'That '70s Show' actor Danny Masterson has been charged with the rape of three women in the early 2000s and was arrested at Los Angeles on Wednesday. Masterson's arrest follows a three-year-long investigation that accuses him of raping three different women in their 20s when the actor was at the peak of his career.
Morrison is the latest Hollywood figure to be arrested in the #MeToo era that has brought to the fore quite a few big names who were allegedly involved in rape and sex scandals. Masterson was released a few hours after posting a $3.3 million bond and is scheduled to be arraigned on September 18.
Masterson Thrice Guilty
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said on Wednesday that Masterson has been charged with forcibly raping three women in separate incidents between 2001 and 2004. He has been accused of raping a 23-year old sometime in 2001 and a 28-year-old woman in April 2003 and another 23-year-old who he had invited to his Hollywood Hills home between October and December 2003.
Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller of the Sex Crimes Division, who is prosecuting the case, said that all of the alleged rapes took place at Masterson's Hollywood Hills home. Prosecutors declined to file charges against the 44-year-old actor in two other cases the police had investigated. The first case was dropped owing to the lack of evidence, while the statute of limitation had expired in the second.
A lawsuit was filed against Masterson by four women in California last year alleging the actor of drugging, raping and sexually assaulting them in the early 2000s. Two of the women named in the suit were Masterson's ex-girlfriends Chrissie Bixler and Bobette Riales, while the other two were only identified as Jane Does.
If convicted, Masterson could face up to 45 years in prison. Masterson's attorney Tom Mesereau said his client was innocent and vowed to fight the charges. "Mr. Masterson 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. 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," said Mesereau, who had earlier represented high-profile names like Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby in sexual misconduct cases.
An Image Tarnished
The alleged rapes took place when Masterson was at the peak of his career as he starred in the retro sitcom 'That '70s Show' that also featured Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace. The show ran on Fox TV between 1998 and 2006 and since then has had several successful reruns.
Masterson once again joined forces with Kutcher for the popular Netflix sitcom 'The Ranch' in 2017 when the LAPD launched an investigation into the alleged sexual crimes. That, however, did not bring immediate threat to his career. However, later in the year after allegations of rape and other sexual crimes against producer Harvey Weinstein shook Hollywood, Masterson was dropped from the show. Masterson has been married to actor and model Bijou Phillips since 2011.