Actor Danny Masterson to face retrial on rape charges after LA jury deadlocks in 1st case

ByLisa Bartley KABC logo
Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Danny Masterson to be retried for alleged rapes
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After a jury deadlocked in his first trial, Danny Masterson will face retrial for three rape charges in a Los Angeles courtroom starting in March.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Actor and celebrity Scientologist Danny Masterson will face a retrial on three counts of felony rape in a Los Angeles courtroom this spring.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has decided to retry Masterson, despite their first attempt ending with a "hopelessly deadlocked" jury, Deputy DA Reinhold Mueller announced Tuesday.

Masterson defense attorney Philip Cohen asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo to dismiss the charges "in the interest of justice" - a request that was denied.

The actor, best known for his role on "That '70s Show," declined to comment outside court.

Cohen argued in court that the case should be dismissed because the evidence and testimony did not come "close to passing what some call the smell test and what other people call proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

Judge declares mistrial in Danny Masterson rape case

Cohen said the hung jury in the first trial leaned toward not guilty on all three counts of rape. He says the jurors told him after the trial that none of them believed that a different presentation of the case by prosecutors could win a conviction in the case.

In response, Mueller pointed to the same post-trial conversation with the jury, but noted the foreperson said the jury "did not consider" some of the evidence and testimony presented, including the government's expert witness and the effect Scientology had on the behavior of the alleged victims.

Mueller called it troubling that "large portions of evidence were literally disregarded."

"Not giving these victims another chance to put all of our evidence before a jury that considers all evidence - that would be an injustice," Mueller told the judge.

Olmedo read through a list of factors she considered before making her decision to deny the request for a dismissal of the charges.

"The defense asserts that evidence and testimony will not be much different, and the conclusion will not likely be different," the judge said. "I find both conclusions speculative."

"The defense has not presented evidence to overcome any single factor," she said. "Recognizing that I have the discretion to dismiss, at this time, I decline to do so."

Masterson's retrial is set to begin on March 29.

Got a tip? Email ABC7 Investigative Producer Lisa.Bartley@abc.com.