Danny Masterson rape case ends with judge declaring mistrial

Danny Masterson arrives at The Art of Elysium's fifth annual GENISIS in 2013
Danny Masterson’s rape case ended in the declaration of a mistrial. Pic credit: ©

Danny Masterson’s rape trial has concluded after more than a month and a half — with the judge declaring a mistrial.

It came after the jury was left deadlocked and could not agree unanimously on any of the three charges against Masterson.

The actor, who was known for his roles in That 70s Show and The Ranch, came under investigation in 2017 after three women filed sexual assault allegations against him.

The investigation culminated in 2020 with him being indicted on three charges of rape, though he posted bail and remained free until his trial officially began in October of this year.

During the trial, the jury heard the testimonies of Masterson’s alleged victims. However, after closing arguments, the jury spent three days in deliberation without reaching a verdict. The judge opted to take a break and reconvene after the Thanksgiving holiday to finish deliberations.

The jury still failed to reach a unanimous decision after Thanksgiving, and the judge ultimately declared a mistrial on November 30, 2022. This means Masterson was neither acquitted nor found guilty of the charges against him, opening the door to a potential retrial.

A tentative retrial date has already been set for March 2023.

Danny Masterson’s sexual assault allegations

Sexual assault allegations against Masterson first arose in March of 2017 when three women filed allegations against him and prompted the Los Angeles Police Department to investigate. All three women alleged that Masterson had sexually assaulted them and that the Church of Scientology pressured and intimidated them into remaining silent.

Masterson has always been open about his affiliation with the Church of Scientology, which has been embroiled in several controversies of its own over the years. While Masterson denied the allegations, he was quickly written off of The Ranch and dropped from his talent agency once the investigation got underway.

Two years after the women filed assault allegations against Masterson, four women filed lawsuits against both Masterson and the Church of Scientology. They alleged that Masterson and the Church had been stalking and harassing them for making accusations against him.

The women alleged multiple incidents where they were allegedly followed, run off the road, surveilled, photographed without their permission, or had their homes broken into. One woman even claimed that her dog’s unexplained death may have been part of the alleged stalking.

Masterson has not been charged in relation to the stalking lawsuit, but he was charged with three counts of rape in 2020 and arrested before posting bail. He has denied the allegations against him and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Despite filing motions to have the case dismissed, he ultimately went to trial on the charges. If found guilty, he could have faced up to 45 years in prison.

What does Masterson’s mistrial mean?

A declaration of a mistrial isn’t unheard of, but it is a bit unusual. Generally, it only happens in rare circumstances when there is a hung jury, or significant errors or misconduct took place in the justice process.

Despite a tentative date being set for retrial, Deputy District Attorney, Reinhold Mueller told Variety that a retrial had not been officially decided. A final decision to retry the case will come after the D.A. office has had a chance to converse with the alleged victims and witnesses to determine the next steps.

Masterson’s team will likely seek, again, to have the case dismissed. The prosecution could also choose not to retry the case if there is evidence it could lead to his acquittal or another deadlocked jury.

While the jury was far from unanimous, the majority leaned more towards acquittal on all three charges. After the mistrial decision, the alleged victims released a statement expressing disappointment in the result and reiterating their intentions to continue fighting for justice.

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