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Actor Danny Masterson sentenced to 30 years to life for two rapes

UPI
Actor Danny Masterson faces a Thursday sentencing of between 30 years to life for raping two women in Los Angeles in 2003. He has been in custody since his conviction in May. File Photo by Phil McCarten/UPI

Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Actor Danny Masterson was sentenced Thursday to 30 years to life in prison for raping two women in Los Angeles in 2003.

He was convicted of the rapes in May in a second trial after a mistrial was declared in the first one.

Masterson, best known for a role on That '70s Show, appeared in court at 8:30 a.m. PDT Thursday. He had been in custody since his conviction after being deemed a flight risk.

Masterson didn't take the stand in his current trial or the previous one, but he denied assaulting the women.

Prosecutors said Masterson drugged and forcibly raped the women and that the Church of Scientology allegedly protected the actor when the women took their rape allegations to the church.

When asked why they were hesitant to come forward to law enforcement, the women said they were told they were not raped and said the church put them through what it calls "ethics programs" while warning them against going to law enforcement.

In court Thursday, one of the victims told Masterson, "when you raped me, you stole from me. That's what rape is, a theft of the spirit."

Variety reports that Judge Charlaine Olmedo told Masterson, "you are not the victim here. Your actions 20 years ago took away another person's voice and choice. Your actions 20 years ago were criminal, and that is why you are here."

The defense had asked for the two 15-year sentences to run concurrently but Judge Olmedo ultimately decided the sentences should run consecutively.

Masterson was a high-ranking member of the Church of Scientology. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo said church rules ban members from reporting other members to law enforcement.

Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller said that, when the women reported Masterson's attack to the church, they were told it was their fault and that they were required to "give [Masterson] sex when he wants it."

But the Church of Scientology denies that, telling ABC News there's "no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of Scientologists, or of anyone, to law enforcement. ... Church policy explicitly demands Scientologists abide by all laws of the land."