Jury begins deliberations in Danny Masterson rape retrial
Jurors in Danny Masterson's rape retrial have begun deliberations in the case against the former That '70s Show star.
The jury of seven men and five women got the case when prosecutors finally finished their rebuttal after all-day closing arguments a day earlier.
Late last year, a jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case against Masterson involving rape allegations by three women, and Los Angeles Judge Charlaine Olmedo declared a mistrial.
READ MORE: Actor Danny Masterson used drugs, Scientology to get away with raping women, prosecutor tells jury
Prosecutors said in their closing argument on Tuesday that Masterson drugged the women in order to assault them, then relied on his status as a prominent member in the Church of Scientology to avoid consequences for decades.
"You don't want to have sex? You don't have a choice," Deputy District Attorney Ariel Anson told the jury. "The defendant makes that choice for these victims. And he does it over and over and over again."
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After closing arguments, Masterson's attorney Philip Cohen made a motion for a mistrial, one of several that he made during the three-week trial, because of the prosecution's mention of drugging, which is not part of the charges. Olmedo rejected the motion, saying that the prosecution was acting within the bounds of her pre-trial decision by allowing them to assert that the women were drugged.
Masterson, 47, has pleaded not guilty to raping three women at his home between 2001 and 2003. During the defence's closing, Cohen told jurors that the women's accounts are so full of inconsistencies that there is more than enough reasonable doubt for jurors to acquit Masterson.
READ MORE: That '70s Show star 'drugged and raped women', jury told
Cohen emphasised the lack of any physical evidence of drugging, with the investigation that led to Masterson's arrest coming some 15 years after the alleged rapes.
"Miss Anson presented a case as if she was arguing a drugging case," Cohen said. "Maybe it's because there is no evidence of force or violence."
Scientology played an outsized role during the trial. Masterson is a member, and all three women are former members. Prosecutors said the institution protected him, and helped convince the women that they were not raped and could not go to authorities to report a fellow Scientologist in good standing. The church denied having any such policy.
Masterson could get more than 40 years in prison if convicted on all three counts.
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