Warning: This article may be triggering for some readers. Please read at your own discretion.
The women who have accused Danny Masterson of sexual misconduct recently revealed they have suffered “harassment, embarrassment and re-victimization” by the actor and the Church of Scientology, of which he’s a member, since Masterson and the church learned they were “co-operating with authorities.”
Masterson was charged with three counts of rape by force or fear on Tuesday, and an arrest warrant was issued. He was arrested late Wednesday morning, jail records showed.
The That ’70s Show actor was released a few hours later after posting bond and is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 18. If convicted, the 44-year-old actor could face up to 45 years in prison.
The women issued a statement on Wednesday through their lawyers saying they have suffered “harassment, embarrassment and re-victimization by Masterson and the Church of Scientology, which has only worsened since they learned we were co-operating with authorities.”
“We are thankful that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office is finally seeking criminal justice against Masterson,” the statement said. “We are confident that the truth will be known and hope that the charges filed today are the first steps in this long journey of healing, justice and holding those that victimized us accountable.”
Two of the four alleged victims have chosen to remain anonymous, and the other two — Chrissie Carnell Bixler and Marie Riales — are ex-girlfriends of Masterson.
Masterson has previously denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.
Shortly after Masterson’s charges and arrest were announced, actor Leah Remini took to Twitter to celebrate the news.
“Finally, victims are being heard when it comes to Scientology!” Remini tweeted. “Praise the lord! This is just the beginning Scientology, your days of getting away with it is coming to an end! #Justice #ScientologyTheAftermath.”
In 2017, Remini, who is a former member of the Church of Scientology, accused the Los Angeles Police Department of covering up Masterson’s investigation in order to appease Scientology leaders.
Months after, Remini continued to speak out against Masterson, and the finale episode of her Emmy-winning series Scientology and the Aftermath was supposed to include two of the four women who accused Masterson of sexual assault, but that episode was reportedly shelved in February 2019.
After months of back-and-forth, Remini’s two-hour special, titled Waiting for Justice, aired in August 2019. She interviewed Masterson’s accusers about their experiences with the former The Ranch actor and condemned the Church of Scientology, alleging it was protecting him from justice.
In August 2019, the four women filed a lawsuit against Masterson and the Church of Scientology, alleging that they were stalked and intimidated after reporting sexual assault allegations against the actor.
Bixler, Riales and two Jane Does filed a complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court claiming the defendants harassed them and their families in an effort to silence and intimidate them.
Masterson was fired from the Netflix series The Ranch and quietly dropped by his former talent agency, United Talent Agency (UTA), after the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) confirmed it was investigating sexual assault allegations against him from multiple women in 2016 and 2017.
“I am obviously very disappointed in Netflix’s decision to write my character off of The Ranch,” the actor wrote in a statement at the time of his firing. “From Day 1, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one.
“In this country, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused. I understand and look forward to clearing my name once and for all.”
The lawsuit accused Masterson and the Church of Scientology of engaging in stalking, physical invasion of privacy and conspiracy to obstruct justice, among other allegations. Three of the women who have accused Masterson are former Scientologists.
Masterson released a statement through his lawyer at the time, Andrew Brettler, saying the lawsuit “is beyond ridiculous.”
“I’m not going to fight my ex-girlfriend in the media like she’s been baiting me to do for more than two years,” the statement said. “I will beat her in court — and look forward to it because the public will finally be able (to) learn the truth and see how I’ve been railroaded by this woman. And once her lawsuit is thrown out, I intend to sue her and the others who jumped on the bandwagon for the damage they caused me and my family.”
A litigation lawyer for the Church of Scientology also released a statement in August 2019 calling the lawsuit “a sham.”
“From everything we have read in the press, this baseless lawsuit will go nowhere because the claims are ludicrous and a sham,” the statement read. “It’s a dishonest and hallucinatory publicity stunt. Leah Remini is taking advantage of these people as pawns in her money-making scam.”
On Wednesday, Masterson’s lawyer, Tom Mesereau, said his client is innocent, and “we’re confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify.”
Prosecutors allege that Masterson raped a 23-year-old woman sometime in 2001, a 28-year-old woman in April 2003 and a 23-year-old woman he had invited to his Hollywood Hills home between October and December 2003.
Prosecutors declined to file charges in two other cases against Masterson, who is married to Bijou Phillips, that were investigated by police, one because of insufficient evidence and the other because the statute of limitations had expired.
“Obviously, Mr. Masterson and his wife are in complete shock considering that these nearly 20-year-old allegations are suddenly resulting in charges being filed, but they and their family are comforted knowing that ultimately the truth will come out,” Mesereau said.
“The people who know Mr. Masterson know his character and know the allegations to be false.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.
— With files from the Associated Press