After three days of deliberating behind closed doors, the jurors in the rape trial of Danny Masterson failed to reach a unanimous decision on any of the three charges against the actor.
Despite the stalemate, Los Angeles County Supreme Court Justice Charlaine Olmedo told the jury on Friday to go ahead and ensure that the weeks-long trial of the ‘That ’70s Show’ actor would continue past the Thanksgiving break .
The jury’s deliberations are secret, but the group’s note to the judge offered a rare glimpse into their thinking, suggesting the 12-member panel could end up as a hung jury in the high-profile rape case.
In her note to the jurors, Olmedo informed the members that they have “deliberated too little time” to determine that they are deadlocked.
Her decision means the jury will return to court on Nov. 28 — after the Thanksgiving holiday — due to travel plans of at least five members.
The extended break is not uncommon, but it did raise concerns from Masterson’s attorney, Philip Cohen.
“My concern, again, is what could happen and the risk that could happen in the next 10 days given the circumstances of this case,” he said in court on Friday.
For weeks, jurors heard testimony from Masterson’s prosecutors, who said the actor violently assaulted them at his Hollywood Hills home in the early 2000s.
Three women, all identified by their first name and last name or initial and last name, testified that Masterson smeared them with alcohol before assaulting them in the bathroom and bedroom of his home.
“Three victims … were violently raped by this defendant, Danny Masterson,” Deputy Dist. Attention. That’s what Reinhold Mueller said in closing arguments on Tuesday, pointing to Masterson sitting across the courtroom. “A man who was in control, and a man for whom ‘no’ never meant ‘no’. ”
The process also delved into the rules and tight-knit community of the Church of Scientology, of which Masterson is a member.
Like Masterson, his three accusers were members of the Church at the time of the alleged rapes. Two of the women testified that they delayed reporting to Masterson for fear that Scientology officials would penalize them for doing so.
In a statement, the church denied protecting Masterson from the allegations and said it does not discourage anyone from reporting crimes against its members.
Olmedo limited testimony about the religion in Masterson’s trial, but Cohen argued that Scientology was the “elephant in the room”.
“We have heard Scientology over and over. … It really became the go-to excuse. If someone forgot something or contradicted something, it was about Scientology,” he said in conclusion.
He tried to convince the jurors that the women’s stories were false and that they had banded together to create false charges against his client.
The prosecutors’ case, he said, “ignored the blatant, obvious, overwhelming contradictions and fabrications every Jane Doe has given you.”
Deliberations in the trial began Wednesday, and Masterson, his friends, relatives and attorneys have been waiting for a decision ever since.
Jurors have reached out twice before, including Thursday to hear transcripts of a woman’s testimony.
On Friday, Cohen said the jury’s lack of questions suggested members had reached a real impasse, and he asked Olmedo to reconsider her decision to continue deliberations.
“It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of confusion,” Cohen told the judge. “It looks like there’s just a big disagreement.”
Olmedo disagreed, saying the jury had already been warned not to discuss the case with anyone or view or read any content about it, even during the holiday season.
Times staff writer Noah Goldberg contributed to this report.