Judge Olmedo denies Danny Masterson request for trial delay
After arguments yesterday over which witnesses and evidence would be allowed in the criminal rape trial of That ‘70s Show actor Danny Masterson, Judge Charlaine Olmedo this morning issued a number of rulings ahead of next week’s trial.
She denied a defense request for a delay based on anti-Scientology campaign ads aired by mayoral candidate Rick Caruso. The defense had argued that Caruso's ads, and similarly anti-Scientology responses by his opponent Karen Bass, was creating an environment that would make it hard for Masterson, a lifelong Scientologist, to get a fair trial.
It seemed like a longshot, and it was shot down.
But Judge Olmedo also had bad news for the prosecution. The 1996 victim prosecutors wanted to call as a witness, the one we wrote about this morning, will not be allowed in the prosecution’s main case, but could be included if the defense brings her up, which seems unlikely.
Another request by the defense was that the word “Scientology” be excluded from the case and replaced with references to “the church” or “the club” and not explained to the jury.
Judge Olmedo denied this request, but she also said that the victims, based on their testimony at last year’s preliminary hearing, were quite capable of explaining Scientology policies, and so an expert like Claire Headley is not needed. If it turns out later that an expert is needed, a hearing could be held at that point to decide whether to bring in Claire. Once again, as during the prelim last year, Judge Olmedo made it clear that she will allow testimony about Scientology, but for limited purposes.
In other rulings, the prosecution will be allowed to ask Jane Doe 2 about what happened when she went to Scientology with a previous sexual assault (but not details of the assault itself).
Judge Olmedo is also excluding any testimony about the fact that if Danny is convicted, under California law the victims would then have a year to file a civil lawsuit against him for the rapes. (The defense had wanted to refer to this in order to make the argument that the women are motivated by money.)
Judge Olmedo ruled that the prosecution can introduce evidence about a specific firearm and its registration, as it relates to the allegation by Jane Doe 1 that he brandished the weapon during her attack.
Danny’s DJ name, “DJ Donkey Punch,” will be excluded.
The case is on a break, and Judge Olmedo will have more rulings later.
So, a couple of disappointments for the prosecution so far, but once again the door is open for Scientology itself to be a big part of this trial. And based on what the prosecution has revealed so far, it will be.
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