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Rape allegations against '70s Show' actor Masterson released

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — On Tuesday, a prosecutor disclosed three women’s allegations of rape against “The Show of the ’70s” actor Danny Masterson, which included some of the same disturbing elements as twenty years ago.

Assistant District Attorney Reinhold Mueller said in his keynote speech in Masterson’s case that the two women were stunned or fainted after a few drinks and were thrown into the hot tub. One of them said he regained consciousness only to find that he dragged her to his bed, where he had sex with her. A third woman, an ex-girlfriend, said she woke up and found him on top of her.

Masterson’s lawyer said the reason the allegations have so much in common is because alleged victims violated a detective’s warning not to talk to each other, “cross-pollinating” their accounts and undermining their credibility.

“You’re going to pollute this case if you talk to each other,” said Phillip Cohen, defense attorney at the Los Angeles Supreme Court. “Talking to each other and to other witnesses is fatal to a case.”

Masterson, 46, pleaded not guilty to being raped three times between 2001 and 2003 at her Hollywood home, which functioned as a social hub at the height of her fame.

While Cohen urged jurors not to consider Masterson’s affiliation with the Church of Scientology and his involvement in the case, Mueller said it helps explain why women, former members of the church, waited so long to report the events.

Two alleged victims first went to the church to report what had happened to them and were told that it was not rape and that reporting it to the authorities or telling others would result in ostracism by their closest friends and even family members.

“You actually become an enemy of the church,” Mueller said. “You lose everything.”

Cohen said the case had nothing to do with religion and had repeatedly objected when it came to the fore.

Supreme Court Justice Charlaine F. Olmedo sternly reminded lawyers that Scientology will not dominate the hearing.

The witness list for the trial is filled with members and former members of the church who have a strong presence in Los Angeles and whose members include many famous personalities. Also on the list is former member Lisa Marie Presley, the ex-wife of Michael Jackson, daughter of Elvis Presley and a friend of one of the alleged victims.

One of the women was Masterson’s longtime girlfriend. Another was best friends with her personal assistant, and a third, an actress, was a recent acquaintance.

His assistant’s friend filed a complaint with the police, dissatisfied with the way the Scientology ethics committee handled his complaint. No charges were brought at that time.

In 2016, he hooked up with his ex-girlfriend, one of the accusers, and shared stories. Each filed a police report that year. Masterson’s ex-girlfriend said she did it after she told her story to her husband, who helped her realize she had been raped. The third woman went to the police in 2017.

Cohen said the heart of the defense is a “reel of inconsistency” between what the women initially said and how their accounts have changed over time.

A woman who said she was raped after drinking the fruity red vodka drink Masterson had given her told police that she had consensual sex with him a few months ago under similar circumstances. She says she doesn’t accept it now. Masterson pleads not guilty to these allegations.

Another alleged victim went to her home after inviting Masterson. Mueller said she set ground rules that she wouldn’t have sex with him and told him “don’t have sex.” He described Masterson’s alleged attack as so powerful that he vomited into the woman’s mouth and was “limp like a rag doll.”

However, Cohen claimed that the woman had sat in bed with Masterson for hours listening to music and thought we would “probably start dating” after he left. He said he was horrified when Masterson didn’t call or text him.

His ex-girlfriend said she had two more consensual sex with him after breaking up with Masterson.

Masterson could face up to 45 years in prison if found guilty.

The Associated Press generally does not provide the names of people who say they have been victims of sexual abuse unless made public.

Masterson was one of the first Hollywood figures to be accused in the #MeToo era. His case is one of several high-profile sexual assault cases to be prosecuted on the fifth anniversary of the reporting of charges against Hollywood giant Harvey Weinstein, who turned the #MeToo movement into an international showdown.

Weinstein’s second rape and sexual assault case—he’s already convicted in New York—takes place simultaneously, just down the hall from Masterson. In New York, civil lawsuits have begun for actor Kevin Spacey and screenwriter and director Paul Haggis, who have both been sexually assaulted.

Haggis himself is an opponent of Scientology, and the judge in this case allows him to argue that the church was behind the charges against him.

Masterson starred as Steven Hyde on Fox’s “That ’70s Show” starring Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Topher Grace from 1998 to 2006, and will soon remake on Netflix with “That ’90s Show.” .

Masterson had reunited with Kutcher in the Netflix comedy “The Ranch,” but was removed from the show in December 2017 when an LAPD investigation emerged.

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton

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