Judge In Danny Masterson Rape Trial Not Happy About Opening Statements, And Scientology Is Involved

Danny Masterson on The Ranch
(Image credit: Netflix)

Several years after being accused of rape by multiple women, Danny Masterson is now on trial. All the while, the Church of Scientology is engaged in a case that’s similar to the actor’s. The polarizing religious group has been a significant factor in the That ‘70s Show star’s case, particularly since he himself is a scientologist and each of his alleged victims also were at some point as well. And at present, it would seem that these scientology connections are major reasons why the presiding judge was unhappy with the opening statements in the trial. 

Said remarks were made in a Los Angeles courtroom on Tuesday. A woman known solely as “Jane Doe 1” was the first witness to testify and made several allegations against the Church of Scientology. One of those claims was that church officials allegedly discourage members from “fraternizing with the enemy.” According to Variety, she later proceeded to break down the beliefs of the church. Judge Charlaine Olmedo expressed displeasure with the comments during a break: 

I understand these witnesses’ lives may have been completely inundated with Scientology. This trial is not going to be inundated with Scientology.

In other words, Judge Olmedo doesn’t want the widely-discussed religion to become the focus of the case. The trade goes on to say that Reinhold Mueller, the lead prosecutor, also referenced the church and its purported methods in his own statement. He reportedly did so in order to explain why two of the alleged victims didn’t take their allegations to the police sooner. Nevertheless, Olmedo reportedly believed that both sides overstepped boundaries when it came to their opening statements. 

Three women accused Danny Masterson of sexual assault in 2017, with each alleging that their experiences with the actor took place in the early 2000s. It was during the summer of 2020, after an investigation, that Masterson was formally charged with raping multiple women. Back in 2019, four women also sued the actor and the Church of Scientology on the grounds of purported intimidation and stalking due to going public with sexual assault allegations against Masterson. In May 2021, a preliminary hearing was held, during which a woman testified about an encounter with Masterson. That same year, he pleaded not guilty to the accusations. 

Ahead of this recent trial, the actor’s team had attempted to halt the upcoming trial in a few ways. One such tactic failed twice and was also used by the Church of Scientology. After opening statements were made by the prosecution this week, the former Ranch star’s lawyer requested a mistrial, arguing that the testimony could add bias to the case. Said request was ultimately denied.

The trial is reportedly set to proceed on a five-day-a-week schedule and will reportedly conclude on November 19, per Deadline. A number of witnesses are set to be heard, including former scientologist Lisa Marie Presley. Only time will tell just how large of a role scientology actually factors into Danny Masterson’s legal conflict.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.