The actor, who has been in custody since May, maintains his innocence and his attorneys plan to appeal.
A Los Angeles judge sentenced “That ’70s Show” show star Danny Masterson to 30 years to life in prison on Thursday for raping two women in 2003.
Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo handed down the decision to the 47-year-old Masterson after hearing statements from the women, and pleas for fairness from defence attorneys.
The punishment was the maximum allowed by law. It means Masterson will be eligible for parole after serving 25 years and six months of the sentence, but can be held in prison for life.
The actor, who has been in custody since May, sat in court wearing a suit and watched the women without visible reaction as they spoke. He maintains his innocence and his attorneys plan to appeal.
“I know that you’re sitting here steadfast in your claims of innocence, and thus no doubt feeling victimized by a justice system that has failed you,” Olmedo told Masterson before handing down the sentence. “But Mr. Masterson, you are not the victim here. Your actions 20 years ago took away another person’s voice, and choice. One way or another you will have to come to terms with your prior actions, and their consequences.”
Church of Scientology
Prosecutors alleged that Masterson used his prominence in the Church of Scientology - where all three women were also members at the time - to avoid consequences for decades after the attacks, and the women blamed the church for their hesitancy in going to police about Masterson.
At the sentencing hearing, one of the women, who like Masterson was born into the church, said she was shunned and ostracised for going to authorities in 2004.
The church said in a statement after the trial that it has “no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of anyone - Scientologists or not - to law enforcement.” It has also denied ever harassing any of the women.
“That ’70s Show”
Masterson starred with Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace in “That ’70s Show” from 1998 until 2006.
He had reunited with Kutcher on the 2016 Netflix comedy “The Ranch,” but was written off the show when the Los Angeles Police Department investigation was revealed the following year.
While that investigation began before a wave of women shook Hollywood with stories about Harvey Weinstein in October 2017, the conviction and sentencing of Masterson still represents a major #MeToo era success for Los Angeles prosecutors, along with the conviction of Weinstein himself last year.