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'That '70s Show' Actor Danny Masterson To Stand Trial On 3 Rape Charges

Danny Masterson
Source: Instagram

Actor Danny Masterson drives to court with wife Bijou Phillips

May. 22 2021, Published 11:56 a.m. ET

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That '70s Show actor Danny Masterson, 45, must stand trial for allegedly committing three rapes nearly 20 years ago, a judge on Friday, May 21, ruled. But Masterson doesn't seem to be taking the serious charges to seriously. While most under the same circumstances would be worried, Masterson posted a smiling photo on Instagram earlier this week of him and his wife, Bijou Phillips, driving up to the court house. 

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The caption read, "Had the most beautiful Uber driver drop me off at school today. #uberwife #bijouphillips," with the actor tagging Court House as his location. 

But Masterson, who has pled not guilty, may not be so cool and calm in the coming weeks as three women over three days gave dramatic and graphic testimony that the Hollywood star had allegedly raped them at the height of his fame. 

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Danny Masterson Instagram selfie
Source: Instagram

Accused rapist Danny Masterson and wife Bijou Phillips driving to court.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo ordered Masterson to trial on three counts of rape by force or fear, charges that could land him behind bars for as long as 45 years. According to the judge, the testimony during the preliminary hearing was credible and met the bar for sufficient evidence.

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However, the burden of proof will be much higher for the three victims during the upcoming trial. Masterson's lawyers said they will prove his innocence during the hearing. The defense repeatedly called out the accusers on several discrepancies in their testimony and went as far as to allege they had coordinated their stories.

The alleged rapes took place from 2001-2003 and, according to Masterson's lawyers, it would be impossible to remember specific details of a crime that took place so long ago. "Memories fade and memories change," Masterson attorney Sharon Applebaum said.

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Masterson, surrounded by family and friends, had maintained a carefree poker face during the three-day hearing and had no visible reaction to the judge's decision on Friday. His lead attorney, Thomas Mesereau, who also defended Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby, declined to comment outside the court. 

However, in court Messerau had a lot to say. The famed celebrity defense attorney suggested that police, prosecutors and witnesses were prejudiced by anti-religious bias against the Church of Scientology. Masterson is a noted Scientologist while the alleged victims are former followers of the controversial church. 

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But it may be Scientology's own strict rules that could come back to bite Masterson in court. The judge said that a church document on members not going to police about other members and allowing the institution to mediate instead, "sufficiently explains to this court the hesitancy of these women" from reporting their accusations to the police for years.

Applebaum accused the women of speaking to each other and violating a court order and changing the stories they had initially given to police. "Over time their stories are becoming more similar to one another," she said. "They're taking the language of one another."

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District Attorney Reinhold Mueller disagreed. "These were not rehearsed statements," Mueller said. "They were heartfelt, and they each had their versions of what happened. If there is any consistency in these statements, it was because the defendant was consistent in these acts."

Meanwhile, Masterson, who was arrested back in June, remains free on bail and is ordered to return to court for a new arraignment on June 7. 

Masterson starred as Steven Hyde on Fox TV's mega-hit sitcom That '70s Show from 1998-2006 with fellow cast mates Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Laura Prepon, Wilmer Valderrama and Topher Grace.

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