Danny Masterson's Rape Case Will Move Forward, Judge Rules, Rejecting Defense Motion
The actor's lawyers argued that the allegations are too old to be prosecuted, according to reports
The actor, who denies the allegations, was charged in June with raping three women in separate incidents occurring between 2001 and 2003. During a hearing on Monday, the judge rejected a defense argument that the case should be thrown out because the alleged rapes occurred outside the statute of limitations, Variety reported. According to Deadline, the judge also rejected a move by the defense to keep the media out of the courtroom.
"Arraignment was continued until November 2 and a judge denied a defense motion," a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office tells PEOPLE.
Masterson's lawyer did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
The former That '70s Show star, 44, remains free on $3.3 million bail and did not attend Monday's hearing. He has not yet entered a plea in the case, and according to Deadline, will be present in court next month for his arraignment. He previously appeared in court during a hearing in September.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced on June 17 that Masterson had been charged with three counts of rape by force or fear. Prosecutors allege that Masterson raped a 23-year-old woman sometime in 2001; a 28-year-old woman in April 2003; and a 23-year-old woman between October and December 2003. All of the alleged crimes occurred at Masterson's home, according to the prosecution.
If found guilty, he could face a possible maximum sentence of 45 years to life in state prison.
Masterson, who has been married to actor and model Bijou Phillips since 2011, has denied the allegations.
"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," his lawyer Tom Mesereau said in a statement in June. "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 people who know Mr. Masterson know his character and know the allegations to be false."
The formal charges came less than a year after four women filed a lawsuit against Masterson and the Church of Scientology in August 2019, alleging they were stalked and intimidated after accusing the actor of raping them in the early 2000s.
In the complaint obtained by PEOPLE, Chrissie Carnell Bixler (Masterson's ex), Marie Bobette Riales and two anonymous Jane Does accused 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 via his attorney at the time. "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."
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."
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.