Danny Masterson, the actor most commonly recognised for his role on the popular series That ’70s Show, appeared in court to deny rape charges in relation to alleged incidents that took place in the early 2000s.
The allegations have been made by three women who, at the time, were all in their 20s. The incidents are said to have taken place between 2001 and 2003. Masterson, the 44-year-old actor, has publicly denied the charges. In a counter-claim, Masterson has suggested that his membership of the Church of Scientology was a factor the prosecution.
Now, while appearing in court his lawyer, Tom Mesereau, dismissed the charges against him as “politically motivated.” According to the BBC, the actor did not enter a plea and his lawyer spoke on his behalf. “There have been repeated attempts to politicise this case,” said Mr Mesereau, previosuly. The lawyer also defended Michael Jackson against sexual misconduct allegations in a previous case. “He is absolutely not guilty and we’re going to prove it,” he added.
As the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced the charges and issued an arrest warrant, it has been speculated that Masterson could face a possible maximum sentence of 45 years to life in prison if found guilty.
Masterson’s attorney, Tom Merseau, said in a statement: “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.”
The statement continued: “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.”
The charges arrive after the accusations first emerged in 2017. Three years ago Netflix took the decision to write the actor out of their comedy series The Ranch when the alleged incidents came to light. Upon that decision, Masterson reacted angrily: “I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. In this country, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” he commented at the time.
“However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused.”
Masterson has been married the actor Bijou Phillips since 2011 and the two remain together amid the claims.