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Actor Danny Masterson must stand trial on 3 rape charges

A judge says “That '70s Show” actor Danny Masterson must stand trial on three counts of rape

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A judge on Friday said “That '70s Show” actor Danny Masterson must stand trial on three counts of rape.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo made the determination in the fourth day of a preliminary hearing where the prosecution laid out its evidence.

That included dramatic and emotional testimony from three women who took the stand to say that Masterson raped them in 2001 and 2003.

Masterson has denied the charges. His attorney, Thomas Mesereau, said that Masterson had consensual sex with the women and he would prove his client's innocence.

During the hearing, Mesereau repeatedly challenged the women on discrepancies in their stories in the years since they said they were raped and suggested that the prosecution was tainted by anti-religious bias against the Church of Scientology.

Masterson is a prominent Scientologist, all three women are former Scientologists, and the church and its teachings came up constantly during testimony.

The 45-year-old actor has been free on bail since his June arrest. He is charged with three counts of rape by force or fear and could get up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

FILE - Danny Masterson arrives at The Unveiling of Seedling's Arts District Headquarters on May 28, 2015, in Los Angeles. Masterson's attorney Thomas Mesereau repeatedly challenged a woman on the witness stand during a hearing on Thursday, May 20, 2021, to determine whether Masterson should stand trial on three counts of rape. He has pleaded not guilty. (Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP, File)