Bombshells in Danny Masterson’s case: Grand jury testimony, and evidence against Scientology
On September 5, we told you that we had learned that Lavely & Singer, legendary entertainment attorney Marty Singer’s firm that also employs Andrew Brettler, Danny Masterson’s civil attorney, had objected to a subpoena that was issued by Danny’s prosecutor, Deputy DA Reinhold Mueller.
We wondered if Marty Singer had been subpoenaed, and if that was the reason that his firm was fighting it.
It turns out that’s not quite the case. In fact, the truth is much juicier.
On Wednesday, a hearing was held in the Masterson criminal case at Judge Charlaine Olmedo’s courtroom, and we now have a copy of the court transcript and the pleadings by both sides, and we can tell you that with only a few weeks to go before Danny’s rape trial, some very interesting things are emerging as both sides jockey for position.
The subpoena that both sides were fighting over turns out not to be for Marty Singer himself, but for documents in Singer’s possession. And how does the prosecution know that Singer has these documents they want to see? Because of what Singer said in grand jury testimony.
Yes, we have told you in the past that we suspected that a grand jury was looking at the Danny Masterson case.
Now we have proof of it.
In his pleadings and in Wednesday’s hearing, prosecutor Reinhold Mueller revealed that a county grand jury has been looking at Masterson in both its 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 sessions. (We first broke the news that Masterson was being investigated by the LAPD on March 3, 2017.)
And on January 30, 2020, Masterson’s longtime entertainment attorney, Marty Singer, was called down to testify, as was Jane Doe 1’s ‘Marsy’s Law’ attorney, Nina Hawkinson. “The target of the investigative Grand Jury hearing was Daniel Masterson,” Mueller said in a pleading.
We don’t know the full scope of what Singer was asked that day in the grand jury, but we do know, based on quotes from his testimony that Mueller included in his pleadings, that there was considerable time spent on a particular 2004 document: The agreement hammered out between Masterson and the woman going by the name Jane Doe 1.
We’ve been telling you about that agreement since almost the beginning of our reporting on this case in 2017. Masterson, the That ’70s Show actor and Scientology celebrity, is facing charges that he forcibly raped three women, all Scientologists at the time, between 2001 and 2003. He’s been charged under California’s strict “One Strike” law, and if he’s convicted of all three rapes he faces 45 years to life in prison.
One of the three alleged victims is Chrissie Carnell-Bixler, who dated Masterson and also appeared on That ‘70s Show. The other two women are going by the names Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2. All three have testified that they did not come forward sooner in part because they feared retaliation by the Church of Scientology.
But one of them, Jane Doe 1, did go to the LAPD in 2004, saying that she had been raped by Masterson at his house on the night of April 25, 2003. Scientology then swamped the police with statements by Scientologists claiming that Jane Doe 1 was a liar.
After the DA decided not to charge Masterson after a month-long investigation, Jane Doe 1 testified that she was then pressured by Masterson’s attorney Marty Singer, Scientology’s attorney Kendrick Moxon, and a Scientology ethics officer named Julian Swartz to sign the agreement with Masterson, which included a non-disclosure agreement.
Jane Doe 1 testified last year that she was pressured to sign the 2004 agreement or she would be declared a “suppressive person” by Scientology and it would cost her contact with her own family.
Deputy DA Mueller revealed that in the grand jury session, Singer was asked about the agreement, which was signed after a “mediation” that took place between September 15 and 18 in 2004. Singer also told the grand jury that during that time, he had talked to Danny’s publicist, Jenni Weinman, and his assistant, Brie Shaffer.
That date really grabbed us. Why?
On December 1, 2020, we published a story revealing that Danny Masterson and his assistant, Brie Shaffer, had made some suspicious-looking property swaps, with Masterson giving Shaffer two multi-unit, million-dollar apartment buildings. Seven months later, she gave them back to him. We suggested that one explanation for Masterson putting the buildings in his assistant’s name was that it was an attempt to keep them out of the reach of Jane Doe 1 in case she decided to sue him.
Now, we have to wonder if there was a different reason. Look again at what Marty Singer said in grand jury testimony: The “mediation” began on September 15, 2004, and Singer said that Brie Shaffer was a part of those talks.
And when did Danny put two million-dollar buildings into Brie Shaffer’s name, according to property records?
September 15, 2004.
Mueller stated in Wednesday’s hearing that Brie Shaffer will be an important witness in the trial.
Well, we are very curious to see what he’s going to ask her, and if she’ll be probed not only about the 2004 agreement that Jane Doe 1 says she was pressured into, but also why Brie ended up with two million-dollar apartment buildings at the same time.
(We will also point out that in 2018, the year after we first broke the news that Masterson was under investigation, Brie Shaffer and her husband, Scientologist actor Michael Peña, moved across the country from Southern California to Clearwater, Florida, and close to Scientology leader David Miscavige.)
