Prosecutors on Thursday released a list of witnesses for That ’70s Show actor Danny Masterson’s ongoing rape trial in California. Included on the list is the daughter of rock’n’roll legend Elvis Presley.
Lisa Marie Presley, listed as civilian witness number 14, is one of several high-profile individuals the state plans to put in front of jurors over allegations the defendant raped three women in the early 2000s.
According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the defendant raped a 23-year-old woman in 2001, a 28-year-old woman in April 2003, and a 23-year-old woman “sometime” between October and December of 2003. Each incident, law enforcement claims, occurred at the actor’s home in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood.
Masterson, 46, has consistently maintained his innocence.
In January 2021, defense attorney Tom Mesereau entered a not guilty plea on his client’s behalf at an arraignment in Los Angeles.
During a hearing the year before, the attorney, who has previously represented Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson in sex abuse cases, argued the statute of limitations in each case had already run out.
The judge overseeing the case didn’t accept that argument, however, and jury selection in the case began Tuesday of this week.
Masterson claims the sex was consensual.
As Law&Crime previously reported, the one of the alleged victims claims that she was drugged and then went in-and-out of consciousness, occasionally awaking to find the defendant bathing and then raping her. At one point, she claims, she woke to find herself threatened by a gun Masterson had pulled from a dresser.
Another victim claims that she was raped in the home she shared with the actor famous for playing “Hyde” during a multi-year relationship. When she resisted and tried to break free, she said, Masterson hit her across the face, spit on her, raped her, and called her “white trash.”
The defendant is a longtime practitioner of Scientology; at the time of the alleged incidents, each woman was also a member of the church.
While the controversial religion is largely verboten in the courtroom, due to an order by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo who has warned the prosecution not to make their presentation about Scientology, limited discussion of the faith will be allowed. That’s because the women claim they were pressured by church higher-ups to stay silent about Masterson’s alleged crimes.
However limited, the Scientology connection is part of why At the Drive-In singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala is also on the witness list.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the famous emo and progressive rock vocalist is married to actress Chrissie Carnell Bixler, one of the women who publicly accused Masterson of rape. The couple are also suing the defendant and the Church of Scientology in civil court. In 2020, Bixler-Zavala claimed that several of his dogs had been poisoned to death by Scientology adherents after his wife spoke out.
“I’m at the vet dealing with another hurt animal,” the Mars Volta singer posted on Instagram. “This is what I’ve been finding in my front and backyard. This is what Scientology does when you speak about the predators they protect.”
The church has maintained that they would never seek to silence crime victims because they instruct all of their members to “abide by all laws of the land.” The church recently asked the U.S. Supreme Court to force the civil claimants into binding arbitration.
The prosecution’s witness list also contains the name of Masterson’s longtime publicist, Jennifer Weinman.
A November 2017 report said Weinman once suggested to another of Masterson’s alleged victims that a woman cannot be raped if she’s in a relationship with him.
A partial transcript of that conversation follows:
Victim B: “I know Chrissie [Bixler] and I am certain she would talk.”
Weinman: “Well, Chrissie was Danny’s girlfriend at the time, so there’s really nothing, there’s no story there.”
Victim B: “He raped her.”
Weinman: “They were boyfriend and girlfriend and they dated, and then they fucked for a year after they broke up, so I don’t think that…”
Victim B: “He raped her when she was unconscious. That’s what he does, he rapes women when they’re unconscious. He has a sick…”
Weinman: “You were not unconscious when I dropped you off.”
High-profile lawyer Marty Singer, actresses, and a Masterson assistant are also on the witness list.
Lisa Marie Presley was a member of the Church of Scientology for over 30 years.
[Image via Jason Merritt/Getty Images]
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