A lawyer for That ’70s Show star Danny Masterson accused police of leaking information to the press about the three rape charges the actor is facing.
“This is a high profile case and we believe information has leaked to the press,” said attorney Tom Mesereau on Wednesday, who concluded the leaks could have come from the police or the Los Angeles district attorney’s office.
LA DA assistant Reinhold Mueller quashed the allegation and told LA Supreme Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo, “People are sincerely opposed to suggestions for leaks. There is no evidence for that. ‘
Masterson, 45, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he raped three women in separate incidents at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003.
Danny Masterson – who is a leading Scientologist – did not show up for a preliminary hearing in the criminal court in downtown LA on Wednesday. He is portrayed in court in September
But Masterson’s attorney Tom Mesereau (right) was in court on Wednesday, accusing the police or the Los Angeles district attorney’s office of leaking information to the press.
The actor – who is a prominent Scientologist – did not show up for a preliminary hearing in the criminal court in downtown LA on Wednesday.
But Mesereau was in court where his claim of leaks to the press was part of his motion to ban reporters from Wednesday and future hearings in the case.
Mesereau – who defended Michael Jackson when charged with child molestation – argued that allowing the press to cover the case “ raises the possibility of a fair and open jury pool (a group of local citizens from which a jury is chosen). ).
LA DA assistant Reinhold Mueller (pictured) quashed the claim, telling LA Superior Court judge, ‘People sincerely object to leak suggestions’
“We try to prevent potential jurors from reading obscene or negative messages about Masterson. The jury pool could be infected. ‘
Judge Olmedo denied Mesereau’s motion, telling him, “The size of the Los Angeles jury pool is extraordinary, one of the largest in the nation… .. big enough not to be contaminated (by publicity).
She added that since Hollywood is in the county of LA, “We are not unused to any high-profile defendants.
“I think the media has the right to be in court.”
While Mesereau lost his bid to kick reporters out of court, the veteran attorney won another battle to get Masterson to keep his passport.
Assistant DA Mueller asked the judge to order Masterson to surrender his passport, saying, “Given the high profile of the case and the potential exposure, if Mr. Masterson left the country, there would be concerns about his return.”
But Judge Olmedo rejected Mueller’s request, telling the court that the $ 3.3 million bail for which the star has been released since his arrest last June, “is enough to secure Mr. Masterson’s appearance in the future.” .
The judge scheduled another hearing for April 20.
Chrissie Bixler dated Masterson for a number of years and claims he would have sex with her forcibly and turned violent when she refused. She says her dog died mysteriously after reporting him (pictured together in 2000)
Bobette Riales and Masterson dated from 2002-2004, during which time Masterson allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted her. She claims she was stalked by the church after coming forward with charges (pictured together in 2003)
Under normal, non-pandemic circumstances, a person faced with such serious charges should be present at their arraignment and preliminary hearing.
But Masterson was able to skip court on Wednesday under a special 19 Covid waiver that allows suspects not to appear in person.
At one of several previous hearings, Mesereau claimed the charges against Masterson were “ politically motivated ” by then-LA attorney Jackie Lacey, who used this celebrity case to help her win reelection last November. But Lacey lost to challenger George Gascon.
Mesereau tried to dismiss the rape charges, alleging that the alleged crimes exceeded the statute of limitations, a “ lack of due diligence ” in the police investigations, some witnesses are dead, and others have faded memories.
But another judge – who ruled that the rape allegations do not fall under the statute of limitations – denied the motion to dismiss the charges.
Masterson – who has been married to actress and model Bijou Phillips since 2011 – is accused of raping a 23-year-old woman between January and December 2001, raping a 28-year-old woman in April 2003, and raping another 23 years . old woman between October and December 2003.
He was also charged with sexual assault in two other cases, but the prosecutor’s office said they refused to press charges, one for insufficient evidence and the other based on the statute of limitations.
In 2019, four women – including the three alleged victims in the criminal case – filed a civil lawsuit against Masterson, alleging he drugged, raped, and sexually assaulted them in the early 2000s.
The lawsuit also named the Church of Scientology and its leader David Miscavige as defendants, claiming that the women were stalked in a “conspiracy to cover up that Daniel Masterson had sexually assaulted four young women.”
Two of the women named in the suit were Masterson’s ex-girlfriends – Chrissie Bixler and Bobette Riales – while the other two are listed as Jane Does.
Bixler is supported by actress Leah Remini, a former Scientologist who has left the religion and is now one of its harshest critics, campaigning fiercely against it with a reality TV show called Scientology and the Aftermath. Remini was at the hearing of Masterson’s criminal court last October.
Leah Remini and Danny Masterson in 2009. She has long spoken out against Scientology and supports the alleged victims of Masterson
Masterson – who played the wise-cracking Steven Hyde on That ’70s Show from 1998 to 2006 – called the lawsuit against him and the Church of Scientology a “ disgraceful cash grab.’ ‘
In the civil trial, the alleged victims’ attorney said: “ When those women came forward to report Masterson’s crimes, the defendants (the Church of Scientology) conspired and systematically stalked, harassed, violated the privacy of them and their families. and deliberately made them emotional. need to silence and intimidate them. ‘
Masterson – who played the wise-cracking Steven Hyde on That ’70s Show from 1998 to 2006 – called the lawsuit against him and the Church of Scientology a “disgraceful money grab.”
In a statement to DailyMail.com, the Church of Scientology called the lawsuit “baseless” and the claims “ludicrous and sham.”
‘It is a dishonest and hallucinatory publicity stunt. Leah Remini takes advantage of these people as pawns in her scam to make money, ”says the church.
In December, a judge ruled that because three of the four women accusing Masterson are or were Scientologists, they should resolve their lawsuit through Church of Scientology arbitration.
The judge has yet to decide whether the fourth woman can bring her case to court.