The judge in the Danny Masterson rape trial declared a hung jury on Wednesday, after the jurors said they could not reach a verdict on any of the charges.
In a note to Judge Charlaine Olmedo, the jurors said that “we are not even close to coming to a unanimous decision on any count, and are convinced this will not change.”
Masterson, the former star of “That ’70s Show,” was charged with three counts of forcible rape relating to incidents involving three women from 2001 to 2003. The charges carried a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.
The jury foreman informed the judge that they had taken seven votes over the last two days, and remained deadlocked on each charge. The split was two for guilty and 10 for not guilty on Count 1; four for guilty and eight for not guilty on Count 2; and five for guilty and seven for not guilty on Count 3.
Olmedo declared a mistrial and set a retrial date of March 27.
Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller indicated outside court that no decision has been made on whether to retry the case.
“It’s a conversation we have to have with our office,” Mueller said. “We’re going to have a conversation with our witnesses and our victims.”
Masterson declined to comment outside court. Philip Cohen, his defense lawyer, said that Masterson was feeling “a lot of relief,” though Cohen acknowledged there is a risk he could be tried again.
“Hopefully what the jury indicated in this case will be looked at by the District Attorney’s office,” Cohen said. “To hear 10 for not guilty, eight for not guilty, seven for not guilty, speaks volumes.”
Cohen said he spoke with the jurors after the mistrial was declared, and that the conversation was “incredibly helpful and illuminating.” He did not share details of what was discussed.
“Credibility truly is everything in this case,” Cohen said. “And I think the vote count speaks to that.”
Two of the accusers issued a statement, through their lawyers, expressing disappointment in the outcome.
“We are obviously disappointed that, at least for the time being, Daniel Masterson has evaded criminal accountability for his deplorable acts,” said the two women, identified as Jane Doe #2 and Jane Doe #3. They were joined in the statement by another woman, whose claims were not part of the trial, and by the husband of Jane Doe #3. They said they intend to continue the fight.
“However, we are collectively resolved to continue our fight for justice, including in civil court, where we have alleged that Mr. Masterson, along with the Church of Scientology, its leader David Miscavige, and others conspired to systematically stalk, harass, and intimidate us when we sought to shed light on Mr. Masterson’s actions,” they said. “This legal fight is far from over, and it is critical that we reckon with Scientology’s alleged role in covering up reports of abuse and threatening victims.”
In a separate statement, the Los Angeles County D.A.’s office also said it was “disappointed,” though it thanked the jury for its service.
“We also want to give our heartfelt appreciation to the victims for bravely stepping forward and recounting their harrowing experiences,” the office said. “We also are thankful for the hard work of the prosecution team and we will now consider our next steps as it relates to prosecuting this case.”
The jury began deliberating after closing arguments on Nov. 15. On Nov. 18, the jurors informed Olmedo that they were deadlocked on all three counts. Olmedo instructed them to return after the Thanksgiving holiday and keep deliberating.
Two jurors were excused on Monday after testing positive for COVID-19, and were replaced with alternates. The jury was instructed to begin deliberations all over again. The new panel asked for readback of testimony from one of the accusers late on Tuesday. After hearing that testimony on Wednesday, they returned to the jury room.
Masterson was accused of raping a longtime girlfriend in November 2001; a friend of his assistant’s in April 2003; and a fellow actor in late 2003. A fourth woman also testified that Masterson raped her on two occasions in 1996, though her allegations were not charged and were used only to support the other three accusations.
The prosecution alleged that Masterson felt a sense of entitlement because of his acting success and his high status within the Church of Scientology. The three accusers, all former Scientologists, have all said that they were discouraged from thinking of the assaults as “rape,” and two have alleged that the church threatened them with excommunication if they went to the police.
The women filed a civil suit in 2019 alleging that they have been stalked and harassed by the church since coming forward to the police in 2016. The church has denied those allegations.
Masterson did not testify at the month-long trial. Cohen argued that the women’s accounts were riddled with “contradictions and fabrications.” He also alleged that the accusers used Scientology as an excuse to explain away inconsistencies in their statements.