Defense: Masterson’s rape case suffers from inconsistencies

The rape allegations against actor Danny Masterson are so full of inconsistencies and inconsistencies that the plaintiffs in their case implicated the Church of Scientology to help fill holes in her case, a defense attorney said Tuesday in closing arguments.

“When there are inconsistencies and inconsistencies – blame others,” said attorney Philip Cohen. “We heard about Scientology so much that it really became the right excuse.”

All three accusers and Masterson were church members at the time of the allegations two decades ago when the actor was at the height of his fame on the sitcom “That ’70s show,” and Scientology was looming large at trial in Los Angeles Superior Court.

“There are no charges against Scientology but you can’t avoid it,” said Deputy Attorney General Reinhold Müller in his rebuttal.

Mueller said the women were late in reporting the allegations because church rules prevented them from going to law enforcement and if they reported what happened to anyone else, they would be ostracized.

While Masterson is still a member of the church, the three women are not. Mueller said they were afraid to testify because they were harassed, intimidated, and stalked after they reported the crimes.

Mueller said that if the women’s statements were consistent, it would have indicated they were scripted. He said inconsistencies often arise when victims of sexual assault have to relive their ordeal when speaking to police for the first time.

“They have to get inside themselves and get rid of the pain and the trauma that they’ve buried inside of themselves,” Mueller said. “You may find some inconsistencies there.”

Masterson, who was dressed in a brown tweed suit, looked at the jury from the defense table without any apparent reaction. His wife, actress and model Bijou Phillips sat behind him at the front of the gallery along with many of his family and friends.

The jurors were sent to deliberate briefly at the end of the day before the adjournment. The panel of seven women and five men returned to court on Wednesday morning.

Masterson, 46, faces three counts of forcible rape. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 45 years in prison.

The two women testified that Masterson raped them at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003. The defense said the actions were consensual.

The women’s testimony—collectively referred to as Jane Does 1-3—was graphic and emotional. One of the women, a friend of Masterson’s personal assistant, said she vomited and passed out after he served her a mixed drink. She said she came to consciousness to find Masterson having rough and painful sex with her.

An ex-girlfriend of Masterson’s said she woke up to find him having sex with her when she had not consented.

Masterson did not testify and his attorney presented no defense evidence, instead focusing on how the women’s stories have changed over time.

“The key to this case is not when they reported it,” Cohen said. “This is what they said when they reported him. What they said after they reported him. And what they said at the trial.”

He said the prosecution’s portrayal of Masterson as a “creepy, abusive driving monster” was undermined by the testimony of his ex-girlfriend who said she willingly had sex with him after the alleged rapes.

“I get the point: Danny was painted as a monster. But when you look at the actual testimony it tells us something different,” Cohen said. “That’s the problem when it starts to deviate from the truth.”

Mueller asked the jurors to stick to the evidence and not be swayed by what he called defense speculation.

He mocked a statement Cohen made when he told jurors that they could acquit Masterson if they believed he “actually and reasonably believed” that the women consented to sex.

Mueller said no one would believe the actions described were consensual. He reminded them that a woman who had repeatedly said “no” to Masterson pulled at his hair and tried to get out from under it.

Another woman said Masterson helped her vomit by putting his finger down her throat, then told her it was gross and showered her because she vomited in her hair, Mueller said.

“Then he puts her to bed, turns her over and has his way with her,” Mueller said. “There is no reasonable belief (she) agreed. Of course not.”

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