A jury found “That ’70s Show” star Danny Masterson guilty of two out of three counts of rape Wednesday in a Los Angeles retrial in which the Church of Scientology played a central role.
The jury of seven women and five men reached the verdict after deliberating for seven days spread over two weeks. They could not reach a verdict on the third count, that alleged Masterson raped a longtime girlfriend. They had voted 8-4 in favor of conviction.
Masterson was led from the courtroom in handcuffs. The 47-year-old actor faces up to 30 years in prison.
His wife, actor and model Bijou Phillips, wept as he was led away. Other family and friends sat stone-faced.
“I am experiencing a complex array of emotions – relief, exhaustion, strength, sadness – knowing that my abuser, Danny Masterson, will face accountability for his criminal behavior,” one of the women, whom Masterson was convicted of raping at his home in 2003, said in a statement.
Prosecutors, retrying Masterson after a deadlocked jury led to a mistrial in December, said he forcibly raped three women, including a longtime girlfriend, in his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003. They told jurors he drugged the women’s drinks so he could rape them. They said he used his prominence in the church — where all three women were also members at the time — to avoid consequences for decades.
Masterson did not testify, and his lawyers called no witnesses. The defense argued that the acts were consensual, and attempted to discredit the women’s stories by highlighting changes and inconsistencies over time, which they said showed signs of coordination between them.
“If you decide that a witness deliberately lied about something in this case,” defense attorney Philip Cohen told jurors, going through their instructions in his closing argument, “You should consider not believing anything that witness says.