A Los Angeles judge ruled on Monday that the rape case against actor Danny Masterson can go forward, rejecting a defense argument that the allegations are too old to be prosecuted.
Masterson, 44, is accused of raping three women at his home between 2001 and 2003. The former “That ’70s Show” actor could face 45 years to life in prison if convicted on all charges.
He remains free on $3.3 million bail, and did not attend Monday’s hearing. He has yet to enter a plea in the case. His arraignment was rescheduled to Nov. 2.
Masterson’s attorneys, Thomas Mesereau and Sharon Appelbaum, argued that the case should be thrown out because the alleged rapes occurred outside the statute of limitations.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office charged Masterson under the state’s “one strike” sex offense law, which provides for potential life sentences for certain sex offenses, including allegations involving multiple victims. Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller argued that the Legislature clearly intended that such crimes would not have a statute of limitations.
Appelbaum argued that such an interpretation would allow prosecutors “to sit back and wait to file these cases 20 years down the road.”
Judge Eleanor Hunter sided with the prosecution, holding that there is no statute of limitations for one-strike offenses.
Masterson was charged in June with three counts of forcible rape, following and investigation that lasted more than three years.
He has adamantly denied the charges. Mesereau said in a statement after the charges were filed that the truth will come out once the accusers testify.
The three accusers sued Masterson and the Church of Scientology in August 2019, alleging they had been stalked and intimidated after going to the police.
One of the accusers, Chrissie Carnell Bixler, has alleged that Masterson repeatedly sexually assaulted her while they were dating in late 2001 and early 2002. On one occasion, she alleges that he drugged her and anally raped her.
The other two women have not been identified in the criminal or civil cases. One of them has accused Masterson of raping her in April 2003. She alleged that Masterson drugged her drink, and then carried her upstairs to his bedroom where she passed out. According to the suit, she awoke to find Masterson raping her. She also alleged that when she tried to fight back, he picked up a gun and pointed it at her and told her to be quiet.
The third woman also alleged in the lawsuit that Masterson drugged her drink, and then sexually assaulted her in his shower and in his bedroom.
Masterson was dropped from his Netflix series, “The Ranch,” in December 2017.