The first witness in Danny Masterson’s trial broke down in tears on Wednesday as she told jurors the actor threatened her in April 2003.
The woman, who chose to be identified as Jane Doe #1, said she remembers waking up in Masterson’s bed and crawling on top of him. She said she tried to push him away with a pillow, but he grabbed her wrist with one hand and her throat with the other.
“I can’t breathe,” she said, sobbing and dabbing her face with a tissue. “It was really tight,” she added, adding that she felt like “I was going to die.”
“I can’t do this,” she said, shaking her head after a moment. “I can’t do this.”
The court adjourned. Jane Doe #1 returned to the stand after the break and continued to testify.
Masterson faces up to 45 years in prison after being convicted of three counts of rape. The trial began on Tuesday with a heated argument over how much the witnesses would be allowed to cross-examine about matters related to the Church of Scientology.
Masterson and all three defendants in the case were Scientologists at the time of the incident. Judge Charline Olmedo allowed some discussion at the church to show the relationship between the witnesses and their motivations.
But she also sought to exclude testimony that could be “unduely prejudicial” as a matter of law. On Tuesday, Jane Doe #1 issued a statement warning Scientology members against “aligning with the enemy” — meaning non-Scientologists — and that Scientology’s goal is to “cleanse the world.”
Before testimony resumed Wednesday morning, Olmedo advised Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller to strictly control such testimony.
“This is a case of rape,” the judge said. “Go to the events.”
Jane Doe #1 testified on Tuesday about her first sexual encounter with Masterson in September 2002, during which she alleges he penetrated her against her will.
On Wednesday, she testified that after that incident, she was sent to speak with a church ethics officer and was “forced to reconcile” with Masterson. She said she had to complete a few weeks of “behavior programs” and was told she was responsible for the conflict.
“My perception, my whole life, was that you could never be a victim,” she testified. “Nothing will happen to you that you did not do. No matter what situation you find in life, no matter how horrible, you are responsible. You created it.”
She continued to testify about the sexual intercourse that took place beginning in April 2003, telling jurors that she went to Masterson’s house, gave her something to drink, and threw her into a jacuzzi. I started to feel like she was going to throw up, and she was having trouble seeing.
She said Masterson willingly took her upstairs to the bathroom and put his fingers down her throat, forcing her to throw up. She said she resisted – saying “no” – but Masterson picked her up and took her up the stairs.
She said she was going to flush the toilet, and Masterson then pulled her into the shower and turned on the water. At one point, she realized Masterson was in front of her, cupping her breasts with his hands. She said swinging at him, but it felt weak and the punch didn’t land much force.
Then, Masterson picked him up and placed him on the bed, where she passed out. She testified that when she woke up, Masterson was on top of her, his full weight into her.
In the ensuing struggle, Masterson reached into a drawer in the nightstand and pulled out a gun. She put him down and said, “Shut up.”
“how are you feeling?” Muller asked.
“Fear,” she replied.
In the afternoon, Jane Doe #1 testified about her reaction to the incident. At one point, she said, she went to see her ethics officer, Julian Swartz. She learned that reporting a Scientologist in good standing to the police was against church policy and that she could be labeled a “suppressor” by doing so.
“My understanding is that I will immediately be found guilty of a felony. A serious crime comes with the penalty of expulsion from Scientology,” she said. “My life will pass. My parents had to cut ties with me. My daughter couldn’t go to school… I had nowhere to work or live. I had nowhere to go.”
In the year In April 2004, a year after the rape, Jane Doe #1 wrote a letter to the Church’s International Chief Justice, who oversees all judicial matters for the Church. She requested permission to file criminal charges against Masterson.
About a week later, the official wrote back, referring to Scientology policies, saying “LRH must implement technology” for any problems.
On the witness stand, she said she interpreted it as withholding her consent.
“He chose to suggest a policy that said, ‘I can’t go with the police,'” she testified.
In June 2004, she went to the LAPD anyway and filed a rape report against Masterson. A short time later, she got a call from Swartz’s ethics officer. Swartz wanted to know why the LAPD called him and said he gave her his number.
“She said you’re crazy,” she testified. “‘You don’t know how insulted you are.'”
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office chose not to press charges at the time — the #1 decision Jane Doe says made her feel “terrified.”
Jane Doe #1 ultimately received $400,000 in a settlement with Masterson. She testified that she was forced to sign a consent agreement that included an ambiguous provision. If she had not done so, she said, the church authorities were preparing to declare her a repressor.
“I can go into NDA or I can go for notification,” she said.
Masterson’s attorney, Philip Cohen, began his cross-examination Wednesday afternoon and began examining discrepancies between Jane Doe #1’s testimony and her first account to the LAPD in 2004. Cohen is expected to resume cross-examination Thursday morning.
Marty Singer, the attorney who negotiated the civil settlement on Masterson’s behalf, is on the prosecution’s witness list for Thursday.