Danny Masterson has been ordered to stand trial for three counts of rape following accusations from three women, including an ex-girlfriend.
A Los Angeles judge issued the ruling on Friday, May 21, during a preliminary hearing that began earlier this week, during which the accusers testified against him, E! News confirmed. The women have accused the That '70s Show actor of raping them in separate incidents in 2001 and 2003.
This past January, Masterson, 45, pleaded not guilty to three counts of rape by force or fear. His attorney said the actor had consensual sex with the women and that he would prove his client's innocence, the Associated Press reported. If convicted of all charges, Masterson faces up to 45 years in prison.
On Tuesday, May 18, Masterson appeared in court for the preliminary hearing. The actor is a prominent Scientologist and the accusers are former Scientologists. During the hearing, his attorney repeatedly challenged the women about their testimonies and also suggested during the proceedings that the prosecution was tainted by anti-religious bias against the church, the Associated Press reported.
Earlier this week during the preliminary hearing, one of the accusers, identified as Jen B., told the court she did not report her encounter with the actor to police right away because she feared being labeled a "suppressive person" and which she claimed could've caused her to "lose my family and everyone I knew," the Associated Press reported.
Another accuser, identified as Christina B., testified on Wednesday, May 19 that she was five years into a relationship with Masterson when she awoke to find him raping her as she slept, the outlet said,
The accusations against Masterson were first made public several years ago. In March 2017, the LAPD announced it was investigating the actor after three women accused him of sexual assaulting them in the early '00s. In June 2020, he was arrested and charged with forcibly raping three women in separate incidents that allegedly took place between 2001 and 2003. His attorney said at a statement at the time, "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."
After the arrest of Masterson, a prominent Scientologist, his rep said that the "false allegations appear to be motivated to boost Leah Remini's anti-Scientology television series" because one of the accusers "only came forward after connecting with" the actress, a former Church of Scientology member whose A&E series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath debuted the previous year.
Remini would later attend Masterson's arraignment in October 2020 in support of the accusers. At Wednesday's hearing, Jen B. acknowledged filming an interview with Remini for her show because she worried that no charges would be brought against Masterson, and denied she was paid for it, the Associated Press reported, adding that Christina B. denied going to police at the actress' urging.
The criminal case cost Masterson a prominent acting job. In December 2017, he was fired from the Netflix series The Ranch. The actor said in a statement he was "disappointed" by the decision, adding, "From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me."