- Danny Masterson was charged with three counts of rape and could face 45 years to life in prison if found guilty.
- Allegations against him have been public for years, though Masterson has repeatedly denied them. In 2017 he lost his job on Netflix’s “The Ranch” after the LAPD opened an investigation into the claims.
- Masterson is a Scientologist, and his accusers claim the Church of Scientology pressured and threatened them into keeping quiet.
- Leah Remini, actress and former member of the church, said that the charges against Masterson are just the beginning of what the church is covering up.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced that actor Danny Masterson was charged with rape on Wednesday.
Allegations against the “That ’70s Show” actor have been floating for several years. In 2017, it was revealed that the Los Angeles Police Department was investigating the matter, resulting in the actor getting fired from “The Ranch” on Netflix. He is now facing three counts of rape by force or fear.
According to a statement from the D.A.’s office, Masterson was accused of raping a 23-year-old woman between January and December of 2001, a 28-year-old woman in April of 2003, and another 23-year-old woman between October and December of 2003. Those crimes all took place at his home, according to Reinhold Mueller, the Deputy District Attorney of the Sex Crimes Division who is prosecuting this case.
As part of their investigation, the LAPD looked into two other sexual assault allegations against him but declined to press charges. They cited insufficient evidence for one case and the statute of limitations for the other. If Masterson is found guilty of three charges against him, he could face a possible maximum sentence of 45 years to life in prison.
Masterson was arrested and booked on Wednesday afternoon, records from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department show. He was released later that day after posting a bond of $3.3 million. His arraignment is set for September.
Masterson Defends Himself
Masterson’s attorney, Tom Mesereau released a statement defending his client against the charges.
“We’re confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify,” Mesereau said.
“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.”
Masterson has also repeatedly denied the allegations as they have surfaced. When they cost him his job on “The Ranch,” he released a statement calling them “outrageous.”
“Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit,” he said at the time. “I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. In this country, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused.”
He was fired in December 2017, just a few months after the fallout of the claims against convicted rapist and film mogul Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein’s fall resulted in the rise of the #MeToo movement, as well as a reckoning of the way women are treated in Hollywood.
Reports of Cover Up From Scientology
Masterson’s case has made regular headlines largely in part due to his relationship with the Church of Scientology, of which he is a prominent member. Some of the women who have come out and accused Masterson were also Scientologists at the time of the alleged assaults.
In 2017, Tony Ortega, a blogger and journalist who frequently writes about Scientology, reported that some of Masterson’s victims said that the church had pressured them to keep quiet about their claims. In some cases, they say they were punished by the church for speaking out.
His report stemmed from several LAPD documents he obtained. In one, a woman only identified as Victim A said the church threatened her after she reported the case to them.
“They threatened me that if I ever told anyone or reported him to the police that I would be declared a ‘suppressive person’ and lose everything and everyone,” she said. “Then they put me on a massive ethics program as punishment. My rapist was not punished at all. They didn’t even call him to talk about it. I ended up breaking up with him two months later.”
The women also claimed that the LAPD was “compromised” by its relationship with the Church of Scientology. Victim A said there were known “leaks” in certain branches, and added that a detective acknowledged that “some LAPD officers are very friendly with the church of Scientology.”
The Church of Scientology has denied ever pressuring these women to keep quiet. These claims, however, were brought up again in 2019 when four women sued Masterson and the church, claiming they had been stalked and intimidated after reporting him. This lawsuit was first reported on by Variety, which wrote that the women had allegedly been followed by agents of the Church of Scientology. One plaintiff said she was chased in her car by two people filming her. Shortly after, her dog inexplicably died after suffering from “traumatic injuries to her trachea and esophagus.”
The women also reported facing online harassment, being targeted for credit card fraud, and having their home security systems hacked. Another plaintiff said she had been followed and photographed, even while on vacation, and that her teenage son’s window was smashed in the middle of the night. The food truck she owned was also vandalized.
Leah Remini Responds
Allegations of corruption and threatening behavior against the Church of Scientology are nothing new. Much of this gained national attention when actress Leah Remini, who used to be a Scientologist, left the church and dedicated much of her life and career to exposing its inner workings. Her series “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” won several accolades, including Emmy Awards.
Upon learning about the charges filed against Masterson, Remini celebrated on Twitter
“This is just the beginning Scientology, your days of getting away with it is coming to an end,” she wrote.
Remini also shared a piece that Ortega published on Thursday morning titled: “How will Scientology react to Danny Masterson being charged with rape?” In the piece, Ortega spoke to Mike Rinder, who used to be a senior executive of the Church of Scientology International but left the church more than a decade ago.
