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Jury finds Danny Masterson guilty on 2 counts in rape retrial

(ABC) -- A Los Angeles jury has found former "That '70s Show" actor Danny Masterson guilty of two counts of forcible rape in a retrial of a case involving three women.

The third count against Jane Doe 3 has been declared a mistrial.

The jury reached its verdict Wednesday afternoon after deliberating since May 17.

Masterson, 47, pleaded not guilty to three counts of felony rape following accusations by three different women, including a former girlfriend. The alleged attacks took place between 2001 and 2003.

He faced 45 years to life in prison if convicted on all three charges.

PHOTO: FILE - Actor Danny Masterson leaves Los Angeles superior Court with his wife Bijou Phillips after a judge declared a mistrial in his rape case in Los Angeles on Nov. 30, 2022.
Actor Danny Masterson leaves Los Angeles superior Court with his wife Bijou Phillips after a judge declared a mistrial in his rape case in Los Angeles on Nov. 30, 2022.Brian Melley/AP

The first trial ended in a mistrial in November 2022, with the jury deadlocked and unable to reach a verdict.

The three alleged victims were members of the Church of Scientology, as is Masterson. All three women said they were initially hesitant to speak to law enforcement because they said church teachings discouraged reporting to police. The women eventually left the church.

One woman claimed the actor shoved a pillow into her face in 2003 while raping her.

Another woman, who was dating Masterson at the time, claimed he raped her in 2001 while she was asleep.

In opening statements of the new trial in late April, prosecutors said the evidence will show that the women were also drugged -- a detail not mentioned directly during the first trial but which the judge allowed in the retrial. They also introduced a fourth woman who claimed Masterson drugged and raped her in 2000.

The defense, meanwhile, countered that the alleged victims' stories are inconsistent and suggested the women have colluded over time. They also added that Scientology is "not a defendant" in the case.

During closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller told the jury the women were "absolutely wrecked" after having a small amount to drink, and that the "reasonable explanation" is that they were drugged, ABC Los Angeles station KABC reported.

"What happened after they were drugged? They were raped by this man over here, they were raped," Mueller said as he pointed at Masterson.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Philip Cohen told the jury the women may have "tweaked or maneuvered" their stories to bolster their case, and that they may be motivated by "hatred, revenge or money," KABC reported.

Shortly after the jury was dismissed to begin deliberations on May 17, the defense asked for a mistrial -- arguing that prosecutors spent too much of their closing arguments on the alleged drugging of the victims, according to KABC.

Judge Charlaine Olmedo denied the request, citing her ruling that prosecutors could argue the women were drugged because it was "directly relevant to their ability to perceive the events of the charged incidents," KABC reported.

Masterson, who was arrested in 2020, said each of the encounters was consensual. "That '70s Show" was still on the air at the time of all three alleged rapes.

The Church of Scientology previously told ABC News that there's "no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of Scientologists, or of anyone, to law enforcement. ... Church policy explicitly demands Scientologists abide by all laws of the land."

Actress and notable ex-Scientology member Leah Remini was among those in the courtroom during the trial, telling ABC News she was there to support the "brave" women.

The defense asked to have Remini removed from the courtroom at the beginning of the trial, which the judge denied.

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