“That ’70s Show” star Danny Masterson, 46, is now on trial for rape, and Scientology is in the spotlight.
Masterson is facing three charges of forcible rape and a potential sentence of 45 years to life. The actor is a longtime member of the church, and all three of his accusers were also members at the time of the alleged assaults.
At a pretrial hearing last week, LA County Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo reportedly said about the proceedings, “This is not going to become a trial on Scientology.”
However, with Masterson and the alleged victims all having ties to the church, it’s impossible to avoid. Judge Olmedo has indicated that she will allow some testimony about the religious organization’s practices, including if it played a role in why the accusers delayed going to the police.
Previously, one of the accusers, who is referenced as Jen B., testified that she was afraid to go to the police because the church could label her a “suppressive person.”
“My parents would have to disown me,” she said at a preliminary hearing in May 2021. “My friends, everyone I knew would disown me. I couldn’t speak to them.”
“If you have a legal situation, you may not handle it externally from the church,” N. Trout, another accuser, testified at that same hearing. “You’ll be excommunicated.”
Trout also previously said that everyone within the church, which is famously home to “Top Gun: Maverick” actor Tom Cruise, knows that “people who are of a celebrity status . . . are to be protected in a certain way.”
Another accuser testified that a church lawyer came to her house and threatened to expel her from the congregation if she told police how Masterson allegedly raped her at his Hollywood mansion in 2004.
Previously, the Church of Scientology made a bid to prevent Masterson’s accusers from suing the religious organization, which the Supreme Court denied.
Olmedo has said that the criminal case will likely take less than four weeks to come to a verdict.