“That ’70s Show” star Danny Masterson appears in court; lawyer says rape accusations are “politicized”

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Danny Masterson, who was recently charged with the rape of three women, made his first court appearance on Friday in a Los Angeles courtroom where his lawyer maintained his innocence and claimed the charges against him were ” politicized ”.

The ‘That’ 70s Show ‘alumnus appeared before a judge on Friday in a dark blue suit with a gray tie and face covering as the three accusers sat in the gallery.

The 44-year-old man was arrested in June but was released on $ 3.3 million bail.

Masterson did not plead. However, Tom Mesereau, a member of his legal counsel, said that the charges against Masterson by Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey were based on events that occurred nearly 20 years ago, and furthermore have claimed they were applied by pressure to prosecute Masterson as Lacey faces an election, as well as the result of unfair hype.

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Danny Masterson, left, stands alongside his lawyer, Thomas Mesereau as he is arraigned for rape in Los Angeles Superior Court in Los Angeles, Calif., Friday, September 18, 2020.
(Lucy Nicholson / Pool Photo via AP)

“There have been repeated attempts to politicize this matter,” said Mesereau, who has also represented Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson in their cases of sexual misconduct. “He is absolutely not guilty and we will prove it. ”

Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller called the statements “pure speculation with no factual basis.”

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Mesereau spoke as the judge considered requests to allow media cameras in court, which he approved.

Mesereau argued that the media presence would be unfairly prejudicial to Masterson and taint potential jurors.

Danny Masterson.
(Getty Images)

“We want to do everything we can to tone down the cameras and the circus atmosphere that have permeated this case,” the lawyer said. “We are just trying to protect his rights. ”

Superior Court Judge Miguel T. Espinoza also dismissed a defense request for a protective order sealing cases and preventing police, prosecutors and potential witnesses from revealing information about the case to the media, but has said he would reconsider a similar request later.

The defense filed documents asking that the criminal complaint against Masterson be dismissed as insufficient. A hearing on the matter will take place before Masterson is invited to plead.

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Masterson’s arrest came after a three-year investigation that resulted in rare lawsuits against a famous Hollywood figure during the #MeToo era. Despite dozens of investigations, most have not resulted in any charges due to lack of evidence or the passage of time.

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Danny Masterson appears on arraignment in Los Angeles Superior Court in Los Angeles, California, Friday, September 18, 2020. The
Danny Masterson appears on arraignment in Los Angeles Superior Court in Los Angeles, California, Friday, September 18, 2020. The “That ’70s Show” actor has been arraigned on three rape charges. (Lucy Nicholson / Pool Photo via AP)

About 20 friends and supporters accompanied Masterson to court, standing in the courthouse lobby with him awaiting the hearing, but only a few were allowed into the courtroom due to the demands away from the coronavirus.

He only spoke to answer “yes” to the judge’s questions.

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Masterson is charged with three counts of rape by force or fear. Prosecutors say he raped a 23-year-old woman in 2001, a 28-year-old woman in April 2003 and a 23-year-old woman between October and December 2003. Prosecutors have declared all of the alleged attacks. arrived home.

If found guilty, Masterson could face up to 45 years in prison.

If found guilty, Masterson could face up to 45 years in prison.
(AP, FILE)

The women, who are not named in the prosecution documents, said in a statement through their attorneys when Masterson was arrested having suffered “harassment, embarrassment and revictimization” since they were arrested. have started to cooperate with the authorities and that they are The Los Angeles County Attorney’s Office is finally seeking criminal justice. ”

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Masterson was fired from his role on Netflix’s “The Ranch” in 2017, shortly after the allegations came to light. A criminal investigation was carried out at the time but no charges were laid.

Masterson told the Huffington Post at the time, “I’m obviously very disappointed with Netflix’s decision to drop my character from ‘The Ranch’. From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me. I have never been accused of a crime, let alone convicted of a crime. ”

The statement continued: “In this country you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in the current climate, it looks like you are presumed guilty by the time you are charged. I understand and can’t wait to clear my name once and for all. ”

If found guilty, Masterson could face up to 45 years in prison.

The Associated Press contributed to this report