A woman who accuses “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson of raping her testified Wednesday morning that as she grew older and separated from the Church of Scientology, she realized a 2003 encounter with him “was rape, and he was like a predator.”
“I didn’t want it to be rape because of so many reasons. So many reasons,” the former Scientologist testified. “I did not want to think of someone in the church that I was friendly with as a rapist.”
Identified only as by her first initial and last name in court, the woman, whose initials are N.T., said she was “profoundly scrutinized” as a Scientologist and told that “negative thoughts against others means you have sins against them.”
“In the church, he was considered more important than me at the time,” N.T. said.
Nearly 20 years later, N.T. is one of three women Los Angeles prosecutors say Masterson, now 46, raped between 2000 and 2003. She’s the last to take the stand, and she spent all of Wednesday testifying that a visit to Masterson’s Hollywood Hills home turned into a violent encounter in which the actor and devout Scientologist raped her “like a jackhammer,” causing her to feel “like a rag doll” and vomit in her mouth to avoid getting it on his bedsheets.
“He was just pounding and pounding really hard. It was like a jackhammer,” N.T. testified, adding “boom boom boom” emphatically. “It really hurt. It felt like he was hitting my cervix.”
As he has each day of trial, Masterson sat stoically at the defense table, watching the testimony with pursed lips while sipping from a 32-ounce plastic Starbucks cup. His courtroom supporters on Wednesday included his mother; his brother, actor Christopher Masterson; and his wife, actress Bijou Phillips.
N.T. was an actress who had a role on a short-lived ABC sitcom slotted between the hit shows Dharma & Greg and The Drew Carey Show. She met Masterson through Scientology, seeing him at gatherings and Scientology’s Celebrity Centre “just casually” before joining him and a group at The Well, a popular bar on Sunset Boulevard where she noticed him and two friends staring at her “in such a laser-focused way” as their group shared a VIP booth.
“It was like boring a hole into my head, staring,” N.T. said. Masterson’s friends “were really watching Danny watch me and it was really just an intent, somewhat predatory stare.”
“It was intimidating to me. I’ve had anxiety for so long, and it’s sometimes very hard for me to tell the difference between feeling excitement and nervous and all the different shapes of that. I found him intimidating,” she said.
Masterson said to her bluntly, “give me your number,” N.T. said, mimicking Masterson, and he later texted her “demanding and commanding that I come over right now.”
“‘You’re getting in my jacuzzi. You’re getting in my pool . . . you’re coming over now.’ It was like that,” N.T. testified Wednesday.
She said was taken aback by his “obnoxious, aggressive” approach.
“I was like, ask me on a date, dude,” she said. “I think I texted him like, ‘No, you can take me on a date. I’m not some — I don’t know who you think I am. Like I’m so impressed with you.'”
But another woman had also told her how much Masterson liked her, and at the time, “I thought maybe this is his way of flirting.” Still, she testified that she was “very worried about being used or treated in a way that was disrespectful” because of his messages about hopping in his pool “like I’m some floozy or something.”
“I was like, ‘I am not getting in your pool. I am not getting in your jacuzzi. I am not putting on a bikini,'” N.T. testified Wednesday. “‘We can talk and have a glass of wine and then I’ll go home.'”
Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller displayed a photo of the front of Masterson’s home at the time. N.T. said she arrived believing parameters had been set, but when she arrived at the “beautiful mansion,” Masterson didn’t want to show her the home; he wanted her to immediately drink a glass of wine he’d provided her.
“I wanted to see the art, and he just kept telling me, ‘Just drink that. Finish the wine. Finish it. Just drink it,'” she testified. She doesn’t remember how much of it she drank, “but I was trying to drink it, trying to have things be conversational.”
She described their discussion as “sparse and casual.”
“Mostly him telling me, ‘Finish the drink. Drink that,'” she said. She felt their visit had the potential to be “mildly romantic . . . in a way that was respectful.” She said she was willing to, “I don’t know, kiss? But nothing else. Just talk and maybe he would get to know me.”
N.T. said she walked to the backyard pool and jacuzzi with Masterson, thinking he was showing her around, but he commanded her to “take your clothes off right now, right now.” She recalled her outfit: Corduroy pants and “a 1960s vintage blue puffer coat.”
“He said, ‘Take them off now. Take them off now. Take them off now. If you don’t take them off now, I’m going to take them off,” N.T. testified.
It was 15 or 30 minutes after she’d drank the wine Masterson gave her, and she was feeling “heavy in my body” — “like a numbness.” Masterson continued commanding her “like a drill sergeant” to de-robe before he began removing her clothes himself, she alleged. She doesn’t know how she got in the jacuzzi, but she remembered she was wearing her bra and panties, naming her underwear brand and describing them as “pale pink.” There was a flurry of heavy kissing, she testified, and she said she repeatedly told Masterson she “didn’t want to have sex.”
