kutcher’s relationship with the actor in a statement to The Daily Beast.
“Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have positioned themselves as champions for women, children, fighting against sexual abuses and sex trafficking. Public supporters of the Me Too movement and Time’s Up. Ashton and Mila were at the forefront marching in the Women’s March on March 13, 2018, in Los Angeles,” she wrote.
“As much as I applaud them for standing up for women, I am left confused and heartbroken as to why they refuse to stand up for all the women they know who have been violently raped by their friend Danny Masterson.”
The cable network A&E pulled an episode of its high-profile show Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath in February 2019 that focused on the accusations against Masterson after what one of his accusers described as a campaign of hateful letters written to A&E.