After a jury failed to reach a verdict last year regarding rape charges against Danny Masterson, the actor’s retrial began on Monday. Variety reports the prosecution was more aggressive in accusing Masterson of drugging his victims in the opening arguments, while the specter of Scientology—Masterson is a member of the church, while the three victims are former members—continues to hang over the proceedings.
On Tuesday, Masterson’s former girlfriend testified about the assault she experienced in 2001. Per the Associated Press, she said he had been woken in the night by Masterson initiating sex with her and gone along with it to avoid angering him. But on this occasion, “I told him ‘no, I don’t want to have sex.’ He didn’t listen to me,” she said. “So I continued pleading with him, like, ‘please get off of me, no.’ And he was continuing. And it was painful. And I remember trying to push his chest up off of me. I couldn’t get him off of me.”
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The woman reportedly became emotional in her testimony, telling the jury that Masterson had a rule not to touch his face or hair. “If I did this, I knew it wouldn’t be good. But I believed it would maybe make him stop,” she said. After yanking his hair, he allegedly “hit her in the jaw with a partially closed fist, spat on her, and stormed off,” according to the AP.
The witness testified that Masterson became increasingly controlling and abusive over the course of their five-year relationship, which began in 1996. She joined the Church of Scientology because of him, and found herself cut off from friends and family who were not members. She described aggression and even violence in their sex life, and one incident in which he may have drugged her, allegedly admitting to raping her while unconscious: “He started laughing at me,” she testified. “I asked him if I was unconscious the whole time, and he said ‘yeah.’” (The defense argued in their opening statements that “there is no drugging charge in this case.”)
After reporting the incident to the Church, she was told that this assault was not rape because of their relationship status and that she should not go to the police. The woman eventually left Scientology and went to the police in 2016. She is set to return to the stand, alongside the other three women and a new “prior bad acts witness” (per Variety) in the coming weeks of the retrial.
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