- 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)
Netflix Launches “Fast Laughs,” a TikTok-Like Feed of Funny Clips
- Netflix has created a TikTok-style feature it calls “Fast Laughs,” which is currently only available on its iOS mobile app in select countries.
- Executives described it as a “new full-screen feed of funny clips from a wide variety of Netflix titles, ranging from films and series to our deep bench of stand-up specials.”
- The clips can be shared on social media, and if users stumble across something they want to see more of, they can save that title to watch later or play it immediately.
Netflix Announces “Fast Laughs”
Netflix is now the latest platform to introduce its own TikTok-like feature.
On Thursday, the company announced “Fast Laughs,” which is currently only available on its iOS mobile app in select countries.
It essentially looks like TikTok, but Patrick Flemming, director of product innovation at Netflix, told The Verge it is a “new full-screen feed of funny clips from a wide variety of Netflix titles, ranging from films and series to our deep bench of stand-up specials.”
In its announcement blog post, Netflix said, “You access the feed through your bottom navigation menu by clicking on the Fast Laughs tab. Clips will start playing – when one ends another begins, to keep the laughs coming.“
If a user stumbles across a scene they want to see more of, they can save that title to watch later or play it immediately if they’d like. They can also share the clips individually on Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
Could It Really Rival TikTok?
Adding this TikTok-style feature may seem surprising since Netflix is a streaming service rather than a social media platform.
However, Netflix’s last few earnings reports have actually referenced TikTok as a major competitor. It’s not because they make the same style of content but instead because people are spending more time on TikTok – which for some means less time on Netflix.
While “Fast Laughs” might not compete with TikTok the way some other copycats hope to, some believe it’s an interesting way to highlight the huge library of content the site offers.
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Tech Crunch) (USA Today)
Court Sides With Sofia Vergara, Says Ex Cannot Use Embryos Without Permission
- A Los Angeles court sided with actress Sofia Vergara on Tuesday, ruling that her ex-fiance Nick Loeb cannot use their embryos without her consent.
- The court cited a document the former couple had signed agreeing that both parties needed to approve the use of the embryos, arguing that the document could not be void.
- In a response, Loeb appeared to plug his new movie, saying the judge was “clearly influenced by Hollywood, which is a pattern I expose in my upcoming film Roe v. Wade.”
- Loeb had been trying to obtain custody of the embryos for many years and even argued in a Louisiana court that they should be treated as humans with rights, though the case was dismissed.
Court Sides With Sofia Vergara
Los Angeles County Superior Court sided with actress Sofia Vergara Tuesday, ruling that her ex-fiance could not use their embryos without her permission.
Vergara has been involved in a court battle with her ex, Nick Loeb, for several years. The two split in 2014 and had reportedly undergone in vitro fertilization within a year before their break up.
Loeb had been fighting to use those embryos on his own via a surrogate. According to TMZ, he at one point tried to take custody of them through a trust and named the embryos in a lawsuit. He also argued in a Louisiana court that the embryos should be recognized as humans with rights. The court dismissed that case in January and said Loeb was “forum shopping” for a court that might agree with his argument. At the time, his team said he would appeal their decision.
People Magazine obtained court documents from the Los Angeles court’s ruling, which granted Vergara’s request for a permanent injunction preventing Loeb from using the embryos “to create a child without the explicit written permission of the other person.”
Loeb Responds to Ruling
The court cited a document the former couple both signed at a fertility clinic, agreeing that both parties had to approve of any use of the embryos. Loeb tried to argue that he signed it under “duress” but the court still said that their agreement was not voidable based on that defense.
Loeb also tried to argue that he and the Modern Family actress had an “oral agreement” that would allow him to use the embryos on his own terms, but court said there was no “material fact” to support this.
According to People, Loeb issued a statement that plugged his new movie after the ruling. He said the judge “was clearly influenced by Hollywood, which is a pattern I expose in my upcoming film Roe v. Wade.”
