The rape case against Danny Masterson has commenced, with an emotional preliminary hearing where three of his alleged victims provided testimony.
Masterson, best known for starring in That ‘70s Show, has been accused of three counts of rape which occurred in the early 2000s.
A member of the Church of Scientology – Masterson’s trial has pointed an unwanted spotlight towards the secretive organisation.
According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, the three women have purportedly revealed how the church actively tried to cover up Masterson’s crimes and prevent them from going to the police.
One woman, who claims to have been raped by Masterson in 2001, says the church wanted her to write a declaration to “take responsibility” for the assault.
Another woman was born into the Church of Scientology and alleges Masterson raped her in 2004. She described how the church sent lawyers to her family home, threatening to expel her if she went to the police.
“We’re going to work out how you can not lose your daughter.” The lawyer allegedly told the woman’s father.
One of Masterson’s accusers said she was told to read “Introduction to Scientology Ethics”, discouraging members from talking to the police. She went on to describe how a church official asked her not to use the “R-word” and said it was a “high crime” to report fellow Scientologists.
Disturbingly, she claims the church also told her to take an “ethics course”, because she must have done something to “deserve what [Masterson] did to me.”
The case against Masterson was allowed to proceed to trial after a Judge Olmedo ruled there was sufficient evidence. Olmedo acknowledged that Scientology held “an expressly written doctrine” that “not only discourages, but prohibits” reporting each other to the police.
During the hearing Masterson’s attorney, Thomas Mesereau, reportedly tried to limit the discussion of Scientology in the case. Judge Olmedo dismissed his request, calling it “interesting” that Mesereau would ask to limit the involvement of Scientology when he had referenced the church “88 times in a 29-page brief”.
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