CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses sexual assault.

Danny Masterson, who rose to fame as Steven Hyde on hit tv show That 70s Show, has been ordered by a judge to stand trial on three charges of rape.

The decision comes after three days of a preliminary hearing in which the prosecution laid out its evidence that the actor raped three women in the early 2000s.

After hearing testimony from those women, Judge Charlaine F Olmedo of the Los Angeles superior county court ordered that Masterson must stand trial. She said that she found the women’s testimony credible for the purposes of a preliminary hearing.

The 45-year-old actor denies all the charges. His defence is arguing that the sex was consensual, and has suggested that the three women are colluding.

However, Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller said the testimony was “anything but” coordinated.

“These were not rehearsed statements. They were heartfelt, and they each had their versions of what happened,” Mueller said.

All the women are former Scientologists, and Masterson remains a member of the controversial church. According to the Guardian, the church was repeatedly mentioned during the women’s testimony, including that the church teachings prevented the women from reporting the alleged rapes to police.

Masterson was arrested in June 2020 on three counts of rape dating between 2001 and 2003. He stands accused of raping a 23-year-old woman between January and December of 2001, a 28-year-old woman in April 2003, and a 23-year-old woman in the last months of 2003. He has been out on bail since then.

Back in 2017, audio surfaced of Masterson’s publicist Jenni Weinman telling one of the women who accused Masterson of rape that you can’t be raped by someone you’re in a relationship with. The unnamed woman can then be heard telling Weinman: “He raped her when she was unconscious. That’s what he does, he rapes women when they’re unconscious.”

Masterson has been told to return for arraignment on June 7. If convicted of the charges, he could face up to 45 years in prison.

Source: ABC
Image: Getty Images / Lalo Yasky