Defense: Masterson rape case riddled with contradictions

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The rape allegations against actor Danny Masterson were so riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies that prosecutors in his case implicated the Church of Scientology to help patch the loopholes in his case, a defense attorney said Monday. Tuesday in closing arguments.

“When there are inconsistencies and inconsistencies, blame others,” said attorney Phillip Cohen. “We listened to Scientology so often that it really became the go-to excuse.”

The three accusers and Masterson were members of the church at the time of the allegations two decades ago, when the actor was at the height of his fame on the sitcom “That ’70s Show” and Scientology loomed large. at trial in Upper Los Angeles. Court.

“There are no charges against Scientology, but they cannot be avoided,” Assistant District Attorney Reinhold Mueller said in his rebuttal argument.

Mueller said the women delayed reporting the allegations because church rules prevented them from going to law enforcement and if they told anyone else what happened, they would be ostracized.

While Masterson is still a member of the church, the three women are not. They were afraid to testify because they had been subjected to harassment, intimidation and bullying after reporting the crimes, Mueller said.

If the women’s statements were consistent, it would have indicated they were scripted, Mueller said. She said inconsistencies often arise when sexual assault victims have to relive their ordeals when they first speak to police.

“They have to reach inside themselves and get out that pain and trauma that they’ve had buried inside of them,” Mueller said. “You might find some inconsistencies there.”

Masterson, dressed in a brown tweed suit, looked at the jury from the defense table without visible reaction. His wife, actress and model Bijou Phillips, sat behind him at the front of the gallery, along with several of his family and friends.

Jurors were sent to deliberate briefly at the end of the day before adjourning. The panel of seven women and five men returns to court on Wednesday morning.

Masterson, 46, faces three counts of forcible rape. If convicted, he could receive a sentence of up to 45 years in state prison.

The women testified that Masterson raped them at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003. The defense said the acts were consensual.

The testimony of the women, all known as Jane Does 1-3, was graphic and emotional. A woman, a friend of Masterson’s personal assistant, said she threw up and passed out after he gave her a drink. She said she came to and found Masterson having rough and painful sex with her.

A former girlfriend of Masterson’s said she woke up to find him having sex with her when she hadn’t consented.

Masterson did not testify and her attorney did not present defense evidence, instead focusing on how the women’s stories had changed over time.

“The key to this case is not when it was reported,” Cohen said. “It is what they said when they reported it. What they said after they reported it. And what they said at the trial.

He said prosecutors’ description of Masterson as an “abusive and terrifying monster on command” was undermined by testimony from his ex-girlfriend, who said she willingly had sex with him after the alleged rapes.

“I get the theme: It paints Danny as a monster. But when you look at the actual testimony, he tells us something different,” Cohen said. “This is the problem when you start to stray from the truth.”

Mueller told jurors to stick to the evidence and not be swayed by what he called defense speculation.

He mocked a statement Cohen made when he told jurors that they could acquit Masterson if they thought he “really and reasonably believed” that the women had consented to sex.

Mueller said no one would believe the acts described were consensual. He reminded them that a woman repeatedly told Masterson “no,” pulled his hair and tried to get out from under him.

Another woman said Masterson helped her vomit by sticking his finger down her throat, then told her she was disgusting and made her shower because she had vomit in her hair, Mueller said.

“Then he lays her down on the bed, turns her over and gets away with it,” Mueller said. “There is no reasonable belief that (she) consented. Absolutely not.”

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