May 19, 2021
Last June, the Los Angles District Attorney’s Office formally charged Actor Danny Masterson with three counts of rape. The preliminary hearing began Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, and Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo will determine whether or not probable cause exists to order a criminal trial. Masterson has pleaded not guilty to the allegations made by three women. The hearing is expected to last four days, and the first day of testimony included a graphic and emotional witness account.
Identified from the witness stand only as Jen B., the woman held back tears while recounting an evening 18 years ago at the “That 70’s Show” actor’s Hollywood Hills home. After consuming one vodka drink made by Masterson, the witness stated she felt “blurry.” About 20 minutes later, she stated she was too weak to resist him throwing her in a jacuzzi.
Shortly thereafter, she could barely sit up straight. She recounted a mutual friend, Luke Watson, attempting to help.
“I couldn’t walk or stand, so he put me on the tile on the ground,” Jen B. said as she started to cry. “I said, ‘Luke I can’t see,’ and he said, ‘Open your eyes,’ and I didn’t know my eyes were closed. I couldn’t open my eyelids. I felt really, really sick.” The Associated Press (AP) reported that, though emotional, the witness remained composed throughout her testimony.
According to the AP, Jen B. further testified that Masterson carried her upstairs where she vomited. Masterson put her in his shower a moment later. While in the shower she said she began losing consciousness, but would awake momentarily to find Masterson soaping her bare breasts. Jen B. said she tried to punch Masterson in the face but was too weak, the blow only lightly brushing against his chest.
From there, Jen B. testified that Masterson carried her to his bed and proceeded to rape her. She stated that, although only has flashes of memory from the incident exist, she made several attempts to get Masterson off of her – pulling his hair, putting a pillow in his face, pushing him away.
“When I came to he was on top of me and inside me. I think I was completely naked at that point. I can recall grabbing his hair to pull him off and I also recall taking a pillow and pushing it toward his face because I could not get him off me. I couldn’t breathe and I felt myself going unconscious again,” she said.
As she continued to struggle, Jen B. testified that Masterson removed a gun from his nightstand drawer and threatened her. “Don’t say a f***ing word. You’re not going to tell anybody,” Jen B. recounted to the criminal court.
After Masterson left the room, Jen B. stated that, though barely conscious, she crawled across the floor to a closet where she hid, curled up in the fetal position. She testified that when she woke up the next morning she was freezing. She attempted to talk to the friend, Luke Watson, but he did not want to listen. Instead, Watson allegedly said, “You are going straight to the president’s office.” The ‘president’ Watson was referring to is a high official at the Church of Scientology’s Celebrity Center in Hollywood.
Jen B. stated that she met Masterson through the Church of Scientology. At the time of the alleged rape in April 2003, she said she asked permission from Scientology officials to report the incident to police. Church officials, however, refused the request and, according to Jen B., threatened to use the information against her if she dared speak ill of Masterson, noting he was a “member in good standing.”
Jen B testified that Scientology officials threatened to “cut her off” and that she would be “shunned” by the church, her family, and friends, according to the Daily Mail. Per Scientology policy, Jen B. said she would be declared a “suppressive person” if a report against a member in good standing like Masterson was ever made. “I would lose my family and everyone I knew,” she said.
Holding back tears, she testified that, “I felt like I had been stabbed repeatedly in my vagina. I was bruised and I had a lot of pain in my anus. I kept checking for blood.” She also said she developed bruises on her neck, hips, thighs, and wrists. “I told my parents [also Scientologists] I had fallen down… I had never heard of anyone in Scientology to report rape,” Jen B. stated.
Masterson’s attorney, Thomas Mesereau, said Jen B. “mischaracterized” the Church of Scientology’s response. According to the AP, Mesereau has alleged that the prosecution and lead detective in the case have shown “religious bias in the most blatant form.” He has stated emphatically that he will prove Masterson’s innocence.
Masterson is charged with three separate counts of rape by force or fear over assaults women said occurred in 2001 and 2003. If convicted, Masterson could receive a prison sentence of up to 45 years.
Since the #Metoo movement began garnering headlines at the end of 2017, many survivors of sexual assault – including a number of high-profile women – have come forward to tell their stories and seek justice that is long overdue. As we’ve noted in previous blogs, sexual assault impacts survivors from all walks of life – whether religious or secular, famous, rich, poor, and everyone in between.
DLG’s Founder and President, Sam Dordulian, is proud to serve on the National Leadership Council for RAINN – the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. RAINN is one of the leading organizations advocating for sexual assault survivors. An important focus for all advocates is to help survivors come forward and report sex crimes when they’re ready, and on their own terms. While the #Metoo movement has led to a significant increase in sex crime reporting, an unfortunate fact remains – the vast majority of sexual predators will never be incarcerated for their crimes.
RAINN estimates that out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, 975 predators will walk free. Only 310 of 1,000 sex crimes are ever reported to police. Of those, only 50 ever lead to arrest, and only 28 will ever lead to a felony conviction. Only 25 out of every 1,000 sexual predators will ever be incarcerated. But that can change through education and finally eliminating any stigma related sexual assault.
Currently there is no criminal statute of limitations (SOL) on rape in California – which is why the Danny Masterson trial is able to proceed 18 years after the alleged crimes occurred. But a SOL on civil rape cases still remains, and that may significantly deter survivors from coming forward to report crimes. The Dordulian Law Group team encourages our elected officials to end the rape statute of limitations for civil cases (#EndRapeSOL) through swift legislation. Doing so will empower survivors to come forward when they’re ready. To learn more about the movement to end the rape statute of limitations, take a look at our recent blog.
Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.
Before founding DLG, Sam Dordulian worked as a sex crimes prosecutor. As a Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Dordulian handled some of the city’s most high-profile sex crime cases. Today, Dordulian has established the premier Sex Crimes Division in California by providing survivors with four-tiered representation and support.
DLG’s SAJE Team (Sexual Assault Justice Experts) was created to address the myriad needs of survivors during the legal process. Survivors need expert legal representation, but they also need additional resources and support to help make the process of filing a civil claim as stress-free as possible. Our SAJE Team offers a unique and all-encompassing support network that survivors can take advantage of 24/7. At DLG, we provide legal, investigative, psychological, and emotional resources that may benefit survivors:
When survivors reach out to DLG’s Sex Crimes Division with a sexual assault claim, one of the most important questions we ask is: Who do you have to support you through this process?
For many survivors, the answer is unfortunately “no one, really.” That’s why DLG has established its SAJE Team – to give survivors added advantages beyond mere legal expertise.
If you’d like to speak with a member of our SAJE Team or have questions about filing a sexual assault claim, contact us online or by phone at 818-322-4056. We’re here to listen and help in any way possible. When you’re ready to take that first (and often very difficult) step towards finally obtaining justice against a sexual predator, we’re here for you.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.