Update: Netflix is on a mission to repair trust with its viewers. The company announced on Tuesday that it had fired executive Andy Yeatman following an outpouring of criticism, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Earlier this month, The Huffington Post ran a story in which one of Danny Masterson's accusers claimed that Yeatman told her the company "didn't believe" the multiple allegations against the That '70s Show star.
This story was originally published on December 5, 2017 at 1:28 p.m.
Actor Danny Masterson has been removed from his role in Netflix's The Ranch following a controversy about the multiple rape allegations surrounding the actor. As Variety reports, Netflix released a statement Tuesday announcing his departure. The statement added that Masterson had been written out of the show, which will continue as planned without his character.
"Yesterday was [Masterson's] last day on the show, and production will resume in early 2018 without him," the statement concluded.
The decision to fire Masterson appears to have been inspired by the news that Netflix executive Andy Yeatman reportedly told one of Masterson's accusers that higher-ups at the company didn't believe the accusations against Masterson. Monday, Huffpost reported that one of Masterson's accusers approached Yeatman at a soccer game to ask why, despite multiple accusations of rape, Masterson remained an employee of Netflix. According to the accuser, who spoke to Huffpost, Yeatman replied that the streaming service "didn't believe them."
Yeatman's comments, careless or not, pointed to Netflix's apparent inconsistent treatment of sexual misconduct. The streaming site fired Kevin Spacey from his role in House of Cards five days after Buzzfeed published accusations against the actor on October 30. The New York Times published its exposé of the comedian Louis C.K. on November 9, and Netflix moved swiftly to remove him — the company announced not even 24 hours later that it would not proceed with C.K.'s next special as planned.
With Masterson, Netflix appears to have been more cautious. Huffington Post reported in early November that Masterson had been accused of raping four women in the early 2000s, and that the case had been mysteriously paused despite a wealth of evidence. The Los Angeles Police Department began interviewing the four women in 2016, according to HuffPo, and the case went to the L.A. district attorney in April of 2017, where it reportedly stalled. A source who works in the district attorney's office who spoke on the condition of anonymity told HuffPo that the case had been "slow rolled."
The actress Leah Remini, who is a vocal detractor of the religion Scientology, told The Daily Beast that the case was likely being suppressed by the LAPD itself, which she said had ties to the Church of Scientology. (According to Huffington Post, Masterson is a Scientologist, as are three of his accusers. Masterson spoke about Scientology in a 2005 Spin profile.)
"I am obviously very disappointed in Netflix’s decision to write my character off of The Ranch. From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me,” Masterson said. "I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. In this country, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused. I understand and look forward to clearing my name once and for all." He went on to thank the cast and crew of The Ranch and his fans for their continued support.
Huffpost first reported Masterson's actions on November 2, days before the Times published its report on Louis C.K. Yet, Netflix didn't appear to publicly take action on Masterson's role in the company until December 5, nearly a month after the initial report emerged. The move looks like a response to Yeatman's blunder more than anything else — seemingly, if Andy Yeatman hadn't made a "careless" comment at a youth soccer game, Netflix might have continued its inaction concerning the allegations against Masterson. Yeatman's comment inspired a wave of online frenzy, though, and the report published by Huffington Post appears to have forced Netflix to respond.
Refinery29 has reached out to Netflix for further comment.
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