The first witness in the Danny Masterson trial broke down in tears on Wednesday as she told jurors that the actor had raped her in April 2003.
The woman, who prefers to be identified as Jane Doe #1, testified that she remembered waking up in Masterson’s bed, with him on top of her and penetrating her. She said she tried to shove him away with a pillow, but he grabbed her wrists with one hand and grabbed her throat with the other.
“I just couldn’t breathe,” she said, crying and daubing her face with a tissue. “He squeezed really, really hard.” She added that she felt “that I was going to die.”
“I can’t do this,” she said, a moment later, shaking her head. “I can’t do this.”
The court took a recess. Jane Doe #1 returned to the stand after the break and continued to testify.
Masterson is on trial for three counts of forcible rape that could send him to prison for 45 years to life. The trial began on Tuesday with heated conflict over how much the witnesses will be allowed to delve into issues relating to the Church of Scientology.
Masterson and all three of the accusers in the case were Scientologists at the time of the incidents. Judge Charlaine Olmedo has allowed limited discussion of the church to show the relationships between witnesses and their motivation.
But she has also tried to exclude testimony that would be, in legal terms, “more prejudicial than probative.” She drew the line on Tuesday when Jane Doe #1 testified that Scientology warns its members against “fraternizing with the enemy” — meaning non-Scientologists — and that the goal of Scientology is to “clear the world.”
Before testimony resumed Wednesday morning, Olmedo advised Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller to keep a tight rein on such testimony.
“This is a rape case,” the judge said. “Go to the incidents.”
Jane Doe #1 testified on Tuesday about her initial sexual encounter with Masterson in September 2002, in which she alleged that he anally 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 make peace” with Masterson. She also said she was required to complete a few weeks of “ethics programs,” and was given to understand that she was responsible for the encounter.
“My understanding, my entire life, was that you can never be a victim,” she testified. “Nothing ever happens to you that you didn’t cause. No matter what condition you find yourself in life, no matter how horrible, you are responsible. You created that.”
She went on to testify about the subsequent sexual incident from April 2003. She told the jury that she went to Masterson’s house, he gave her something to drink and then threw her into the jacuzzi. She said she began to feel like she would throw up, and she had trouble seeing.
She said Masterson volunteered to take her to a bathroom upstairs and put his fingers down her throat to get her to throw up. She said she resisted — saying “no” — but that Masterson picked her up and brought her up the stairs.
She said she vomited in the bathroom, and Masterson then dragged her into the shower and turned the water on. At some point, she realized Masterson was in front of her, soaping her breasts with his hands. She said she took a swing at him, but she felt weak and the punch did not land with much force.
Then, she said, Masterson picked her up and put her on the bed, where she passed out. When she awoke, she testified that Masterson was on top of her, with his full weight, penetrating her.
In the subsequent struggle, she said Masterson reached into a drawer in a nightstand and pulled out a gun. She said he held it up and said, “Shut the fuck up.”
“What did you feel?” Mueller asked.
“Fear,” she answered.
In the afternoon, Jane Doe #1 testified about her response to the incident. She said that at one point, she went to see her ethics officer, Julian Swartz. She said she understood that it was against church policy to report a Scientologist in good standing to the police, and that she could be declared a “suppressive person” for doing so.
“My understanding is I would immediately be guilty of a high crime. A high crime comes with a penalty of expulsion from Scientology,” she said. “My life would be over. My parents would have to disconnect from me. My daughter couldn’t go to her school… I wouldn’t have anywhere to work or live. I wouldn’t have anywhere to go.”
In April 2004, about a year after the alleged rape, Jane Doe #1 wrote a letter to the church’s International Justice Chief, who was responsible for overseeing all judicial matters for the church. She asked for permission to bring criminal charges against Masterson.
About a week later, the official wrote back, referring her to Scientology policies and saying that she must “apply LRH technology” to any problem.
On the witness stand, she said she interpreted that as denying her permission.
“He chose to point out that policy that said I can’t go to the police,” she testified.
In June 2004, she went to the LAPD anyway and filed a report against Masterson for rape. A short while later, she got a call from Swartz, the ethics officer. Swartz wanted to know why the LAPD had called him, and she said that she had given them his number.
“He said, ‘You’re fucked,’” she testified. “‘You have no idea how fucked you are.’”
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office opted not to press charges at the time — a decision that Jane Doe #1 said left her feeling “scared.”
Jane Doe #1 ultimately received $400,000 in a settlement with Masterson. She testified that she felt compelled to sign a settlement agreement, which included a non-disclosure provision. She said that had she not done so, church officials were preparing to declare her a suppressive person.
“I could enter into the NDA, or go get a declare,” she said.
Philip Cohen, Masterson’s attorney, began his cross-examination late Wednesday afternoon, and began to probe discrepancies between Jane Doe #1’s testimony and her initial account to the LAPD in 2004. Cohen is expected to resume cross-examination on Thursday morning.
Marty Singer, the attorney who negotiated the civil settlement on behalf of Masterson, is on the prosecution’s witness list for Thursday.