Danny Masterson, why does he look so familiar? Oh, that's right, you've seen him on That '70s Show, but now you're probably going to see him around the news for another reason. Ever since that whole business with Harvey Weinstein, cases of sexual misconduct have been blown wide open left and right. And we're sorry to say, Masterson seems like he's no different than the others. Except, that is, because he's denying it. Masterson claims on clearing his name.
Get ready, because this is a wild ride full of terrible stuff, religion, lots of dates and stalled court cases. In very basic terms: four women accused Masterson of rape in the early 2000s. Masterson denies all of these allegations. At least three out of four of these women were Scientologists, Masterson's own religion. This made things extra complicated, if they weren't already complicated enough.
In 2004, one of Masterson's accusers filed a police report that stated she was raped in 2003. The case didn't move forward from there, after the Church of Scientology came on the scene. They submitted more than 50 affidavits that denied the woman's accusations of Masterson. The woman's report detailed how Masterson raped her while she was "passed out," and when she woke up, she struggled until he choked her until she passed out once more.
In the Church of Scientology, it turns out that the act of reporting another Scientologist to law enforcement is seen as a "suppressive act," and filing a report could cause their immediate expulsion from the church. Which doesn't sound like that awful of a thing when it comes to an institution with a law like that, but that's the way it works. According to two sources, the 2004 case file vanished, and it would need to be reconstructed completely.
In 2016, the LAPD started to interview the women who had accused Masterson of sexual misconduct. Because apparently, in LA, it takes two hours to commute to work, and about ten years to start working on a case.
Actually, it took a re-investigation into the case, after Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath started to air in 2016, a show that "gives a voice to victims of the Church of Scientology despite public attempts to discredit them."
Another woman who accused Masterson came forward when encouraged by Remini.
"I met with the LAPD. I met with Detective Reyes, and I told her these victims deserve to be heard,” Remini said. “I pointed out to her that there was a framed picture of a Scientologist on their wall, actor Michael Peña. Do you know what that says to a young Scientologist who comes here to seek justice? My experience with the LAPD has not been good. I asked her to do the right thing by these girls, and I told her that the world is watching."
This caused the original case from 2004, filed by a different woman than the one who came forward to the LAPD in 2016, to get re-opened.
Frustrated with the length of time that it was taking for the LAPD to make any ground with the case, the victim wrote a letter to LAPD Capt. William Hayes and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, saying that she thought that the LAPD was compromised by the Church of Scientology.
"They threatened me that if I ever told anyone or reported him to the police that I would be declared a ‘suppressive person’ and lose everything and everyone,” she said in her letter, referring to the Church. “Then they put me on a massive ethics program as punishment. My rapist was not punished at all. They didn’t even call him to talk about it. I ended up breaking up with him two months later.”
Another victim came forward when the details of the letter were released, and she filed an additional report as well, accusing Masterson of rape.
"Reyes then accused me of ruining the calls with my ultimatum [to the publicist]….So instead of Reyes thanking me for spending the past month constantly making heart-wrenching calls to truly horrible people, she blamed me for ruining this part of the case," continued the letter.
The victim who wrote the letter had been making phone calls to the Church of Scientology to attempt to get them to talk about the incident, but the phone calls were un-usable because of a mixup with the police phone lines. A phone number had been assigned that had been previously used in another case.
"You have a serial rapist on your hands with god knows how many victims and how many future victims, and the church of Scientology has known about it, threatened us, silenced us, and covered it all up. I am begging the LAPD for a fair and honest investigation. I am begging you all to do the right thing. I am begging for your help," she said in the letter. The letter and the report can be seen here, along with the explicit details of the case.
In an interview in Paper magazine, Masterson spoke on his view on Scientology:
"I’ve never been given a hard time my entire life about my belief system or my philosophy in life. Literally never once in 38 years,” he said. “If people start like asking questions in a way where I feel like they have an ulterior motive, I’m just like, ‘Dude, just go buy a f***ing book and read it and decide for your f***ing self what it means’….I work, I have a family and I’m a spiritual being who likes to understand why things happen in the world and want to learn more so that I can have them not affect me adversely. So if that’s weird, then, well, you can go f*** yourself." He had never been given a hard time about his belief system, apparently, until these allegations started coming out.
Masterson put out his own statement through his representative, Jenni Weinman.
"We are aware of the accuser’s 16-year-old allegations. It was only after she was in contact with Leah Remini that she made allegations of sexual assault by Mr. Masterson. The alleged incident occurred in the middle of their 6 year relationship, after which she continued to be his longtime girlfriend. Significantly, during their long relationship she made numerous inconsistent claims that she was previously raped by at least 3 other famous actors and musicians. When Danny ended the relationship she continued to pursue him, even making threats to beat up his current wife Bijou Phillips unless she left him. In fact, we are informed by the Church that the only demand the accuser made of the Church after Danny broke up with her was asking for their help to intervene so the breakup would not be permanent."
What Weinman failed to release in her statement was that she herself was a witness of the alleged incident, when the original victim in the 2004 case claims she was raped. "As more people come forward and are courageous, it’s going to force law enforcement to do its job. Mike Rinder and I will make it our business to follow this story very closely and make it known publicly," said Remini about these kinds of cases, also mentioning one of her co-stars.
The Church of Scientology released a statement in response to the claims that have been made against Masterson. "The Church adamantly denies that it ever ignores any allegations of criminal behavior, especially at the expense of alleged victims. What is being stated is utterly untrue. This has nothing to do with religion. This story is being manipulated to push a bigoted agenda. The Church follows all laws and cooperates with law enforcement. Any statement or implication to the contrary is false."
Masterson also stars in the Netflix original The Ranch, but after allegations made against him, he is being written out of the show. “I am obviously very disappointed in Netflix’s decision to write my character off of The Ranch,” said Masterson. “From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. In this country, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
It had taken Netlix some time to fire Masterson after hearing about reported allegations.
"I was sick when I read Netflix’s statement on continuing with The Ranch and continuing their working relationship with a man who has violently raped and abused so many women. Four months after the story broke, and the LAPD confirmed a criminal investigation, Netflix ordered another season of The Ranch,” said one of the victims. “For me, what Netflix has done, feels like a continuation of how the Church of Scientology made me feel when I reported my rape to them, as well as how Danny Masterson made me feel when I would beg him for an apology, an explanation, anything. I was made to feel unimportant. I was made to feel like I didn’t matter."