As powerful men continue to fall in a long-awaited purge, accusers are quickly finding out that not every allegation is treated equally.
At Netflix, there appears to be some sort of a bar for bad men; while the entertainment company has very publicly severed professional ties with comedian Louis C.K. and actor Kevin Spacey, it has been reticent to address sexual assault allegations against The Ranch’s Danny Masterson.
The pending case against Masterson first went public last March, when journalist Tony Ortega published a slew of accusations and documents on his blog, The Underground Bunker. Ortega broke the news that the Los Angeles Police Department had been investigating the Scientologist and actor for “at least three alleged cases of rape or sodomy of women who were also Scientologists and who claim they were pressured by the Church of Scientology not to contact police or go public with their accusations.”
A subsequent statement from LAPD’s robbery-homicide division confirmed that, “The Los Angeles Police Department Robbery Homicide Division, Sexual Assault Section, is conducting an investigation involving the actor Danny Masterson. Three women have come forward and disclosed that they were sexually assaulted by Masterson during the early 2000s.”
This month, The Huffington Post’s Yashar Ali revealed that, according to multiple sources, “Four women have accused Masterson of raping them in the early 2000s,” but “a monthslong investigation into multiple allegations of rape against actor Danny Masterson has inexplicably stalled, despite the Los Angeles County district attorney having compelling evidence in the case.”
Ali further reported that the LAPD began interviewing accusers in late 2016. He continued, “Despite compelling—what one law enforcement source described as ‘overwhelming’—evidence, the charges have not been approved for filing. The evidence includes audiotapes, emails sent to and from Scientology officers at the time the alleged rapes happened, forensic computer evidence and a threatening handwritten letter Masterson sent to one of the alleged victims, according to two people with knowledge of the evidence in the district attorney’s possession.”
Masterson currently appears on The Ranch, a Netflix Original that he co-produces and co-stars on with longtime friend Ashton Kutcher. Netflix renewed the series in April 2016; on October 17, 2017, Masterson and Kutcher revealed that The Ranch: Part 4 would drop in December. As Ali noted, this October announcement came a full seven months after Ortega made the LAPD’s case against Masterson public. While Netflix does not feign ignorance of Masterson’s alleged crimes, they’ve refused to take definitive action in light of the alleged assaults. A spokesperson told HuffPost, “We are aware of the allegations and the subsequent investigation, and will respond if developments occur.”
When pressed for comment by The Daily Beast this week for this story, a Netflix spokesperson said that they didn’t have anything to add to the previous statement.
On July 4, 2017, the official The Ranch Twitter gleefully announced that, “20 More Episodes of #TheRanch Are Coming in 2018!”
One of Masterson’s rape accusers, Chrissie Carnell Bixler, told The Daily Beast that she “can no longer be silent,” adding, “the only way to protect ourselves is to speak.”
Her full statement is as follows:
“I was sick when I read Netflix’s statement on continuing with The Ranch and continuing their working relationship with a man who has violently raped and abused so many women. Four months after the story broke, and the LAPD confirmed a criminal investigation, Netflix ordered another season of The Ranch. After the HuffPost piece, and the journalist reaching out 15 times to get a statement from Netflix, [they] ultimately said they will continue to work with Masterson until something develops. (Not the actual quote obviously.)”
“For me, what Netflix has done, feels like a continuation of how the Church of Scientology made me feel when I reported my rape to them, as well as how Danny Masterson made me feel when I would beg him for an apology, an explanation, anything. I was made to feel unimportant. I was made to feel like I didn’t matter. Like what Danny Masterson did to me didn’t matter. My body doesn’t matter, because it doesn’t belong to me. The trauma and emotional pain doesn’t matter, because I just don’t matter. ‘Danny Masterson is a celebrity. He flourishes and prospers in life. You protect that and reward that.’ -direct quote from the Church of Scientology. I don’t matter. The other women don’t matter. Our pain means nothing, and we should be good little girls and shut our mouths. No! I’m going to be an amazing woman who will NOT shut my mouth when I find out my rapist raped countless other women. I will NOT shut my mouth when Netflix tries to make us feel like we don’t matter. We DO matter. We ARE important. We will see justice for what was done to us, and is continuing to be done to us...and for all those who knew/know and are either actively helping this serial rapist or are choosing to stay silent...YOU don’t matter.”
“Victims are taking back the power that was stolen from us, and things are going to change. Netflix should write that down.”
Danny Masterson did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
When pressed for comment, The Church of Scientology later sent a statement that read, in part: “The Church adamantly denies (1) that when Chrissie Carnell came to the Church regarding the relationship she made any criminal allegations (2) that a Church representative made the statement contained in your article and (3) the implication the Church would ignore the criminal behavior of certain members, especially at the expense of alleged victims. The Church follows all laws and cooperates with law enforcement. Any statement or implication to the contrary is false.”