The case against Danny Masterson: Details from the prosecution brief on the eve of trial
Jury selection begins tomorrow in the criminal rape trial of Scientology celebrity and That ’70s Show actor Danny Masterson. He’s accused of forcibly raping three women between 2001 and 2003 who were Scientologists at the time. (They no longer are today.) If he’s found guilty of all three counts, he’s facing 45 years to life in prison. He’s pleaded not guilty and maintains his innocence.
To help you understand the case that Deputy DA Reinhold Mueller will be presenting to a jury once one is seated, we’ve decided to reproduce here the description of the case that Mueller himself outlined in a pretrial prosecution brief. (And please be forewarned that what follows contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault.)
It is primarily based on what the three women testified to last year at a preliminary hearing in May. But there are some other details that we haven’t seen before, and we think it provides a good guide to the case that you can draw on as we go forward.
Jane Doe 1
Described by the DA’s office when charges were announced in 2020 as “a 28-year-old woman who was attacked in April 2003.” This woman is known as Jane Doe 1 in both the criminal and civil cases. Here’s how the DA laid out her case in the pretrial brief…
Jane Doe 1 was a second-generation Scientologist and an active member of the Church of Scientology until leaving the Church in the early 2000’s. She first became acquainted with the defendant in the late nineties. Defendant was also a member of the Church and they had mutual friends in common. Jane Doe 1 had been to the defendant’s residence on prior occasions. On April 25, 2003, Jane Doe 1 arrived at the defendant’s residence at about 1 to 1:30 am to pick up a set of keys from the defendant’s close friend, Luke Watson. She planned to leave immediately thereafter. Watson told Jane Doe 1 that he was unable to find the keys. Thereafter, the defendant brought Jane Doe 1 a “red, really fruity colored tasting drink with vodka.” Jane Doe 1 was sitting outside the residence talking to Watson and “nursed” her drink. There were several other people there as well.
About 20 or 30 minutes later, defendant came back out front. He grabbed Jane Doe 1 by her wrists and pulled her into the backyard. At this point, Jane Doe 1 felt like she had no strength and was “very disoriented.” She had drunk less than half of her alcoholic beverage. Defendant then threw Jane Doe 1 into the jacuzzi. After about five or ten minutes in the jacuzzi Jane Doe 1 began feeling ill. “I could hardly see…I didn’t have the ability to stand up [and] my breathing was shallow…My vision was not good…I couldn’t see.” Luke Watson then helped Jane Doe 1 get out of the jacuzzi. She felt sick. Jane Doe 1 was unable to hold herself up and was unable to visually see. It was difficult for her to breathe and she felt like she was going to vomit. Jane Doe 1 was sitting on the tile ground and Watson was holding her torso up. Then, Jane Doe 1 hears defendant’s voice saying, “She just needs to throw up, man. I’m going to take her to throw up…I’m going to take her upstairs, stick my fingers down her throat, she needs to throw up.” Defendant then picked up Jane Doe 1 and carried her to a bathroom upstairs in the house. There, he put her on the floor and stuck his fingers down her throat causing her to vomit. Jane Doe 1 either fell asleep or passed out on the floor.
