Danny Masterson’s Sexual Assault Trial Paused As Scientology Comes To The Fore

As the Danny Masterson trial continues this week, an alleged victim testified of sexual assaults she says the actor committed, and implicated the Church of Scientology in a coverup.

By Vic Medina | Updated

The trial of That 70s Show star Danny Masterson is continuing in Los Angeles, as a witness testified to the injuries and treatment she suffered during an alleged April 2003 sexual assault. The woman, referred to as “Jane Doe #1” or “Jen B” during trial testimony to protect her identity, laid out some disturbing accusations, and implicated the Church of Scientology in the attempts to cover up the crime and silence her. Allegations against Masterson have been public for years, and led to his 2017 firing from the Netflix series The Ranch, in which he co-starred with Ashton Kutcher.

At several points, testimony was paused as the woman broke down and had to compose herself.

According to testimony reported by Deadline, Danny Masterson sexually assaulted the woman on two occasions, both possibly involving being drugged with an alcoholic drink. The second assault was a violent rape that left her with bruises and other injuries. She said during trial testimony on Wednesday that Masterson also threatened her if she told anyone, and brandished a gun during the threats.

The Danny Masterson trial has put the spotlight on the Church of Scientology, who reputation has come under fire in recent years over allegations they cover up misdeeds and felony crimes by celebrities who are members of their church. The judge in the case has had to limit accusations against the church during testimony, attempting to keep the focus on Masterson himself. An attempt to limit the church’s involvement in civil and criminal trials surrounding the cases even went to the Supreme Court.

Jane Doe #1 also detailed that she was paid $400,000 to stay silent on the allegations against Danny Masterson, especially after she reported the assaults to the Los Angeles Police Department in 2004. She reported the assaults to an “Ethics Officer” within the church, who she says attempted to cover up the matter and threatened to have her and her young daughter ostracized from the church, according to trial testimony. She says she was paid the hush money after being forced by church lawyers to sign an NDA, preventing her from talking to police about the sexual assults.

Danny Masterson The Ranch
Danny Masterson in The Ranch (2017)

The woman, whose family were all members of the church, initially stayed silent about the sexual assaults by Danny Masterson, telling only one friend, who was not a church member. She later learned of at least four other women who said they were sexually assaulted by the actor, who was finally arrested in 2020 on charges of rape and sexual assault and is now on trial, nearly two decades after the fact.

The 46-year old actor, who is married to Bijou Phillips, is also facing a civil lawsuit from four women who claim they were harassed and threatened by the Church of Scientology after they accused Danny Masterson of misconduct and assault. A judge had initially ruled the civil case could be handled within the Church of Scientology, but that was later overturned by an appeals court and will now be heard as a Los Angeles civil trial open to the public.

The Danny Masterson trial could last another month, as a number of witnesses have yet to testify, which may include Lisa Marie Presley. It is believed Presley knew the individuals involved and may have first-hand knowledge of the alleged rape. Masterson, who denied the accusations and said the encounters were consensual, could face a sentence of 45 years to life in prison if he is found guilty.