By COURT TV Staff and CRYSTAL BONVILLIAN
LOS ANGELES (Court TV) — Three of the women who accused “That ’70s Show” star Danny Masterson of rape will be allowed to speak at his sentencing on Thursday.
Masterson, 47, was found guilty of two counts of forcible rape during his retrial in May. Jurors were unable to agree on a similar charge involving the third woman, a former longtime girlfriend of Masterson.
The actor, who left the court in handcuffs after the guilty verdict, is facing 30 years to life in prison.
At an August court hearing, Los Angeles County prosecutors argued that three more alleged Masterson victims should be allowed to give victim impact statements at the Sept. 7 sentencing because of the “great societal interest” their words could have.
Two of the three women were previously allowed to testify in court under California law, which allows testimony about a defendant’s “past sexual misconduct, alleged and otherwise, when they are currently on trial for a sex crime.” Masterson has never been charged with assaulting those women.
All his alleged victims told similar stories, saying Masterson gave them drinks that made them feel sick and lose consciousness. Some of the victims said they recalled snippets of the subsequent sexual assaults, while others said they awakened to find they had been raped.
The three incidents for which Masterson was tried took place between 2001 and 2003 at his Hollywood Hills home.
Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller indicated that allowing all six women to speak at Masterson’s sentencing would “not only be a healing” for them but could “resonate with other victims of sexual assault that are out there.”
Masterson’s defense attorneys argued, however, that Mueller’s reasoning was “inappropriate” and that only the two women whom their client was found guilty of raping should be allowed to speak.
Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo said the court does have some discretion in who it allows to speak out as victims — but that does not necessarily include all sex assault survivors.
“I don’t believe sentencing is the appropriate forum for victims of certain crime to speak out on societal ills,” Olmedo said.
The judge tentatively ruled that she would allow Masterson’s former girlfriend, previously identified in court as Chrissie B., to speak during sentencing, but granted the defense the opportunity to argue their opposition at a pre-sentencing hearing on Aug. 21.
Olmeda is also expected to hear arguments at that time on whether the charge involving Chrissie B. should be dismissed with or without prejudice. If it is dismissed without prejudice, that would allow prosecutors to retry Masterson on that rape charge, should they choose to.
Chrissie B. and the two women Masterson was convicted of raping met the actor through the Church of Scientology. All three have said they reported the assaults to church officials, who they accuse of protecting Masterson and discouraging them from reporting the crimes to the police.
Church officials have denied the allegations, as has Masterson.