“They have to be careful. If they throw him under the bus and alienate him he could cause a lot of trouble for them,” Rinder said. “They might want to keep him close so they can keep all their stories straight. There are many, many people who have their fingerprints all over this, as the first place the rapes were reported was to Scientology and they did everything possible to ensure it did not get reported to the authorities.”
See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (New York Times) (Associated Press)
Britney Spears Asks For Privacy After Fans Called Cops to Conduct a Wellness Check on Her
Fans said they were concerned after the singer deleted her Instagram account.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was updated to include a statement from Britney Spears
Fans Call 911
Britney Spears said her fans “went a little too far” after some called the police to conduct a wellness check on her.
The fans, many fueled by online conspiracy theories, were concerned about Spears because she deleted her Instagram account. While this is something the singer has done multiple times in the past, her fans thought she had left secret signals in her last post suggesting she needed help.
Some even posted videos of them calling emergency services on TikTok, a platform that is full of conspiracy videos about Spears.
“I love and adore my fans but this time things went a little too far and my privacy was invaded,” Spears wrote in a statement on Thursday, citing “prank phone calls” that were made to police.
According to Spears, officers did not enter her home because once they got to her gate, they “quickly realized there was no issue and left immediately.”
“This felt like I was being gaslit and bullied once the incident made it to the news and being portrayed once again in a poor and unfair light by the media,” Spears continued. “During this time in my life, I truly hope the public and my fans who I care so much about can respect my privacy moving forward.”
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Ventura County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to Page Six that the department “did get calls into our dispatch” but added there was no reason to believe that Spears was “in any kind of harm or any kind of danger.”
That spokesperson declined to say if officials contacted Spears or conducted a wellness check, citing privacy and public trust issues.
The Prominence of Britney Spears Conspiracies
Just over a year has passed since Spears was freed from a highly restrictive conservatorship that controlled her life and finances for 13 years. Throughout the conservatorship, fans tried to use the pop icon’s social media to pick up clues that she was secretly struggling. She did not publicly speak about the conservatorship until the summer of 2021.
Now that she has her freedom, fans are still reading heavily into her posts. Some believe there are hidden messages in her captions and in the gestures she does while dancing. Others think she is dead, missing, or hiding and that a body double is being used in her posts. Some are so concerned that they are coordinating a mass effort to pressure the Los Angeles Times into investigating Spears’ whereabouts and safety.
In the last several years, many have reflected on Spears’ early days in the spotlight and the cruel ways she was harassed and targeted by paparazzi, news outlets, and culture at large. Often the punchline to a joke throughout the 2000s, many now sympathize with Spears, who was forced to endure heavy public scrutiny at a young age. Documentaries like “Framing Britney Spears” prompted many to see Spears as a victim of abusive media tactics, not the “crazy” woman tabloids painted her to be.
Many are now concerned that fans are only going to subject Spears to a new onslaught of harassment by calling the police to her house. Even if the conspiracy theories are technically well-intentioned and often come from a place of concern, some believe they will jumpstart a media frenzy that could harm Spears’ mental well-being.
Razzies Apologize For Nominating 12-Year-Old, Adopt Age Rules For Future Nominations
The group’s founder said the Razzies regret “any hurt” the young actress may have “experienced as a result of our choices.”
Razzies Face Backlash
The Razzie Awards revoked its “insensitive” nomination of 12-year-old Ryan Kiera Armstrong and added new guidelines banning child performers from being nominated in the future.
The Razzies, which award the year’s worst movies, included Armstrong in its “Worst Actress” lineup for her role in “Firestarter.” Bryce Dallas Howard, Diane Keaton, Kaya Scodelario, and Alicia Silverstone were also nominated in the category.
Armstrong starred alongside Zac Efron in “Firestarter,” an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name. The picture received a 10% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
While the film was broadly panned, many thought it was a bridge too far to nominate a child for a bad acting award.
“The Razzies are already mean-spirited & classless, but to nominate a kid is just repulsive & wrong,” child star Julian Hilliard, best known for his work in “WandaVision,” tweeted. “Why put a kid at risk of increased bullying or worse? Be better.”
Actor and podcast host Brandon Hardesty said the nomination was “completely ignorant and cynical.”
“They have no clue what this can do to a child actress who probably considered her starring role in FIRESTARTER as a high point in her life,” he wrote.
