That ‘70s Show actor Masterson charged with multiple rapes
Los Angeles, – US actor and Scientologist Danny Masterson has been charged with raping three women at his home in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles prosecutors said Wednesday.
The star of TV shows That ‘70s Show and The Ranch allegedly raped the women, all in their twenties at the time, “by force or fear” in separate incidents between 2001 and 2003.
Masterson, 44, faces a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in prison if convicted on all charges.
His lawyer Tom Mesereau denied the allegations, saying: “Mr Masterson is innocent, and we’re confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify.”
Prosecutors dropped two further sexual assault cases against Masterson over lack of evidence and the statute of limitations passing, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said.
Masterson, who has been married to actress Bijou Phillips since 2011, rose to fame with the 1998 launch of retro sitcom That ‘70s Show, where he played the character of Steven Hyde alongside fellow stars Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher.
He co-starred again with Kutcher on Netflix’s The Ranch, but was fired in 2017 and written off the show after Los Angeles police confirmed they were investigating multiple rape allegations against him.
At the time, Masterson said the claims were motivated by the producer of an anti-Scientology television series.
Four women last year filed a lawsuit against him and the Church of Scientology alleging they were stalked, harassed and intimidated after reporting abuse to Los Angeles police.
Masterson’s lawyer added: “Obviously, Mr Masterson and his wife 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.”
His arraignment is scheduled for September. - AFP