Danny Masterson will be retried on three counts of rape after jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the That ‘70s Show actor's first trial last year.
Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller told the court Tuesday that his office intends to pursue a second trial against Masterson, who is charged with three counts of rape by force or fear for allegedly sexually assaulting three women at his Hollywood Hills home in 2001 and 2003. In November, a judge declared a mistrial after jurors said they were deadlocked on all three charges.
Prosecutors said they plan to retry Masterson on the same counts. Motion hearings are scheduled for March 6 and March 27. Jury selection in the retrial is set to begin March 29.
According to Variety, the jurors had leaned toward acquittal on all three counts, but Mueller argued on Tuesday that the jury had ignored supporting testimony.
“Not giving these victims another chance with a jury who can sit there and consider all of the evidence — win, lose, or draw — that would be an injustice,” Mueller said.
The weekslong trial featured graphic testimony from the three women Masterson was charged with raping and a fourth woman who also accused him of sexual assault, as well as extensive discussion about the Church of Scientology.
Masterson, a prominent Scientologist who is best known for playing Steven Hyde on That '70s Show, attempted to keep the church out of the trial. But the institution and its practices took center stage as the three women, who are all former Scientologists, testified about how church officials allegedly tried to shield the actor from accountability.
In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News on behalf of the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner, two of the women and one of their husbands said they were "completely committed" to participating and testifying in the next trial against Masterson. The firm is representing the individuals in their civil case against Masterson and the Church of Scientology.
"We are pleased that Danny Masterson will not be permitted to simply escape criminal accountability," they said.
Masterson maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings and claimed that he only had consensual sex with the women. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in prison.
His attorneys recently filed court papers asking Judge Charlaine Olmedo to dismiss the charges. They argued that the jury in the first trial believed "there were significant evidentiary and credibility problems" with the prosecutors' case.
"And while there was disagreement as to the ultimate vote, on one thing the jurors all appeared to agree — no reasonable jury was ever going to come to a unanimous finding on guilty on any count," Masterson's attorneys wrote.
According to multiple news outlets, Olmedo denied the request Tuesday, allowing prosecutors to move forward. Jury selection is set to begin on March 29.