LOS ANGELES (AP) – In hours of often tearful testimony, a woman told a judge Tuesday that she was slipping in and out of consciousness on a night 18 years ago when she said she found actor Danny Masterson raping her.
“When I came to, he was on top of me,” said the woman, identifying herself on the witness stand only as Jen B. “The first thing I recall is grabbing his hair to pull him off.”
She testified at a preliminary hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court, where a judge is deciding whether there is probable cause to order a trial for the “That ’70s Show” actor, who is accused of raping three women. The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they were victims of sexual abuse.
Masterson has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer, Thomas Mesereau, has said he would prove his client’s innocence.
Jen B. testified that she and Masterson were part of the same group of friends who were tied to the Church of Scientology in the late 1990s and early 2000s and that she had gone to Masterson’s house to pick up a set of keys on April 25, 2003, and got stuck there.
She said Masterson had given her a drink with vodka in it at her request — her first of the night — but said she was “blurry,” weak and queasy about 20 minutes later and had no strength to resist as Masterson threw her in his jacuzzi.
She said when she got out she couldn’t even sit up. A mutual friend, Luke Watson, tried to help her.
“I couldn’t walk or stand, so he put me on the tile on the ground,” said Jen B., who began crying but remained composed throughout her testimony. “I said, ‘Luke I can’t see,’ and he said, ‘Open your eyes,’ and I didn’t know my eyes were closed. I couldn’t open my eyelids. I felt really, really sick.”
She testified that Masterson carried her upstairs, where she vomited, then put her in his shower. She said she began losing consciousness but was awake to find Masterson soaping her bare breasts. She said she tried to punch him in the face but was too weak and only landed lightly on his chest.
She testified that he put her on the bed and raped her and has only flashes of memory in the minutes that followed. She said that after she failed to get Masterson off her by pulling his hair, she put a pillow in his face, but he pushed it back on her.
She said he pulled a gun out of his nightstand drawer to threaten her.
During cross-examination, Mesereau challenged her over why the gun made no appearance in a police report she filed the following year.
“Do you think that the police just forgot to put it in?” Mesereau said. Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo forbade the question after a prosecution objection.
Mesereau repeatedly asked Jen B. about inconsistencies between her 2004 police report and a 2003 “knowledge report” she filled out about the incident for the church as it tried to mediate between her and Masterson. She acknowledged there were differences but said she tried to be truthful in every case.
Jen B. testified that in the following days, bruises appeared on her wrists and neck area and that she had incredible pain in her genitalia.
She said the leadership of the Church of Scientology, of which her parents and all her friends were members, strongly discouraged her from going to the police, pointing out that by policy she would be declared a “suppressive person” if she made a report against a member in good standing like Masterson.
“I would lose my family and everyone I knew,” she said, though in June 2004 she decided to go to the police anyway.
Mesereau said she had “mischaracterized” the Scientology response.
Before the hearing began, Mesereau argued that references to the church or harassment of women by officials and members should not be allowed. He alleged that the prosecution and lead detective in the case had shown “religious bias in the most blatant form.”
The judge declined to issue a blanket ban, but she said she would allow the witnesses to discuss the church as it affected their state of mind.
In a lawsuit that the women filed against the church and Masterson, the church denied ever engaging in any harassment.
In Tuesday’s testimony, Jen B. acknowledged prosecutors told her in 2004 that her case had been rejected in part because there were too many witnesses against her. She returns to the stand Wednesday for the hearing that is expected to last four days.
Masterson, 45, occasionally took notes in court and had no clear response to the testimony. He has been charged in Los Angeles with three counts of rape by force or fear over attacks women said occurred in 2001 and 2003.