“I didn’t want anything of what was happening,” N.T. continued on the witness stand. “I didn’t want to be in the jacuzzi. I didn’t want him touching my vagina. I didn’t want sex of any kind. I told that to him . . . . There has to be a point where it’s enough for him,” she said.
They went from the jacuzzi to Masterson’s shower, but “at that point, I was, like, afraid to really assert myself,” she said. “He was really intense and driven to have this, have what was happening.”
“All of a sudden he went inside me with his penis really fast, and I freaked out,” she continued. “I had already said to him, No, we cannot have intercourse. We cannot have sex.”
She said she “was like ‘What the fuck?'”
“I said, ‘What are you doing? Get out of me . . . you just went inside me. Why did you do that. I told you no,'” N.T. testified Wednesday.
They ended up on his bed, “and I was like, ‘Danny, we cannot have sex,'” she continued.
“He said, ‘That’s it,’ and he flipped me over on the bed, like fast, like wheeeeew,” N.T. testified. “And he just started pounding me from behind really hard.”
It was intercourse, according to her testimony, and she said she “was shocked.”
“I was like, ‘Oh my God. I told you not to do that,'” she said. Then she looked at him and realized he wasn’t wearing a condom. “That, like, freaked me out, too,” she said.
“The condom was not even the fucking point,” N.T. said emotionally. “I was just like, ‘I can’t believe you fucking did this, but I guess if you’re not going to listen to me, at least do that so I’m not going to get pregnant or like a disease or something.'” She said she doesn’t know if Masterson put on a condom, but “he just kept pounding me so hard.”
“Everything just hurt,” she testified. Masterson eventually ejaculated on her stomach and told her, “Wait right there. I’m going to get a hot, wet towel,” N.T. said.
“He was now pretending to be a gentlemen,” she said.
She remembers discussing her sex life with Masterson; she said he was surprised at how few sexual partners she’d had. Masterson’s sex life was much different; N.T. said he’d told her he “was having crazy sex,” including a threesome in Hawaii. But he’d felt cleansed after going though a Scientology process that N.T. described as a “security check” or “confessional.”
It’s a meter device that essentially serves as a lie detector, and participants are meant to share thoughts and experiences “that would be considered non-optimal for you, for others and for humanity as a whole,” N.T. explained on the stand.
“By confessing, you’re meant to be more clear and fit to be accepted in the world,” she said.
N.T. said she didn’t report what happened to the Church of Scientology because “I wasn’t allowed to think about it” as rape.
“I was kind of gaslighting myself. Like, ‘This was romantic, and it’s kind of your fault,'” she said. “I had a very naive understanding of even what rape was.”
She “knew in her gut it was wrong,” but in order to “survive” in her Scientologist community “I had to think of it otherwise.” If she reported Masterson raped her, “My understanding is I would be ex-communicated, loose my standing . . . that I would be expelled and excommunicated, seen as evil.”
She said she now understands the difference between “somebody having an affinity for you and somebody targeting you like a piece of meat.” She testified that she called Masterson a few times after the encounter, once to ask him why he hadn’t been calling her and another time to ask if he could introduce her to a man she liked in their Scientology circle.
“He said ‘no’ and hung up,” N.T. said. She later saw him at an event at a venue across from Amoeba Music in Hollywood and Masterson “was staring, like, a hole into my head. And he looked pissed,” she said.
During cross-examination, Masterson’s lawyer Philip Cohen asked N.T. about a Los Angeles police detective instructing her not to contact the other victims or talk about the case for fear of hurting her credibility as a witness.
“Did you follow her instruction?” Cohen asked.
“Nope,” N.T. answered.
Cohen said she and the two other women accusing Masterson “started to flood each other with information.”
N.T. also testified that she was suspicious of the detective, who she said was sending her “happy face emojis” and not interviewing witnesses. The detective called her the day after a two-and-a-half hour interview, laughing and asking “what kind of almonds” she’d had during the interview because they were great.
“I thought that was really, really inappropriate and unprofessional,” she said. She said she and the other victims “all were confused . . . we were worried about corruption.”
N.T. affirmed to Mueller she was concerned about testifying and that she’d been harassed since reporting Masterson.
“For six years, constant,” N.T. said. She said the harassment began “the week I reported my rape to law enforcement.”
“Is it still ongoing currently?” Mueller asked.
“Yes,” N.T. answered.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo halted N.T. a couple times as she testified about Scientology. The judge also repeatedly instructs the jury throughout the trial that testimony about harassment and stalking — allegedly by the Church of Scientology — is not being presented as truth but because it can be considered when assessing witness’ state of mind and their testimony.
A spokesperson for the Church of Scientology says the harassment and stalking allegations are false and that prosecutors are unfairly trying to use Masterson’s religion against him.
(Photo by Meghann M. Cuniff/Law&Crime)
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