One of the main actors from That ’70s Show, Danny Masterson, has been found guilty on two out of three counts of rape.
The 47-year-old’s charges date to a period where he was at the height of his fame, portraying Steven Hyde from 1998 until 2006 on the American sitcom that made stars of Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Topher Grace.
He was led out in handcuffs from a Los Angeles courtroom on Wednesday facing 30 years to life in prison.
Masterson’s wife, actor and model Bijou Phillips, gasped when the verdict was read and wept as he was taken into custody, while a group of family and friends who sat stone-faced throughout his second trial.
The Church of Scientology – the likes of Tom Cruise and Elisabeth Moss among its famous followers – is said to play a central role in the assaults.
The jury of seven women and five men voted 8-4 in favor of conviction after deliberating for seven days spread over two weeks, though they could not reach a verdict on the third count, which alleged Masterson raped a long-time girlfriend.
He will be held without bail until he is sentenced.
“I am experiencing a complex array of emotions – relief, exhaustion, strength, sadness – knowing that my abuser, Danny Masterson, will face accountability for his criminal behavior,” one of the women, whom Masterson knew as a fellow member of the church and was convicted of raping at his home in 2003, said in a statement.
A second woman, a former girlfriend, whose count left the jury deadlocked, said: “While I’m encouraged that Danny Masterson will face some criminal punishment, I am devastated that he has dodged criminal accountability for his heinous conducted against me.”
A spokesperson for Masterson declined to comment, but his attorneys will almost certainly appeal.
After a deadlocked jury led to a mistrial in December, prosecutors retried Masterson, saying he forcibly raped three women in his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003.
They told jurors he drugged the women’s drinks so he could rape them and said he used his prominence in the church – where all three women were also members at the time – to avoid consequences for decades.
Masterson did not testify, and his lawyers called no witnesses.
The defence argued that the acts were consensual, and attempted to discredit the women’s stories by highlighting changes and inconsistencies over time, which they said showed signs of coordination between them.
Tensions ran high in the courtroom between current and former Scientologists, and even leaked into testimony, with the accusers saying on the stand that they felt intimidated by some members in the room.
Actor Leah Remini, a former member who has become the church’s highest-profile critic, sat in on the trial at times, putting her arm around one of the accusers to comfort her during closing arguments.
The two women whose testimony led to Masterson’s conviction said that, in 2003, he gave them drinks and that they then became woozy or passed out before he violently raped them.
He knew both from social circles in the church.
The third, Masterson’s then-girlfriend of five years whose count left the jury deadlocked, said she awoke to find him raping her and had to pull his hair to stop him.
Masterson was not charged with any counts of drugging, and there is no toxicology evidence to back up the assertion – his attorney asked for a mistrial over the issue’s inclusion, which was denied.
He had reunited with Kutcher on the 2016 Netflix comedy The Ranch but was written off the show when an LAPD investigation was revealed in December 2017.