In Danny Masterson's trial, prosecutors described how the women who claim they were violently raped by the That '70s Show actor feared they would be ostracized from the institution if they spoke out.
The Los Angeles County deputy district attorney gave an overview of each of the three alleged sexual assaults from the early 2000s that Masterson, a prominent Scientologist, is charged with. While detailing the women's relationships with the actor and the steps they took to handle the situation, Mueller explained several different rules and terms used by the church to show why they didn't turn to law enforcement for so long.
Two of the women were afraid of being labeled an enemy of the church. One of the women was dating and living with Masterson at the time of the alleged assault and prosecutors said that she owed him sex because he was taking care of her.
She believed them according to Muller. She was a member of the Scientologists. She thought she might have pulled it in.
Masterson, who played Steven Hyde on That '70s Show, is accused of raping three women at his Hollywood Hills home. The women say that Masterson raped them after giving them alcohol and taking them to his bedroom when they became confused.
Masterson claims that he only had sex with the women. He could face up to 45 years to life in prison if found guilty.
Masterson rested his hands on his lap while sitting next to his attorneys at the defense table. He shook his head and raised his eyebrows when the deputy district attorney described the incidents.
Philip Cohen said in his opening statement that there were inconsistencies in the women's testimony. Cohen said that the similarities in the women's stories were due to them discussing the incidents with each other and that police warned them not to do that.
Cohen said that the talking between the women and the men became so important to the story.
He made it clear to the jury that the church and its practices are not charged in this case.
Cohen said that the case was about three women who were going to tell you about three nights in the late 17th and early 18th century.
Cohen said that everything else is an elephant in the room. He showed jurors a slide with terms like "bad boyfriend" and "Scientology" on it.
The church and its practices are expected to play a significant role in the trial. Three former Scientologists testified about how church officials tried to shield Masterson from accountability during a preliminary hearing.
One woman testified that she went to the church's Celebrity Centre in Hollywood to report a sexual assault but was warned against using the word "rape" and told that she could be excommunicated from the church.
A woman testified that a church official told her to write a statement after she was raped by Masterson.
The three women are part of a civil suit that accuses the church of harassing and stalking them after they reported Masterson. Their complaint states that they were surveilled, their communications monitored, their pets killed, and their cars broken into.
The church has denied the women's claims of being physically and financially abusive.
The women have been accused of lying by Masterson and his representatives. His attorneys wanted to exclude any mention of the religion during the trial. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo ruled in a hearing earlier this month that the alleged victims could discuss how they were prevented from talking to police because of their beliefs about the church. Olmedo said that the women could only talk about the harassment they faced after reporting the incidents and not about the dog that was allegedly killed.
Olmedo said the prosecutor was pushing the boundaries as he began questioning one of the women. Olmedo stopped the prosecutor's questioning because he wanted the jury to only consider the testimony of witnesses who were telling the truth and not the testimony of people who were lying.
J.B., who grew up in a Scientologist family, said that she had been shown a policy to not fraternize with the enemy.
During an afternoon recess, Olmedo admonished the attorneys to abide by the rulings she issued earlier this month, saying that Cohen didn't have to object every time the church was questioned.
The judge said that the trial wouldn't be filled with Scientologists. I will start excusing the jury whenever I need to admonish one side or the other if you don't follow my ruling.
Cohen requested a mis trial after the jurors were dismissed for the day.
He said that the jury was told from the beginning that Masterson was a Scientologist. The jury was told that Masterson and his religion don't see the same people.
Olmedo agreed that she was concerned about the prosecution's particular line of questioning, but she disagreed that the characterization was unique to Scientologists. Cohen's motion for a mis trial was denied by the judge immediately.
Masterson was dropped from The Ranch after it was reported that police in Los Angeles were looking into the allegations. Masterson was charged in June 2020. He was freed after posting a $3.3 million bail and has been out of jail ever since.
The trial could feature testimony from other celebrities with ties to the Scientologists. Last week, reporters were given a potential witness list that included Lisa Marie Presley, Masterson's former assistant and wife of Michael Pea.
During her testimony on Tuesday, J.B. talked about her relationships with two people she considered part of her core group of friends.
She testified that her relationship with Masterson was friendly and that she would sometimes go to his house with him to take care of him.
J.B. was asked about a September 2002 incident that had a negative impact on her relationship with Shaffer. Masterson is accused of sexually assault J.B. in his home after the two were out drinking together. In this case, the incident is not charged.
J.B. cried as she remembered the pain and shock she felt when Masterson performed anal sex on her without her consent.
She said that she pulled from the pain because it hurt so badly. I put my hand on the sheet to get away from it. I had no idea what it was.
J.B. testified that she was happy as she and Masterson kissed. He was her friend's boss and more of a brother figure in her life, she said.
J.B. said it was sometimes like a mean brother if he drank. Masterson shook his head across the courtroom.
She is expected to finish testifying Wednesday morning.