“That girl was the best part of that mess of a movie,” film critic Shannon McGrew tweeted. “And on top of that, no kid should ever be nominated for an award that punches down on them.”
Razzies founder John Wilson addressed the backlash in a statement to the press on Wednesday, calling the criticism “valid.”
“Sometimes, you do things without thinking, Then you are called out for it. Then you get it,” Wilson said. “It’s why the Razzies were created in the first place.”
“We have removed Armstrong’s name from the Final Ballot that our members will cast next month,” he continued. “We also believe a public apology is owed Ms. Armstrong, and wish to say we regret any hurt she experienced as a result of our choices.”
In addition to removing Armstrong’s nomination, The Razzies is now adopting “a Voting Guideline precluding any performer or film-maker under 18 years of age from being considered” for awards.
“Since our motto is ‘Own Your Bad,’ we realize that we ourselves must also live up to it,” the statement closed.
While Armstrong will be the last child to nab a Razzie nomination, she was far from the first. Jake Lloyd made the list for his turn as young Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” Gary Coleman and Macaulay Culkin also got nominations as teenagers.
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (The Hollywood Reporter) (People)
SeatGeek CEO Calls to Break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation in Senate Hearing Following Taylor Swift Debacle
“A lack of robust competition in our industry meaningfully stunts innovation, and consumers are who suffer,” Jack Groetzinger said.
Two months after technical difficulties blocked countless Taylor Swift fans from snagging seats to her tour, a bipartisan group of Senators held a hearing to re-examine the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster.
The two entertainment giants merged in 2010. Jack Groetzinger, the CEO of the rival ticket-selling platform SeatGeek, said during Tuesday’s hearing that the two need to be broken up to benefit consumers.
“One, a lack of robust competition in our industry meaningfully stunts innovation, and consumers are who suffer,” he said. “Two, venues fear losing Live Nation concerts if they don’t use Ticketmaster, and three, the only way to restore competition in this industry is to break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) echoed concerns about the lack of competition, arguing that Live Nation is the “definition of monopoly.”
“Live Nation is so powerful that it doesn’t even need to exert pressure, it doesn’t need to threaten, because people just fall in line,” she said.
The Eras Tour Debacle
Ticketmaster has long been accused of price-gouging and complicating the ticket-buying process. Those issues made international headlines in November during the presale for Swift’s highly anticipated Era’s Tour.
Millions of fans who attempted to enter Ticketmaster’s virtual queue walked away empty-handed after experiencing crashes, price inflation, and a myriad of other issues.
According to Ticketmaster, the incredibly high demand, coupled with an onslaught of bot attacks, forced the platform to slow sales down. After the company delayed sales in certain cities and canceled the general sale altogether, Swift called the ordeal “excruciating.”
“We asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could,” she wrote on Instagram in November.
The controversy prompted many to accuse Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, of holding a monopoly over the concert and live events industry. The U.S. Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into the entertainment giant.
Ticketmaster Takes Heat
Ticketmaster has repeatedly tried to blame a number of factors for the failed Swift presale, even at one point suggesting the sale was too popular because the “Anti-Hero” singer waited so long to tour.
“May I suggest, respectfully, that Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the problem, it’s me,’” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said during the hearing.
Still, the company continued to point the finger at record-breaking bot attacks.
“We knew bots would attack at onsale and planned accordingly. We were then hit with three times the amount of bot traffic that we’d ever experienced,” Live Nation CFO Joe Berchtold said on Capitol Hill.
“The attack requires [us] to slow down and even pause our sales. This is what led to a terrible consumer experience we deeply regret. We apologize to the fans, we apologize to Miss Swift, we need to do better and we will do better,” he continued.
Others present at the hearing were not happy with Live Nation’s bot defense. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said that she has worked with companies in a variety of industries that deal with bots without these issues.
“You know what, they get bot attacks every single day by the thousands. By the thousands,” she said. “And they have figured it out, but you guys haven’t? This is unbelievable.”
“You can’t blame bots for what happened to Taylor Swift,” JAM Productions CEO Jerry Mickelson added. “There’s more to that story that you’re not hearing.”
According to Mickelson, Ticketmaster can actually stand to benefit from glitchy sales on its platform.
“The process, when it’s slowed down, increases the money that Ticketmaster makes because they make money on fees and as the ticket prices go up due to dynamically priced tickets, Ticketmaster makes more off that,” he claimed. “So it’s to their advantage to slow the process down.”
Outrage against Ticketmaster has become so widespread that Sen. Blumenthal said the company was responsible for “an absolutely stunning achievement.”
“You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause.”