American actor, Danny Masterson, known for his role in That ’70s Show, must stand trial on three counts of rape, a judge said on Friday May 21.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge, Charlaine F. Olmedo ordered Masterson to trial on three counts of rape by force or fear, charges that could get him up to 45 years in prison.
This comes after three days of emotional testimony from three women who said the actor Danny Masterson raped them nearly 20 years ago
Judge Charlaine said she found the women’s testimony credible for the purposes of the preliminary hearing, where the bar for sufficient evidence is significantly lower than it will be at the forthcoming trial.
Masterson has pleaded not guilty with his lawyers saying they would prove his innocence.
During the hearing, they repeatedly challenged the women on discrepancies in stories. They 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, as well as its teachings, reportedly came up during testimony.
The lawyers said the age of the incidents, which date from 2001 and 2003, made accurate memories impossible.
“Memories fade and memories change,” Masterson attorney Sharon Appelbaum said.
The judge said she found the women’s explanations credible that church teachings kept them from reporting their accusations to the police for years.
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.