Thứ Năm, Tháng Sáu 1, 2023
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Scientology comes out wide, as jurors decide Danny Masterson’s fate in second rape trial

Every woman who has accused Danny Masterson of raping them in the early 2000s says they fear two things: the once-beloved sitcom actor’s violent outbursts and the life-changing consequences they have may have to face against the mighty Church of Scientology.

The controversial conviction was not the defendant in Masterson’s second trial for rape. But its doctrines, the conduct of its members, and even the church’s attorneys emerged in two weeks of testimonies.

“Like all predators, the defendant carefully sought out his prey. … Most of his victims were members of the Church of Scientology, and that makes sense,” said Los Angeles County Deputy. Atty. Ariel Anson said during her final debate on Tuesday. “The church tells its victims: ‘Rape is not rape. You caused this. And on top of that, you can’t go to law enforcement.’”

Scientology officials said the church has no policy that prohibits or discourages members from reporting offenses to law enforcement.

It’s been almost six years since Masterson was first accused of publicly sexually assaulting three women at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003, during the height of his fame playing Steven Hyde. clever in “That ’70s Show”.

The accusers – identified in court as Chrissy B., Jen B. and N. Trout – all described growing dizzy and losing control after being served drinks by Masterson, whom they allege groped and eventually raped them while they were unconscious. .

Chrissy B. is Masterson’s longtime girlfriend. She testified to the abuse several times, but the trial referred to only one case in which she alleges that in 2001, Masterson drugged her after a meal at La Poubelle in Franklin Village. . Later, she alleges, she woke up beside Masterson in excruciating pain with no memory of what had happened.

Jen B. and N. Trout allege they were abused and assaulted at Masterson’s lavish mansion after nights out drinking with him in Hollywood. Jen B. accused Masterson of holding a gun and suffocating her with a pillow during the attack.

Anson said Trout accused Masterson of assaulting her so forcefully that she vomited and then begged him to at least put on a condom if he “didn’t stop,” Anson said.

Masterson has denied any wrongdoing. He did not testify at both trials and his defense team did not present any witnesses during the recent proceedings. Defense attorneys Phillip Cohen and Shawn Holley relied primarily on cross-examination and arguments to try to discredit each accuser.

On Tuesday, Cohen meticulously outlined the discrepancy between the women’s testimony in court and their statements to police, while repeatedly noting that prosecutors had no witnesses. for any assault or forensic evidence to prove Masterson drugged them.

He questioned why Chrissy B. had consensual sex and shared a hotel room with Masterson after the rape.

And he asked, “Why do we hear so much about Scientology? Could there be a lot of other problems with the government case?

Prosecutors are expected to finish dismissing Cohen’s testimony by Wednesday morning, and then the case will be turned over to a grand jury.

Masterson met each woman through the church. Each of the women alleges that Scientology officials either told them they were not raped or barred them from reporting the assaults to the police.

Church-affiliated people sometimes argue with critics of Scientology in the hallway outside the courtroom. Renowned former Scientist Leah Remini has appeared several times in support of the accusers.

A Scientology group that says they are fighting discrimination against the church began attacking Remini on Twitter after news of her presence at the open debates became public in September. before. Some reporters covered the trial has said that the church was “targeting” them.

And last week, accusers and prosecutors began bringing allegations of inappropriate behavior against a church attorney.

First, one of the accusers said Vicki Podderesky, who is working as an outside consultant for Scientology, made gestures from the gallery intended to intimidate her.

Several days later, Deputy District. Atty. Reinhold Mueller said Podderesky was in possession of “a large amount of people’s discoveries,” which she attached to a complaint emailed to senior officials in the district attorney’s office about the conduct of a LAPD witness.

“Those were text messages that we edited and turned to defence between law enforcement and the victims who are complaining,” he said.

Mueller called the case “extremely troubling.” Cohen declined to give Podderesky the information and said he “didn’t know” how it came to be in her possession.

In an email to The Times, Podderesky said she obtained the documents legally and that they were not subject to a protection order.

“There was no wrongdoing and no ‘leakage’ as suggested by the prosecutor. This finding was obtained legally and justifiably,” she said. “The documents submitted … only address false claims of surveillance and harassment by the Church and/or its agents and show no evidence to support the allegations. falsely accused of this fact.”

Podbresky did not respond to questions about how she obtained the documents, or whether they were related to a civil lawsuit brought by the accusers. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo issued an order protecting the documents last week and will hold a post-trial hearing to determine if there was a problem with Pobberesky’s possession of the discovery. Are not.

Critics of the church were furious when they learned one of their lawyers had documents related to the accusers.

“Scientology has no reason to possess crime discovery materials. No reason at all,” Remini, who attended the final debates in favor of Jen B., said on Twitter last week.

The email from Podderesky also revealed that she met with Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore to discuss concerns about possible bias against the church from within the department.

According to Mueller, she complained about the two main detectives in the case, Javier Vargas and Esther Myape.

Captain Kelly Muniz, a spokesman for the LAPD, said Podbresky’s complaint led to an internal investigation. According to Muniz, the meeting with Moore took place on April 24, who did not say why Moore sat down with his attorney.

After filing the complaint, Myape expressed concerns about testifying, Mueller said.

Muniz said Tuesday the department has also opened an internal investigation to determine whether LAPD employees played a role in providing discovery documents to Podbresky.

Karin Pouw, the church’s chief spokesman, dismissed the whole ordeal as an attempt to force the church into a criminal case.

“The DA’s attempt to create a purported ‘leak’ is just another example of church harassment. “There’s nothing wrong with the DA misrepresenting what happened and trying to put the church where it doesn’t belong,” Pouw said.

“Many false reports have been filed by Jane Does with the LAPD alleging false accusations of church harassment,” she said, “and the DA has made false statements about harassment. There is not a shred of evidence to support these claims.”

A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said she could not comment on a pending case.

The Los Angeles Police Department began investigating the claims against Masterson in 2016, beginning a case that eventually led prosecutors to charge the actor with three counts of rape in 2020.

A year before his arrest, women filed a lawsuit against Masterson and the church accused him Conspiracy with Scientology threaten them to be silent. That civil case is still pending.

juror stalemate in November after Masterson’s first criminal trial, and a majority of the 12-member panel said they would vote to acquit him. The second trial lasted a little more than two weeks and the testimony has remained largely unchanged since the women first came out against him in the 2021 preliminary hearing.

The prosecution’s case in the second trial centered on the idea that Masterson drugged the women before assaulting them. Each of the accusers – as well as the so-called previous bad behavior witness who said Masterson assaulted her at a closing party in Toronto in 2000 – described growing dizzy and nauseous after when the actor gave him a drink. Before long, as each woman testified, Masterson isolated and assaulted them.

Cohen pointed out that there was no forensic evidence that anyone was drugged and noted that all but one of the women had waited more than a decade to report their assault allegations. with law enforcement.

Each of the women expressed fear of being branded “oppressors” by Scientology if they were against the church or Masterson. Such a label, prosecutors said, was tantamount to excommunication, an extreme concern since most of the accusers’ relatives are also Scientists.

The church has repeatedly denied the doctrine that prohibits members from reporting to the police. But when Olmedo ordered Masterson to stand trial after a 2021 preliminary hearing, she ruled that Scientology had “a well-written doctrine” that “not only prevented but also forbade” its members from reporting police about each other.

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