Danny Masterson has been charged with raping three women, according to Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey. Masterson, an actor, is best known for his role as Steven Hyde in That ’70s Show and Jameson “Rooster” Bennett in The Ranch. He’s also known for his longtime friendship with fellow actor Ashton Kutcher, who starred with him in both shows.
Masterson, 44, has been charged with three counts of rape by force or fear that police say happened between 2001 and 2003. If convicted of all three counts, he faces 45 years to life in prison. He was being held on $3.3 million bail but has been released, according to E! Online.
The press release from Lacey’s office reads in part:
The defendant is accused of raping a 23-year-old woman between January and December 2001, according to the complaint. In April 2003, Masterson allegedly raped a 28-year-old woman and sometime between October and December of that year he is accused of raping a 23-year-old woman who he had invited to his Hollywood Hills home. Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller of the Sex Crimes Division, who is prosecuting the case, said all of the alleged crimes occurred at the defendant’s home.
Mr. Masterson is innocent, and we’re confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify. Obviously, Mr. Masterson and his wife are in complete shock considering these nearly 20-year allegations are suddenly resulting in charges being filed, but they and their family are comforted knowing that ultimately the truth will come out. The people who know Mr. Masterson know his character and know the allegations to be false.
Masterson has been married to wife Bijou Phillips since 2011. They have one daughter together.
Here’s what you need to know:
5 Women Have Accused Masterson of Rape Over the Years; the Los Angeles DA Declined to Pursue Two of the Cases
Over the years, five women have accused Masterson of rape. Two women, Bobette Riales and Chrissie Bixler, spoke publicly about their accusations, and three others have kept their identities anonymous, according to Yashar Ali for the Huffington Post.
In the press statement announcing the charges brought against Masterson, the Los Angeles DA confirmed that it had looked into five cases and decided to bring charges against Masterson for three of them, due to insufficient evidence for one case and an expired statute of limitations in another.
Bixler was one of three women to accuse Masterson of rape in the early 2000s. Riales publicly accused Masterson of rape in 2017. She was the fifth woman to do so. She tweeted, “I stayed quiet long enough. Danny Masterson repeatedly raped me. All I seek is justice and to prevent this from ever happening to anyone else as it has for some time. My truth will be heard. I applaud her strength as well. @ChrissieBixler #metoo #sisters.”
Bixler replied to Riales’ tweet, “You are amazing. I’m so proud of you. He will never do this to another human being ever again. He’s a thief in the night, but he overlooked some incredibly valuable things we still possess. Our voice.”
Masterson Is a Longtime Member of the Church of Scientology; 4 of the Women Who Accused Masterson of Rape Were Members, Too
According to the Huffington Post, three of the women who accused Masterson of rape were members of the Church of Scientology and reported incidents to the Church years ago. One of Masterson’s accusers filed a police report in 2004 saying Masterson raped her in 2003, the publication reported, but the Church intervened with the investigation by offering 50 affidavits from members who denied the accuser’s account of events.
In 2019, four of Masterson’s accusers sued him and the Church of Scientology for what they claimed was a sexual assault cover-up. Per a report on the lawsuit by Variety, the women claimed they were stalked by members of the Church in retaliation for going to the police with their stories in the early 2000s. Bixler was one of these plaintiffs and said she was chased in a car by two people filming her and also experienced online harassment.
Riales was also a plaintiff and said she was stalked and photographed, even when she was on vacation. In response, a lawyer for the Church of Scientology called the claims “ludicrous and a sham.”
Netflix Fired Masterson From ‘The Ranch’ Amid Rape Allegations in 2017
In December 2017, Netflix fired Masterson from his recurring role on The Ranch amid ongoing rape allegations at the time. The streaming service provided the following statement, via The New York Times: “As a result of ongoing discussions, Netflix and the producers have written Danny Masterson out of ‘The Ranch.’ Yesterday was his last day on the show, and production will resume in early 2018 without him.”
In a statement following the news that he was fired, Masterson vehemently denied the allegations made against him. He said, “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. However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused.”
Kutcher did not provide a statement on Masterson’s firing. He has been criticized over the years for his silence on the allegations against Masterson and has yet to speak publicly on the matter.