“It’s sad that Sofia, a devout Catholic, would intentionally create babies just to kill them,” he continued.
Vergara’s team has not yet issued a statement on the case.
See what others are saying: (TMZ) (People) (Entertainment Tonight)
Chris D’Elia Accused of Soliciting Child Pornography in New Lawsuit
- Comedian Chris D’Elia was sued in California on Tuesday for sexual exploitation and soliciting nude photos from a minor.
- The lawsuit alleges that D’Elia “constructed a manipulative, controlling, and abusive dynamic” in order to get dozens of nude photos from a girl he knew was 17 at the time.
- It also says he invited the minor to his hotel room before one of his shows, where she performed sexual acts at his request.
- D’Elia’s spokesperson denied the accusations, which come just two weeks after D’Elia addressed months-old claims that he had sexually harassed underage women. He claimed sex “controlled” his life and admitted to having “a problem” but maintained all his relationships had been consensual and legal.
Chris D’Elia Accused of Soliciting Child Pornography
A federal lawsuit filed in the Central District of California on Tuesday accuses comedian Chris D’Elia of sexual exploitation and soliciting nude photos from a minor.
The allegations stem from 2014 when Jane Doe, now 24, was just 17-years-old. The lawsuit says D’Elia, who would have been 34 at the time, “constructed a manipulative, controlling, and abusive dynamic” in order to solicit the photos and pressure Doe into sexual encounters.
According to Doe, their interactions began in September of that year when she contacted him on Instagram, thinking he would never reply. D’Elia, however, allegedly responded to her message right away and asked her to come to one of his shows. When she agreed to see him perform at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, she says they exchanged information on Snapchat.
Once the two started communicating on Snapchat, the lawsuit claims that the messages D’Elia sent “became sexual very quickly.” He allegedly started to ask for nude photos of her, and if she did not reply, he would persist. While she tried to avoid sending the photos, the lawsuit claims he was “aggressive.” She eventually sent him 5-10 explicit photos before she met him.
According to the lawsuit, when D’Elia came to perform in Connecticut in November, he invited Doe to his room before the show. Because she was nervous about the situation, Doe brought a friend with her, but D’Elia allegedly demanded that the friend leave or else he would not let Doe inside.
Doe’s friend left and the lawsuit claims that D’Elia then began to request sexual favors from Doe within minutes of her arrival. It alleges that the two had sex while D’Elia knew her age. It even adds that during the acts, he repeatedly asked her to tell him she was 17 and still in high school, with him allegedly saying that this was “hot.”
Doe says that he invited her back to his hotel after the show and they had sex again. After this, she says she left feeling “disgusting and defeated.” The lawsuit says this was her first sexual encounter of any kind and she had not even kissed anyone prior to meeting him, leaving her unsure what to think or do in the situation.
Over the following months, the lawsuit claims that D’Elia would limit his communication with Doe as a tactic to pry more photos out of her. It says he would demand she send explicit photos or he would unfollow her on social media until she compiled. The lawsuit says that over the course of six to seven months, she sent him over 100 explicit photos and videos, roughly half of which were taken while she was a minor.
The lawsuit says Doe “suffered significant emotional, physical, and psychological harm as a direct result of Defendant D’Elia’s predatory conduct.”
D’Elia Says He “Has A Problem”
These allegations come nearly nine months after several women accused him of sexual harassment and predatory behavior. Many said they were underage at the time he harassed them.
After months of silence, D’Elia recently addressed those allegations in a 10-minute video on February 19. He apologized and said he had been seeking help.
“I mean sex, it controlled my life,” he said. “It was the focus, my focus, all the time. And I had a problem. I do have a problem.”
However, he denied ever breaking the law in his sexual encounters.
“I stand by the fact that all my relationships have been consensual and legal,” he said.
A spokesperson for the comedian told the Los Angeles Times that the accusations in the lawsuit are false.
“Chris denies these allegations and will vigorously defend against them in court,” they said.
Jane Doe is seeking unspecified damages.