Defendant then pulled Jane Doe 1 into the shower. She was sitting on the floor of the shower and defendant was in front of her, holding her up. Defendant put his hand on Jane Doe 1’s breasts. She reacted by punching him in the chest. Subsequently, defendant pulled Jane Doe 1 out of the shower toward his bed and hoisted her onto his bed. Jane Doe 1 passed out after being put onto the bed. When she regained consciousness, she was on her back with the defendant on top of her penetrating her vagina with his penis. Jane Doe 1 reached for the defendant’s hair to pull him off. She also grabbed a pillow that was behind her neck and pushed it towards the defendant’s face to push him off. Defendant pushed the pillow back onto Jane Doe 1’s face as he continued to penetrate her vagina. Jane Doe 1 testified, “I couldn’t pull it off, and then I couldn’t breathe…And then I couldn’t see, and I was unconscious again.” When she regained consciousness, defendant was still penetrating her. Jane Doe 1 grabbed defendant’s neck to push him away. Defendant pulled her hand off his neck and put his hand on Jane Doe 1’s throat and squeezed. He held both of Jane Doe 1’s hands over her head with one hand while squeezing her throat with the other as he was penetrating her vagina with his penis. Jane Doe 1 lost consciousness again. Jane Doe 1 regained consciousness to a man’s voice yelling. Defendant is still penetrating her but stops after hearing the voice. Defendant reached into the nightstand drawer next to the bed and pulled out a handgun. He told Jane Doe 1, “Don’t fucking move, don’t fucking say anything, don’t fucking move.” Defendant then dropped the handgun back into the drawer. Defendant left the bedroom and Jane Doe 1 passed out again. Upon regaining consciousness, Jane Doe 1 noted that the defendant was gone. She rolled off the bed onto the floor and crawled into a closet where she hid behind a stack of clothes. She passed out again and awoke in the closet when it was daylight. Jane Doe 1 then went downstairs and left the defendant’s house.
Jane Doe 1 subsequently flew to Clearwater, Florida that same evening on April 25, 2003 with a large group of family and friends to celebrate her father’s birthday. In Florida, Jane Doe 1 told her cousin Rachel that “something really bad happened” to [her by the defendant]…and that she was “in a lot of pain, and it was really scary.” Jane Doe 1 was in Florida for about seven to ten days. Upon returning home, she reported the incident with the defendant to Julian Swartz. Mr. Swartz was a Scientology staff member to whom she was to report such an issue. During her explanation, Mr. Swartz told Jane Doe 1, “If you’re going to say the word ‘rape,’ don’t say it now. We don’t use that word.” Jane Doe 1 understood that reporting the rape by defendant to law enforcement is deemed a “suppressive act” by the Church and “[she] would lose [her] while family and everyone [she] knew…”
Jane Doe 1 sought permission from the Church, both verbally and in writing, to go to law enforcement and report her being raped by the defendant. Her written request was made on April 13, 2004 to Mike Ellis, the International Justice Chief with the Church of Scientology. Per Church policy, he is the only person you can write to regarding such legal issues. Jane Doe 1 received a written response from Mr. Ellis regarding her request to go to law enforcement and report her being raped. The response cited a “HCO Policy Letter, 7 March 1965, Suppressive Acts, Suppressing of Scientology and Scientologists.” Jane Doe 1 testified that she understood this to mean that “If I were to go and report a member in good standing [such as the defendant] for rape to law enforcement, I would be declared a Suppressive Person and I would be out of my family and friends and everything I have. Jane Doe 1 reported being raped by the defendant to law enforcement in June of 2004 despite it being a “suppressive act” and the consequences likely to result therefrom.
Jane Doe 2
Described by the DA’s office when charges were announced in 2020 as “a 23-year-old woman, who was attacked between October and December, 2003.” This woman is known as Jane Doe 2 in both the criminal and civil cases. Here’s how the DA laid out her case in the pretrial brief…
Jane Doe 2 and the defendant were both in the Celebrity Centre branch of Scientology together. She became a member of the Church at sixteen years of age after her mother, a former Scientologist herself, encouraged her to join. Jane Doe 2 would occasionally see the defendant socially at parties and gatherings. Their interaction was “very innocuous.” During one of the gatherings with friends at a local bar, the defendant said to Jane Doe 2 upon leaving, “give me your number.” Jane Doe 2 provided it and the defendant began texting her. A few days later, he told Jane Doe 2 to “come over to his residence immediately and to bring [her] bathing suit and that [she] was to get into his pool [or] jacuzzi.” Jane Doe 2 testified, “I was trying to hold my own and be, like, ‘No. You can ask me on a date, you know. I’m not just coming over there.’ He just kept pressuring and pressuring…I didn’t understand the pressure…I didn’t characterize it in my mind as something dangerous because I thought he was kind of joking or something…I thought…that this was his way of flirting.”
