Dark for the past two days, Danny Masterson’s rape trial resumed Wednesday with testimony from Jane Doe #2 about the former That ‘70s Show star’s alleged assault of her in 2003. However, before the last of the trio of women at the heart of the case had her time on the stand, the defense accused former Scientologist and The King of Queens star Leah Remini of potentially denying their client a “fair trial.”
“As of November 1, yesterday, Leah Remini has tweeted 36 points about this trial,” attorney Karen Goldstein told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo this morning before the jury had been brought into the downtown courtroom. “She has commented on defense strategy,” the defense lawyer continued, as the transcript this morning from Underground Bunker’s Tony Ortega notes. “She has commented on Scientology,” Goldstein added, using the word the defense has fought tooth and nail to keep out of the criminal proceedings as much as possible.
“She was, at one point, a victim advocate in this case. She was at Jane Doe #1’s interview in 2017. She has met with (LAPD) Detective Vargas multiple times. The tweets emphasize the points made several times…this makes it exceedingly difficult for Mr. Masterson to get a fair trial,” Goldstein said in court, asking to lodge their distress over Remini’s social media activity on the record, which the judge granted.
Now, there is no doubt that the Emmy winning Scientology and the Aftermath host has something to say about her former faith. Since exiting the David Miscavige-run church in 2013, Remini has been a consistent advocate for further probes into the inner workings of Scientology, and the alleged abuses and harsh conditions members are forced to exist under.
Remini’s tweetstorm yesterday put Masterson’s trial in the starkest terms possible, which is probably why the longtime Scientologist’s lawyers were pouncing all over them today. “It’s not just about a Hollywood celebrity,” Remini’s 36th tweet in a thread said. “It’s about what a multi-billion-dollar cult does to cover up horrifying sex crimes.”
An earlier tweet was directed right at Masterson’s lawyers.
“One of the reasons I want everyone to pay attention to this trial is because Danny’s defense attorney Philip Cohen is doing everything, he can to strip the involvement of Scientology from this trial,” she wrote. “Scientology policies and the actions of Scientology’s top officials should mean that Scientology should be a co-defendant in this trial. Everything that has happened in this case is largely due to Scientology’s criminal policies.”
While Scientology is not a defendant in this criminal trial the way they are a co-defendant with Masterson in a currently paused civil trial, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office has certainly made a repeated point of going over at length before the jurors the role church officials seemingly played with the alleged victims, all Scientologists at the time of their respective assaults in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Since testimony started October 18, Olmedo has constantly said that “Scientology is not on trial” here. However, the judge has allowed testimony on experiences with the church by the Jane Does in so far as it is tailored to their “state of mind” on the matter at hand. At the same time, as Remini tweeted, Cohen and Goldstein have worked to limit any testimony on Scientology to the bare minimum.
First arrested by the LAPD in 2020 and free on just over $3 million in bail ever since, Masterson is facing a possible maximum sentence of 45 years to life in California state prison if found guilty. The actor, who subsequently was fired from Netflix’s comedy The Ranch at the end of 2017 as claims became known, always has denied he had nonconsensual sex with the alleged victims or anyone else.
In a full and fairly fast day of testimony from Jane Doe #2, Scientology certainly came up as the former church member described to Deputy DA Reinhold Mueller. Going by the initials NT, Jane Doe #2 illustrated the fear she felt if she went to the police over the alleged rape at Masterson’s Hollywood Hills home 19 years ago. “My understanding is that I would be excommunicated, lose my standing, all my community, all my friends, any family, that I would be expelled and declared a suppressive person and seen as evil,” Jane Doe #2 told Mueller and the jury, revealing that she had been assaulted by another church member several months before.
In that instance, NT said the Scientology official she spoke to about the rape “vehemently disagreed and the chaplain showed me policy about, that made it clear to me from what I read, that I was not allowed to think that about another member or to report it to law enforcement.”
In terms of Masterson, Jane Doe #2 said today on the stand that the actor in 2003 “was like a predator, and as an adult woman, you have plenty of time to see these distinctions between someone having affinity for you and someone targeting you as a piece of meat.” Recounting the alleged rape when she was in her early 20s, NT said after Masterson gave her a glass of wine that made her feel “numb,” the actor all but ignored her pleas for them not to have sex as he moved her from his jacuzzi to the upstairs shower to the bedroom. According to NT, Masterson “flipped me over on the bed fast, and he started pounding me from behind.”
“He was raping me,” the witness continued. “I was shocked, and I was like ‘Oh my God, what are you doing? I told you not to do that,’” Jane Doe #2 said to the courtroom.
While many elements of her testimony resembled that of Jane Doe #1/Jen B and Jane Doe #3/CB from earlier in the trial, Jane Doe #2’s time on the stand was unlike that of her predecessors. Jen B testified for almost four days and CB testified for three straight days. Perhaps indicative of those harrowing stints, NT was questioned by the prosecutors, cross-examined by the defense and more in just one day.
During the closing minutes of that testimony, under redirect from Mueller, Jane Doe #2 admitted that in 2017 she told the LAPD she had several conversations with the other two Jane Does. “We were all really scared,” she said.
The trial continues Thursday and is expected to conclude around November 19.