Former That 70’s Show actor Danny Masterson has been charged with raping three women.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced the charges against Masterson on Wednesday and issued a warrant for his arrest. The alleged assaults took place between 2001 and 2003 and involved three women between the ages of 23 and 28. If convicted as charged, Masterson faces a possible maximum sentence of 45 years to life in prison.
Responding to today’s indictment, Masterson’s attorney, Tom Merseau, said in a statement: “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. The people who know Mr. Masterson know his character and know the allegations to be false.”
The Los Angeles Police Department began investigating Masterson in late 2016 after at least four women came forward with allegations of sexual assault. Several of the women also filed a civil lawsuit against Masterson and the Church of Scientology, alleging that they had been “mercilessly stalked” by the Church after going to the police. (Masterson is a devout Scientologist.)
One of Masterson’s accusers is Chrissie Carnell Bixler, the wife of At the Drive-In frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala. In documents filed as part of the civil suit, Bixler said she was run off the road and that a friend of Masterson’s threatened to release nude photos of her. Additionally, two of the couple’s dogs died from mysterious causes“mercilessly stalked”
Bixler, a former member of the Church of Scientology, said when she disclosed her assault to Church officialls, she was told that any reports made to the police would be considered a “High Crime” and that she would then be labeled an SP, or a “suppressive person.”
After Bixler and the other accusers went public with their allegations, Masterson was fired from the Netflix series The Ranch.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against Masterson in connection to two other investigations, one due to insufficient evidence and the other based upon the statute of limitations. Three other victims will get their day in court, however: Masterson’s arraignment has been set for September 18th.