Between October and December of 2003, Jane Doe 3 agreed to go to defendant’s house on certain conditions that she expressed to the defendant prior to arriving at his residence. She testified to those conditions: “I said I would absolutely not be getting in any water or jacuzzi or pool and bringing a bathing suit…and I didn’t want to drink. I said maybe one glass of wine, we can talk and then I’m leaving.” Upon arriving to his house, the defendant greeted Jane Doe 2 at the door. They walked into his living room and Jane Doe 2 sat down on the couch. Defendant immediately handed her a glass of wine. Jane Doe 2 had a little vodka or wine before arriving so as not to be nervous from her anxiety. She felt calm, but “didn’t feel drunk at all” when she first got to his house. Jane Doe 2 started to feel the effects of the wine that defendant gave her. Defendant was being “very serious and commanding.” He told Jane Doe 2 to get into the jacuzzi and said, “Take off your clothes right now…If you don’t do it, I’m gonna do it…Get them off, I’m going to strip you right now.” Jane Doe 2 was “nervous and scared.” She didn’t want any violence to commence or escalate and was afraid to be argumentative with him. She was trying to keep things “in a very light place” by giggling and telling him she does not want to get into the jacuzzi. Defendant responded, “OK, well, you’re going in.” At the jacuzzi area is where everything started becoming blank for Jane Doe 2. She has very little recall of that moment. She believes the defendant removed some of her clothes and that she ultimately got into the jacuzzi, but “that part is blurry.” She believes there was kissing and “making out” while they were in the jacuzzi together.
Jane Doe 2’s next memory is defendant ordering her to go upstairs to his shower “like a drill sergeant” commanding her. He told her “get upstairs now to my shower. Get your clothes off and get in my shower now. Get up there.” Jane Doe 2 complied because “[she] was scared of him because he was so domineering and commanding.” Jane Doe 2 was “really out of it…[and] not fully with it” during this time. Jane Doe 2 remembers being in the shower, but not how she got there. Defendant entered the shower and began kissing Jane Doe 2. She was trying to control the kissing because “it was getting very heavy.” Jane Doe 2 testified, “Then, all of a sudden…really fast [he] put his penis inside of me, and I was ‘like, what are you doing?’ Because I had told him ‘no we cannot have sex under any circumstances, no intercourse.’ So, when he put his penis in really fast in the shower I was like, ‘Get out. What are you doing? I told you not to do that.'” Defendant penetrated her vagina with his penis.
Defendant then told Jane Doe 2 to get into his bedroom. She complied. They were “making out” on the bed and Jane Doe 2 pleaded with him and said, “OK, Danny…we cannot have sex. Do you understand me? No intercourse, please.” Jane Doe 2 testified, “I was pleading with him because it was getting out of hand, and I couldn’t control the situation anymore.” They were kissing. Jane Doe 2 thinks she recalls oral copulation, but it was “very blurry.” She was still saying to the defendant, “No, I don’t want to do this. This is too much. We have to slow down and stop. It’s too much.” Jane Doe 2 testified, “Then he said, ‘OK, that’s it.’ And he flipped me over [sort of on my hands and knees] and he just started pounding [my vagina with his penis] from behind — pounding me really hard like a jackhammer from behind. It was really hard pounding, and it hurt. It was so hard…that I started to vomit in my mouth.” Defendant then flipped Jane Doe 2 over onto her back, and then over onto her stomach, each time penetrating her vagina with his penis. Jane Doe 2 testified that physically, “I felt like limp and a rag doll…I was not in control of all my faculties. I was just sort of spent.” Emotionally, she felt “confused.” She testified that afterward, “he went and got a wet, hot towel to wipe cum off of me as though he were pretending to be a gentleman for a minute.” They talked for a couple hours afterwards before Jane Doe 2 left the defendant’s house very early in the morning.
Jane Doe 2 first reported the incident to her mother and best friend. She never reported it to the Church of Scientology. Jane Doe 2 testified she did not do so, “because I knew that I would be in trouble…They have policies and they open up a book and show you…if you have a legal situation with another member of the Church, you may not handle it externally from the Church, and it’s very explicit. You mustn’t do that. You’ll be excommunicated. You will lose everything your family, your friends that you’ve made, your good standing with the Church, your good standing with society….They put you on ‘Blast’ as being a suppressive person and you are officially what’s called ‘Declared.'” Jane Doe 2 was taught these policies while a member of the Church and “felt sufficiently intimidated by the repercussions [she] knew [she] would face for accusing someone who [the Church] considers more important than [her].
