American actor Danny Masterson drugged women’s drinks so he could rape them before relying on his prominence in the Church of Scientology to avoid the consequences, a jury has been told in closing arguments at his trial.
Masterson, a former star of the hit US sitcom That 70s Show, is on trial for rape for a second time after the first ended in a mistrial in December, with a jury deadlocked on all counts.
Prosecution lawyer Ariel Anson told the jury: “The defendant drugs his victims to gain control. He does this to take away his victims’ ability to consent.
“You don’t want to have sex? You don’t have a choice. The defendant makes that choice for these victims. And he does it over and over and over again.”
The 47-year-old has pleaded not guilty to raping three women at his home between 2001 and 2003.
His lawyer Philip Cohen told jurors that inconsistencies in the women’s stories are important to consider.
“[Ms Anson] did a very nice job of ignoring many of them,” Mr Cohen said. “What she views as little inconsistencies are at the heart of trying to determine if somebody is reliable, credible, believable enough for a criminal conviction?”
Ms Anson took aim at the controversial Church of Scientology, of which Masterson is a member and all three women are former members, throughout her argument.
She emphasized that church authorities kept the women from accepting what had happened to them and from reporting it to police for years.
“The church taught his victims ‘rape isn’t rape, you caused this, and above all, you are never allowed to go to law enforcement’,” she said.
“In Scientology, the defendant is a celebrity and he is untouchable.”
The church has denied having any policy discouraging members from going to law enforcement.