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Danny Masterson: That 70s Show star ‘raped women and hid behind Church of Scientology’, court told

Danny Masterson and his wife Bijou Phillips arrive at court in Los Angeles (AP)
Danny Masterson and his wife Bijou Phillips arrive at court in Los Angeles (AP)

That 70s Show star Danny Masterson drugged women and raped them in his Los Angeles home under the protection of the Church of Scientology, a jury heard.

Jurors in the actor’s rape retrial are expected to begin deliberations on Wednesday after lawyers wrap up closing arguments.

Late last year, a jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case against Masterson involving rape allegations by three women, and Los Angeles Judge Charlaine Olmedo declared a mistrial.

On Tuesday prosecutors said that Masterson drugged the women between 2001 and 2003 in order to assault them, then relied on his status as a prominent member in the Church of Scientology to avoid consequences for years.

“You don’t want to have sex? You don’t have a choice,” Deputy District Attorney Ariel Anson told the jury of seven men and five women.

“The defendant makes that choice for these victims. And he does it over and over and over again.”

Masterson, 47, has pleaded not guilty to raping three women.

Danny Masterson (Rich Fury/Invision/AP)
Danny Masterson (Rich Fury/Invision/AP)

His attorney Philip Cohen told jurors during his closing arguments on Tuesday that the women’s years-old stories were so full of inconsistencies that there was more than enough reasonable doubt for jurors to acquit Masterson.

Mr Cohen emphasized the lack of any physical evidence of drugging, with the investigation that led to Masterson’s arrest coming some 15 years after the alleged rapes.

“Miss Anson presented a case as if she was arguing a drugging case,” Mr Cohen said. “Maybe it’s because there is no evidence of force or violence.”

Ms Anson’s colleague, Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller, will finish the prosecution’s rebuttal that he began late on Tuesday, and the jury will deliberate.

Scientology played a large role during the trial. Masterson is a member, and all three women are former members.

Prosecutors said the institution protected him and helped convince the women that they were not raped and could not go to authorities to report a fellow Scientologist in good standing. The church denied having any such policy.

“Why have we heard so much about Scientology?” Mr Cohen said in his closing. “Could it be because there are problems with the government’s case?”

Masterson could get more than 40 years in prison if convicted on all three counts.