Jane Doe 3
Described by the DA’s office when charges were announced in 2020 as “a 23-year-old woman, who was attacked between January and December 2001.” This woman is known in the criminal case as Jane Doe 3, and in the civil case by her actual name, Chrissie Carnell-Bixler. Chrissie says she made her name public because when we first broke the story of the LAPD investigation in 2017, Masterson’s publicist gave her name to numerous news websites and she was inundated with calls from media and felt forced to be public. Here’s how the DA laid out her case in the pretrial brief…
Jane Doe 3 and the defendant first met at the end of September 1996. Jane Doe 3 had just turned 18 years old. They began a dating relationship shortly thereafter and lived together for six years. Jane Doe 3 was not a member of the Church of Scientology when she initially began her relationship with the defendant. Defendant encouraged her to become a member after a few months of being together. [She] understood that…[she] had to. Within a year into their relationship, defendant’s behavior changed becoming “more aggressive sexually.” He also became physically abusive.
In November of 2001, Jane Doe 3 was in bed sleeping. She awoke to the defendant having sex with her. His penis was penetrating her vagina. She did not want to have sex with him and told the defendant, “Stop, get off me. I don’t want to have sex with you tonight.” Jane Doe 3 testified, “I fought back. I tried pushing him off me and saying, ‘No, I don’t want to have sex with you.’ He got angry and I kept trying to push him and he put all of his weight down on top of my body, which he often did, and I didn’t like that. But he wouldn’t stop, so I did something I knew would make him angry and likely to get off of me. I pulled his hair.” When Jane Doe 3 was trying to push the defendant off, “he put [her] arms back and he had…his elbow…on top of…[her] arm. So, with her other hand, he “pulled his hair really hard.” Defendant had a “no touch hair rule, no touch face rule.” Jane Doe 3 testified that “he had this thing about his hair, so I knew if I pulled it really, really hard, he would get off me. But what he did was hit me.” Defendant hit her with a “loose fist” on her cheek. Jane Doe 3 got angry and was “screaming” and telling him to get off as the defendant was still penetrating her. Defendant finally got off Jane Doe 3 and spat on her while standing over her and called her “white trash” as he often did when he was mad at her. Defendant then left and slept downstairs in the guest bedroom.
Jane Doe 3 did not initially report this incident. In December of 2001, Jane Doe 3 and the defendant went out for dinner together at a restaurant. She had one or maybe to glasses of wine at dinner. She had no alcoholic beverages prior to dinner. Jane Doe 3 testified, “I just remember [defendant] saying, ‘let’s go,’ and the last thing I remember was standing up to leave.” Her next recollection is waking up naked and alone in her bed in the morning. The back of her head hurt. Her joints and entire body were in pain. Jane Doe 3 testified, “I was injured.” explained that she noticed a “little blood” from her anus upon going to the bathroom and she “felt torn.” Jane Doe 3 had “a lot of pain. It hurt to sit down. It hurt to go to the bathroom. Jane Doe 3 went downstairs to locate and confront the defendant. “I asked him, ‘what happened last night?’ I said I didn’t have any memory. I remember asking him if I fell…I said, ‘I don’t know what’s wrong, but my bottom is injured.'” In response, “[defendant] laughed at me, and he said he had sex with me there. And I asked him if I was unconscious and he said ‘yes. And I said, ‘the whole time?’ And he said ‘yes.'” Jane Doe 3 told defendant that she was going to report him to the Church, and defendant responded, “that was fine.” She did so the next day.
