She said she finds the women’s testimony credible for the purposes of the preliminary hearing, where the bar for sufficient evidence is significantly lower than it will be at the next trial. She ordered Masterson to surrender his passport at the time of his arraignment, granting a request from the district attorney’s office, CBS Los Angeles reported.
He remains free on $ 3.3 million bail and is due to return to a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on June 7 to be arraigned, the station reported.
This trial will represent the rare prosecution of a Hollywood figure in the #MeToo era despite dozens of Los Angeles police and district attorney investigations, most of which ended without charge.
Masterson, 45, has pleaded not guilty. His lawyers said they would prove his innocence, and during the hearing they repeatedly questioned the women about discrepancies in stories they alleged the accusers had coordinated in the years since their rapes. presumed. Lawyers said the age of the incidents, which date from 2001 and 2003, made precise recollections impossible.
“Memories fade and memories change,” said Masterson’s lawyer Sharon Appelbaum.
The actor had no visible reaction to the judge’s ruling as he sat in court, with a small group of family and friends behind him. Masterson’s senior attorney, Thomas Mesereau, who has also defended Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby in their sexual misconduct cases, declined to comment outside of court.
During the hearing, Mesereau suggested that police, prosecutors and witnesses were tainted with anti-religious biases against the Church of Scientology. Masterson is a prominent Scientologist, all three women are former Scientologists.
Scientology and its teachings were brought up so frequently during the hearing that the judge felt compelled to say that the church was not a defendant. The organization is likely to stand out even more at trial, where most of the witnesses will be either members or former members.
In her ruling, the judge said a document from the church about members not going to the police about other members and allowing the institution to mediate instead, “explains These women’s reluctance to report their accusations to the police for years enough.
Appelbaum said the three women had come together to form a “brotherhood” that “appears to want to take down Mr. Masterson and take down Scientology.”
Appelbaum said they spoke to each other, sometimes in violation of orders, by changing the account they initially gave to police.
“Over time their stories have become more and more similar,” she said. “They take each other’s language. “
Assistant District Attorney Reinhold Mueller said the testimony was “anything but” coordinated.
“These weren’t repeated statements,” Mueller said. “They were sincere, and they each had their side of what had happened. If there is consistency in these statements, it is because the accused was consistent in these acts. “
A woman, identified in court only as Jen B., said that in 2003 Masterson, a friend of the church where she was born a member, took her to the hot tub floor of her home in Los Angeles and raped her in her bedroom. Masterson’s attorney said the two had consensual sex. They pointed out that her testimony that Masterson had threatened her with a gun was not included in an initial police report in 2004.
Another woman, identified in court only as Christina B., had a five-year relationship with Masterson in 2001 when she said she woke up raping her during the night, which she hit back at and had made her stop by pulling her hair. Masterson’s attorneys have argued that she reframed the incident in recent years only after another alleged rape she reported could not lead to charges.
The third woman, identified in court only as N. Trout, said Masterson raped her one night in 2003 after texting her to come to his house, claiming she had set limits and was clear that there would be no sex. Defense attorneys said she knew she was going to his house for sex, stayed voluntarily most of the night, and sought a romantic relationship with him that she didn’t has not had.
The Associated Press does not generally name people who claim to be victims of sexual abuse.
Defense attorneys also said a lawsuit filed by the women showed they were seeking financial gain. The prosecutor replied that the lawsuit had been brought to end the harassment they had suffered from the church since they had come forward. The church has denied all allegations in the trial.
The allegations arose at the height of Masterson’s fame, when he starred as Steven Hyde on the retro Fox TV sitcom “That ’70s Show” from 1998 to 2006 alongside Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace.
He had reunited with Kutcher on the Western Netflix sitcom “The Ranch,” but was banned from the show when the LAPD’s investigation of him came to light in March 2017.