At the top of the list of documents that Mueller says he wants, based on what Singer said to the grand jury, is a copy of the 2004 agreement itself. It turns out that, even though Jane Doe 1 was a signatory of it, she has testified that Singer never gave her a copy of it. (Her Marsy’s Law attorney, Nina Hawkinson, told the grand jury she had tried to get a copy from Singer, but he told her she wasn’t allowed to have a copy unless she also signed a non-disclosure agreement. She declined.)
Both of the attorneys representing Masterson in the hearing on Wednesday seemed perplexed by this. Both Brettler, who represents Masterson in the civil harassment lawsuit filed by Danny’s accusers, and Philip Cohen, who will be defending Masterson in the rape trial, expressed surprise to Judge Olmedo that Jane Doe 1 didn’t have her own copy of the agreement. Why was that?
But they should probably be asking Marty Singer that question, as Jane Doe 1 has testified that he never allowed her to have a copy of her own agreement.
Why? What’s in this document that is so secret, even Masterson isn’t named in it. (He used an alias: “David Duncan.”)
Although both Brettler and Cohen seemed surprised that Jane Doe 1 didn’t have a copy, they both tried to talk Judge Olmedo out of giving a copy of it to the prosecution. And if she did, Cohen argued, she should prevent Mueller from showing it to Jane Doe 1.
Say what? What makes them so nervous about this document? Is it the terms that spell out what penalty Jane Doe 1 would face if she violated it and went public? (In other words, a powerful reason for why she wouldn’t want to go again to the police, and a powerful argument against the defense’s contention that she is simply motivated by trying to get money out of Masterson with the lawsuit.) Or is there something in it about Scientology’s involvement that the church doesn’t want her to see?
Mueller, the prosecutor, argued that the defense had already made the 2004 agreement fair game when Cohen’s predecessor, Tom Mesereau, repeatedly asked Jane Doe 1 about it in the preliminary hearing in May 2021.
Once Mesereau used the 2004 agreement as a sort of prop in cross-examination, he had opened the door to the prosecution getting a copy of the document, Mueller argued.
Judge Olmedo agreed. She decided Wednesday to order the defense to turn over a copy of the 2004 agreement to the prosecution, under seal (so we won’t see it), but she said that the prosecution can share it with Jane Doe 1, the thing that Danny’s attorneys were so opposed to.
She also found that whatever communications Masterson’s publicist (Weinman) and assistant (Shaffer) had with Singer were not covered under attorney-client privilege because Singer was Masterson’s attorney, not theirs. So the Lavely & Singer firm will also have to turn over some communications between the two women and the firm to the prosecution, again under seal.
So, it turns out that Marty Singer’s 2020 grand jury testimony has opened the door for the prosecution to get some key material here in the last few weeks before trial starts.
After Judge Olmedo made her decision, Philip Cohen, Masterson’s criminal defense attorney, raised a question with her. He referred to the trial briefs that both sides filed last week, which contained descriptions of what evidence they intend to put on, and also their witness lists. We haven’t seen these briefs, but Cohen wanted Judge Olmedo to know that he had an issue with what Mueller had submitted.
“The government’s brief seeks to bring in Scientology, the ways and means of Scientology. The government’s brief seeks to bring in, by my count, at least 27 incidents of quote-unquote harassment in whatever various form that are the gravamen of the civil case. The government noticed me last Thursday of an expert witness regarding Scientology. It’s the first I’ve heard of that. If those things are coming in at trial in three and a half weeks, there is absolutely no way I can prepare for that,” he said.
Judge Olmedo said she hadn’t had time to look at the briefs yet, but said she would keep his question in mind. But we’re left reeling by Cohen’s statement.
The government has evidence of 27 incidents of harassment of these victims by Scientology. And as Cohen is right to suggest, that’s the very point of the civil lawsuit. In 2019, Chrissie Carnell-Bixler, her husband rocker Cedric Bixler-Zavala, the two Jane Does, and another accuser, Bobette Riales, sued Masterson and Scientology for what they said was a harassment campaign after they came forward to the LAPD in 2016. Scientology has ridiculed this lawsuit, saying it has no merit and that the plaintiffs are complaining about the tough breaks of “urban living,” and that there was nothing to their allegations.
But now we learn that in the criminal trial, the government is going to substantiate those allegations while trying Masterson for rape. No wonder his attorney is concerned, and we can only imagine that Scientology leader David Miscavige will not be happy to hear it. And also, an expert witness on Scientology? We can’t wait to find out who that is. Who do you think it might be?
Anyway, Marty Singer also made a huge admission in his grand jury appearance that Mueller happened to include in one of his pleadings:
Mr. Singer testified that he has “represented other clients who are members of the Church of Scientology and on some occasions, they’ve agreed to pay the legal fees for those clients on particular matters,” but stated he is “not aware” if they paid for Masterson’s legal fees in the mediation matter.
There it is, in black and white: The Church of Scientology has used tax-free money to pay the legal fees of some of their celebrities who are represented by Marty Singer.
Thanks for letting us know, Marty.
Mark Bunker pushes back at Scientology meddling in Clearwater
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