That '70s Show star Danny Masterson's denies rape charges in court

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Actor Danny Masterson is arraigned on rape charges: Getty Images
Actor Danny Masterson is arraigned on rape charges: Getty Images

Actor Danny Masterson has made his first appearance in court after he was charged with raping three women in the early 2000s.

Masterson, best known for playing Steven Hyde in the hit series That '70s Show, has been free on bail since his arrest in June.

The 44-year-old actor did not enter a plea, but his lawyer Tom Mesereau declared his innocence in the Los Angeles courtroom on Friday.

If convicted as charged, the actor faces a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in state prison.

He stood in court wearing a blue suit and face mask next to his attorneys Mr Mesereau and Sharon Appelbaum, as his three accusers sat in the gallery.

Danny Masterson's lawyer denied his charges of rape (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Danny Masterson's lawyer denied his charges of rape (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

“There have been repeated attempts to politicise this case,” said Mr Mesereau, who also represented Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson in their sexual misconduct cases.

“He is absolutely not guilty and we’re going to prove it.”

Masterson has previously argued he was being persecuted for his high-profile membership of the Church of Scientology.

Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller called the statements “pure speculation, with no basis in fact.”

A group of the actor's supporters stood outside the courtroom as they are unable to enter due to coronavirus regulations.

Actor Danny Masterson, left, stands with his lawyers Thomas Mesereau, right, and Sharon Appelbaum during his arraignment in Los Angeles Superior Court (AP)
Actor Danny Masterson, left, stands with his lawyers Thomas Mesereau, right, and Sharon Appelbaum during his arraignment in Los Angeles Superior Court (AP)

Mr Mesereau added: “We want to do anything we can to tone down the cameras and the circus-like atmosphere that have pervaded this case. We’re just trying to protect his rights.”

Superior Court Judge Miguel T. Espinoza denied a request from the defence for a protective order sealing case files and preventing police, prosecutors and potential witnesses from revealing case information to the media, but said he would reconsider similar requests later.

Masterson spoke only to answer “yes” to the judge’s questions.

The defence has filed documents asking the criminal complaint against Masterson be thrown out as insufficient. A hearing on the issue will be held before Masterson is asked to enter a plea.

The 44-year-old is alleged to have raped a 23-year-old woman in 2001, according to prosecutors.

He is also accused of attacking a 28-year-old woman in April 2003 as well as raping a 23-year-old he had invited to his Hollywood Hills home between October and December that year.

All of the alleged attacks took place at Masterson's home, prosecutors said.

Masterson was written out of Netflix comedy The Ranch in 2017 when he was accused of sexual assault.

His dismissal from the show came in the wake of mass allegations against the now-jailed Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of sexual misconduct following a New York Times investigation in October 2017.

Additional reporting by Associated Press.

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