What the Danny Masterson Trial Reveals About Scientology

Three women who have accused That '70s Show actor Danny Masterson of rape say the Church of Scientology is the reason they did not come forward sooner.

Masterson, who is a member of the church, has been charged with three counts of rape by force or fear. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The accusations against the church came during four days of preliminary hearings at the Los Angeles Superior Court to determine whether the 45-year-old actor will have to stand trial.

One woman alleged Masterson raped her while she was unconscious in 2001.

She testified that she was instructed by a church official to "take responsibility" in a written statement for the alleged assault.

A second woman, who was born into the church, said the actor allegedly raped her in 2003.

The woman testified that she planned to report Masterson in 2004 to the police but a Scientology lawyer came to her family's home to warn her she would be excommunicated from the church if she went forward.

The publication reports that internal church texts and principles were discussed at length over the course of the four days.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo concluded that Scientology contains "an expressly written doctrine" that "not only discourages, but prohibits" members from reporting each other to the police.

The court heard former spokesman for the church, Mike Rinder, claim the church does not want its "dirty laundry out into public view."

"The activities of Scientology have been so much a part of the evidence that's being put forth as to why these women were not immediately going to law enforcement," he said.

Church spokeswoman Karin Pouw denied there is any policy that prevents members from reporting crimes committed by other members in statements to the Los Angeles Times.

Pouw added that Judge Charlaine Olmedo's comments were "flat-out wrong" and went on to brand the allegations against Masteron as "nothing more than a money shakedown."

"Church policy explicitly demands Scientologists abide by all laws of the land, including the reporting of crimes," she wrote. "This is blatantly clear in the documents we understand were put before the Court—and many others."

Prior to the preliminary hearing, Masterson's attorney Thomas Mesereau said references to the Church of Scientology should not be allowed in court because he believed it would constitute "religious bias in the most blatant form."

Newsweek has contacted the Church of Scientology for comment.

Danny Masterson pleaded not guilty to rape
Actor Danny Masterson stands with his lawyer Thomas Mesereau as he is arraigned on rape charges at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on September 18, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Masterson has been charged with forcibly raping three women on separate occasions between 2001 and 2003. Masterson pleaded not guilty to rape. Lucy Nicholson/Pool/Getty Images