US actor Danny Masterson sentenced to 30 years for rape

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A Los Angeles court was told on Thursday that the TV star ‘relishes’ hurting women

Danny Masterson, the American actor best known for playing the character Steven Hyde on the long-running US sitcom ‘That 70s Show’, was imprisoned on Thursday for 30 years to life following his conviction in May for the rape of two women in his Los Angeles home 20 years ago.

Los Angeles superior court Judge Charlaine Olmedo issued Masterson, 47, with two terms of 15 years to be served consecutively. Masterson’s lawyers failed in a bid to hold a new trial, as well as to have the two convictions run concurrently.

“Mr. Masterson, you are not the victim here,” Judge Olmedo said in court after hearing emotional statements from the women at the center of the case. “Your actions 20 years ago took away another person’s choice and voice. Your actions 20 years ago today were criminal, and that’s why you are here.”

In May, a jury found Masterson guilty of two counts of rape following seven days of deliberation. A verdict could not be reached on a third count which alleged that Masterson had also raped a former girlfriend.

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Actor Danny Masterson is arraigned on rape charges at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on September 18, 2020 in Los Angeles, California US sitcom star guilty of rape

During the trial, the two victims testified that they were given drinks by Masterson at his Hollywood-area home in 2003, after which they passed out or became woozy before he violently sexually assaulted them. The attacks took place at the height of his fame on the Fox sitcom ‘That 70s Show’, in which Masterson was a central character between 1998 and 2006.

“You relish in hurting women,” one of the women said, addressing Masterson in court on Thursday as part of a victim impact statement. “It is your addiction. It is without question your favorite thing to do.”

Throughout the trial, prosecutors had argued that Masterson had used his status as a prominent member of the Church of Scientology to avoid accountability for his actions. The three women – who were all members of the church at the time – each testified in court that they had been discouraged from notifying police by figures in the church.

In a statement, the Church of Scientology said it had “no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of anyone – Scientologists or not – to law enforcement.”

Hailing the verdict, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon said that “justice was finally served,” and added that his top priority was to “ensure that Los Angeles will no longer be a hunting ground for Hollywood elites who feel entitled to prey on women.”

Masterson maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings and his attorneys have indicated that they plan to appeal the sentence.

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