The Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney opened an investigation on the actor in 2017

By Christina Dugan
June 17, 2020 06:30 PM
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Danny Masterson has been charged with three counts of rape by force or fear, PEOPLE confirms.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office announced that the That ’70s Show actor, 44, has been charged with forcibly raping three women in separate incidents occurring between 2001 and 2003. The case was filed for warrant on Tuesday.

According to the D.A.'s Office, Masterson is accused of raping a 23-year-old woman between January and December 2001. Additionally, in April 2003, the actor allegedly raped a 28-year-old woman and between October and December of that same year he is accused of raping a 23-year-old woman who he had invited to his Hollywood Hills home.

Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller of the Sex Crimes Division said all of the alleged crimes occurred at Masterson's home.

If found guilty, Masterson could face a possible maximum sentence of 45 years to life in state prison. Arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 18.

Additionally, the D.A.’s Office declined to file sexual assault charges against Masterson in two other cases: one for insufficient evidence and the other based upon the statute of limitations for the alleged crime.

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In a statement to PEOPLE on Wednesday, Masterson’s attorney Tom Mesereau said, “Mr. Masterson is innocent, and we’re confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify.

“Obviously, Mr. Masterson and his wife are in complete shock considering that these nearly 20-year old allegations are suddenly resulting in charges being filed, but they and their family are comforted knowing that ultimately the truth will come out,” the statement continued. “The people who know Mr. Masterson know his character and know the allegations to be false.”

In August, four women filed a lawsuit against Masterson and the Church of Scientology, alleging they were stalked and intimidated after accusing the actor of sexual assault.

Danny Masterson
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In the complaint obtained by PEOPLE, Chrissie Carnell Bixler (Masterson’s ex), Marie Bobette Riales and two anonymous Jane Does accuse Masterson and the church of engaging in stalking, physical invasion of privacy and a conspiracy to obstruct justice, among other allegations, claiming they and their families were harassed in an effort to silence them. (Bixler’s husband is also a plaintiff.)

“This is beyond ridiculous,” Masterson said in a statement to PEOPLE through his attorney in 2019. “I’m not going to fight my ex-girlfriend in the media like she’s been baiting me to do for more than two years. I will beat her in court — and look forward to it because the public will finally be able learn the truth and see how I’ve been railroaded by this woman. And once her lawsuit is thrown out, I intend to sue her and the others who jumped on the bandwagon for the damage they caused me and my family.”

Danny Masterson
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In a statement at the time, a litigation counsel for the Church of Scientology told PEOPLE: “From everything we have read in the press, this baseless lawsuit will go nowhere because the claims are ludicrous and a sham. It’s a dishonest and hallucinatory publicity stunt. Leah Remini is taking advantage of these people as pawns in her moneymaking scam.” (Remini, 50, was a member of the church for 35 years before making her exit public in 2013.)

RELATED VIDEO: Danny Masterson 'Very Disappointed' After Being Fired by Netflix Amid Sexual Assault Allegations

In the lawsuit, the four women claimed that they were systematically stalked and subsequently suffered emotional distress after filing reports with the LAPD.

According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, Masterson has been under investigation over the sexual assault allegations by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney since 2017.

The That ’70s Show alumnus was dropped from the Netflix series The Ranch and by his agency, UTA, in December 2017 in the wake of the allegations.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to online.rainn.org.