Jane Doe 3 reported being sexually assaulted by the defendant to Miranda Scoggins. She was the “Ethics Officer” or “Master at Arms” at the Church of Scientology. The Ethics Officer is the Church official that you go to for help on such matters. Jane Doe 3 testified, “I said to her, ‘he raped me,’ and she said to me, ‘you can’t rape someone that you’re in a relationship with.’ And she said, ‘don’t say that word again.'” Jane Doe 3 trusted Miranda Scoggins and believed her when she told Jane Doe 3 that it can’t be rape when you’re in a relationship. Further, Jane Doe 3 was told by both Miranda Scoggins and her husband, Chris Scoggins, the Church Chaplain at the Celebrity Centre, that she is not able to tell anyone about what happened. Jane Doe 3 testified, “when I told [Miranda Scoggins] what he had done to me, she explained to me that you can’t rape your…2D, which is second dynamic which means your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, your partner. She showed me things — policies and things in the Ethics Book about high crimes in Scientology and one of them being reporting another Scientologist to law enforcement. It’s a high crime that would get me declared a Suppressive Person.” Jane Doe 3 also spoke to Chaplain Chris Scoggins about being raped. She testified, “He explained to me very clearly that Mr. Masterson was doing these things because I was out-exchange with him[,] [meaning] he provides a roof over my head, and he supports me and my exchange is when he wants to have sex, I give it to him.” Both the Ethics Officer Miranda Scoggins and the Chaplain Chris Scoggins told Jane Doe 3 that these incidents occurred because “[she] did something to ‘pull it in’ — that [she] did something to deserve what [he] did to [her] or would do to [her]” — that it was something that Jane Doe 3 did to cause this to happen. Ultimately, Jane Doe 3 understood that she was not to tell anyone else or report it to law enforcement, and she didn’t. She understood that if she would have reported her being raped by the defendant to law enforcement, “the Church would have ultimately destroyed [her]…[It’s] written in [the] policy. She would have been declared a Suppressive Person.”
Jane Doe 4
Masterson faces trial this week on three charges of forcible rape. However, Deputy DA Mueller has asked the court to allow him to bring in a “past bad acts witness,” a woman who says she was victimized by Masterson in 1996, when he would have only been about 20 years old. Judge Olmedo ruled that the prosecution could not bring in Jane Doe 4 as a part of their main case, but she may end up testifying on rebuttal, so we think it’s worth presenting her allegations that were in the prosecution brief…
On November 21, 2019, Jane Doe 4 reported the following two acts of sexual assault by the defendant to law enforcement:
Jane Doe 4 and the defendant were cast in a movie together in the 1990s. The first incident occurred after a film shoot in . A group of people involved in the film went to the defendant’s house and drank alcoholic beverages and smoked marijuana. Defendant invited everyone to spend the night if they were too intoxicated to go home. Jane Doe 4 had about 4 to 6 alcoholic drinks over a 6-to-7 hour period that evening and had smoked a little marijuana. She decided to spend the night in a separate bedroom where she slept on the floor. She was awakened by the defendant who carried her into his bedroom. She was still intoxicated and her memory of the incident was incomplete. She describes flashes of memories. She remembers awakening to the defendant on top of her and having sex with her. Her next memory was waking up in the morning naked.
The second incident occurred approximately two months later at her apartment. Defendant arrived with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. They each had a drink. Her memory was also incomplete in this incident. Jane Doe 4 believes she may have been drugged. She recalled a memory of her awakening to defendant having sex with her. She asked the defendant if he was wearing a condom. Defendant told her he was a Scientologist and they don’t need condoms. Her next memory was waking up in the morning naked with the defendant.
A note on the charges
So that’s how the prosecution lays out its case in a pretrial brief. But there’s something to keep in mind about the challenge that Deputy DA Mueller has before him.
Because the women waited to come forward, too much time has passed for their cases to be brought against Masterson on an individual basis. Even an act of violent, forcible rape is past statute for an incident in 2001 and 2003.
However, under California’s “One Strike” law, if multiple cases result in conviction, then they carry a potential life sentence. (Each individual count carries a penalty of 15 years to life.) And as Mueller explained early in the prosecution, if a crime carries a potential life sentence, there is no statute of limitations.
So the upshot is, in order to qualify for that “multiple” qualifier, two convictions out of the three charges are required.
In other words, Mueller brought three counts to court knowing that he needs guilty verdicts on two of them to send Danny Masterson to prison.
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