The number of women who have come forward about sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry increased on Thursday with a report from The Huffington Post. The outlet reports that four women have accused That '70s Show star Danny Masterson of rape, but the investigation into the case has stalled. According to the Huffington Post, the LAPD first started investigating the claims before turning the case over to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Now, the case is reportedly at a standstill, despite the reported wealth of evidence involved. A representative for Masterson told Refinery29 that the LAPD had closed the case.
Three of the accusers are Scientologists, as is Masterson. The alleged incidents happened in the early 2000s.
One unnamed law enforcement official told the Huffington Post's Yashar Ali that there was "overwhelming" evidence against Masterson, but the charges still haven't been "approved for filing." The reported evidence includes "audiotapes, emails sent to and from Scientology officers at the time the alleged rapes happened, forensic computer evidence, and a threatening handwritten letter Masterson sent to one of the alleged victims, according to two people with knowledge of the evidence in the district attorney’s possession." A representative for the LAPD told Refinery29 that it wouldn't be providing details about the case. When reached via email, a representative for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office declined to comment.
Per Ali's report, the Church of Scientology has covered up allegations against its members (and against the group itself) in the past. The three Masterson accusers who are Scientologists are said to have reported the alleged rapes to the Church of Scientology. Per HuffPo, the Church of Scientology considers it a "suppressive act" to report another member of the Church to legal authorities.
Masterson is represented by attorney Martin Singer, who's also currently representing director Brett Ratner. Ratner was accused of sexual harassment and assault by six women in a report published by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. Thomas Mesereau is also representing Masterson as his criminal defense attorney, and the Huffington Post reports that Masterson "has denied that he engaged in any sexual misconduct." A representative for Masterson didn't immediately respond to Refinery29's request for comment.
News of the LAPD's stalled case has raised questions about Masterson's ongoing Netflix series — the actor stars in The Ranch, which, as of now, is still continuing on the streaming service. Netflix's House of Cards, meanwhile, was cancelled amid allegations of sexual misconduct against star Kevin Spacey. The streaming service has said, though, that the decision to cancel the show was made before the reports.
The report about Masterson also comes after dozens of women have accused film mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, with multiple women accusing him of rape. He's just one of many powerful men who've been taken down by claims of sexual harassment and misconduct in the past year alone. While stories like these are incredibly tough to read, the fact that they're emerging in public hopefully means that the tides are turning, and survivor's voices will increasingly be heard.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
Editor's note: This story has been updated.
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