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Danny Masterson Rape Trial Jury Breaks For Thanksgiving Week After Suggesting They May Be Deadlocked
The judge in the case of "That 70s Show" actor Danny Masterson said that three days of deliberations was not long enough to declare a mistrial.
Jury deliberations in the Danny Masterson rape trial have been put on hold for a week.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo told the jury on Friday that they would have to resume deliberations after the Thanksgiving holiday, over the concerns of Masterson's lawyers, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Jurors had begun deliberations in the case on Wednesday — after the actor's team opted not to call any witnesses — but, on Friday, sent Olmedo a note to say that they were deadlocked on all three counts against the actor.
Olmedo, however, told the jury that they had been "deliberating for an insufficient amount of time" for her to simply declare a deadlock in the case. Instead, she sent them home for a week with the expectation that they would return to court on the Monday after Thanksgiving.
She said that five jurors told the court they couldn't attend deliberations because of their holiday travel plans and family obligations, including child care over the school break, according to Law & Crime.
Masterson's lawyer, Philip Cohen, raised objections to the break, suggesting that jurors could be exposed to other information about the case that might affect their decision.
“My significant concern is sending the jury away for a week given what has been an extensive amount of coverage of this case including lots of things that weren’t necessarily part of the trial," he said, according to Law & Crime.
Olmedo countered that jurors had been instructed to avoid information about the case and not to talk to anyone about their deliberations.
Masterson, 46, has been charged with three counts of forcible rape in connection to alleged incidents that occurred between 2001 and 2003. He has pleaded not guilty in the case.
"Mr. Masterson is innocent, and we're confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify," Masterson's attorney said in a statement at the time of his arrest.
The three victims were all previously members of the Church of Scientology at the time; two testified that they'd reported the assaults to their superiors within the organization at the time and had been discouraged from reporting it. Masterson remains in the church, which has repeatedly said that they do not discourage members from reporting crimes to the police.
The women subsequently left the church, and claim that they'd been subject to acts of retaliation by church members after going to the police in 2016 and 2017.
The three women in the criminal case (and the husband of one of the women) are also suing Masterson and the church over the alleged harassment, the Times reported. They claim in their suit that the organization's agents "surveilled them, hacked their security systems, filmed them, chased them, hacked their email, killed (and attempted to kill) their pets, tapped their phones, incited others to harass them, threatened to kill them, broke their locks, broke into their cars, ran them off the road, posted fake ads purporting to be from them soliciting anal sex from strangers, broke their windows, set the outside of their home on fire, went through their trash, and poisoned trees in their yards."
The church denies the allegations.