In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Danny Masterson was among the most sought-after actors. His role in The ’70s Show boosted his fame, and soon, he was on the cover of every entertainment magazine worldwide. As he continued to build on his career, undisclosed controversies were happening behind the scenes. Even after That ’70s Show ended, the actor continued to enjoy his status as one of Hollywood’s elite.
However, by 2017, severe accusations began following Masterson. Soon, several women would come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct and rape. Although Masterson denied the allegations, he faced charges relating to the scandal. This month, the once beloved star was sentenced to 30 years behind bars. This is the monumental rise and fall of Danny Masterson.
Early Career Of Danny Masterson & That ’70s Show
Daniel Peter Masterson was born on Long Island, New York, on March 13, 1976, and started modeling at age four. According to In Touch Weekly, Danny appeared in his first commercial at five years old. By the time he was 16, Danny starred in more than 100 commercials. In 1993, Danny landed his first role in a movie, Beethoven’s 2nd. He also had roles on TV shows like Roseanne, NYPD Blue, and Cybill. In 1998, Danny caught his major break.
When Masterson landed the role of Steven Hyde on That ’70s Show in 1998, the 22-year-old hit paydirt. Fans loved the series and it became an instant hit. Danny’s Hyde was one of the show’s favorite and most beloved characters. He received much praise for his portrayal. Although the show ended after eight years in 2006, Masterson made his mark and was ready to take his success to the next level.
Life After The Series Ended & Accusations Against Masterson
After That ’70s Show ended, Danny Masterson continued to work and starred in other shows and movies. While he didn’t find another character that resonated like Hyde, he was still in the spotlight. In 2016, he reunited with his former ’70s co-star, Ashton Kutcher, to star in the Netflix hit show, The Ranch. As a co-executive producer on the show, things were looking food for Danny until the serious accusations.
Everything came tumbling down for Danny Masterson when three women accused him of sexual assault in March 2017. The women all alleged that Danny raped them between 2001 and 2003 at his home, coinciding with his success. One of the women was an ex-girlfriend who claimed that Danny raped her numerous times. Based on the women’s accusations, the Los Angeles Police Department opened up an investigation.
Beyond the rape allegations, the women claimed that his role as a high-ranking Scientology member prevented him from being charged earlier. The women claimed that church members tried to shut them up to protect Masterson. Instead, the victims said they were the ones who bore the brunt. One of the women, an actress, claimed she was effectively blacklisted. Eventually, two more women accused Danny of assault, increasing the number to five.
Danny vehemently denied the accusations, but almost immediately after, people began choosing sides. While Danny had plenty of supporters, many others turned their back on him. In December 2017, Netflix decided to believe the women and dropped Danny from The Ranch. The streaming giant released a statement stating, “As a result of ongoing discussions, Netflix and the producers have written Danny Masterson out of The Ranch. Yesterday was his last day on the show, and production will resume in early 2018 without him.”
Danny released his own statement. “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. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one.” He added, “I understand and look forward to clearing my name once and for all.” By 2019, four women sued Danny and the Church of Scientology.
The Charges & First Trial
In June 2020, Danny was charged with raping three women and pleaded not guilty in January 2021. After days of emotional testimony in May 2021 during a preliminary hearing, a judge decided that the women were credible and Danny would face trial. He was arraigned on June 7, where he pleaded not guilty again. At the time, he was free on a $3.3 million bail.
The trial opened on October 11, 2022. While Danny never testified on his behalf, the women recalled stories of him allegedly making unwanted advances. They even said they felt like he drugged their drinks to assault them against their will, according to E! News. One victim claimed that Masterson pulled a gun on her during an encounter. Despite the damning testimony, the jury deadlocked on whether he was guilty of all three charges. Therefore, the judge declared a mistrial. However, Danny Masterson wasn’t off the hook yet.
The Second Trial Of Danny Masterson
The second trial took place in April 2023. Once again, he pleaded not guilty, and once again, he didn’t testify. However, this trial was different since a jury found him guilty on two out of the three charges. After his conviction, Masterson was transferred to the L.A. County Men’s Central Jail. He was kept out of the general population due to his celebrity status.
During the sentencing phase, the victims spoke out. One called him “a true coward and heartless monster.” Another woman said, “You relish in hurting women. It is your addiction. It is without question your favorite thing to do.” The judge came down hard on Danny and said, “Mr. Masterson, you are not the victim here. Your actions 20 years ago took away another person’s choice and voice. Your actions 20 years ago today were criminal, and that’s why you are here. You were not convicted based on rumors, innuendo, gossip and speculation.”
The judge also mentioned that Danny paid each accuser $1 million to sign an NDA. She told him an innocent person would not have paid that amount. The judge gave Danny a 30-year-to-life sentence on September 7. Two 15-year sentences for each rape he was convicted of must be served consecutively. While Danny Masterson’s attorneys have promised to appeal, and he still has plenty of support, it looks like it will be an uphill battle.