Danny Masterson suffered a major blow at his serial sex assault trial Monday when a Los Angeles judge reversed course and decided a fourth Jane Doe accuser can testify that the actor and prominent Scientologist raped her.
Masterson, best known for playing Steven Hyde on Fox’s That ‘70s Show from 1998 to 2006, is facing charges he forcibly raped three women — all former Scientologists — between 2001 and 2003.
Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller previously sought to include the fourth accuser to show Masterson had a modus operandi. According to Variety, the woman is expected to testify that Masterson had sex with her twice while she was passed out drunk in 1996.
Judge Olmedo reportedly said Monday that she changed her mind regarding Jane Doe 4 after Masterson’s lead defense lawyer, Philip Cohen, surprised her with his presentation to jurors so far. The judge said she expected the defense would argue the three Jane Does had consented to their alleged encounters with Masterson, but then Cohen left her feeling “caught off guard” when he suggested some of the sex accusations never even took place, Variety reports.
The judge also reportedly said Cohen opened a door when he told jurors the three women have sued Masterson and the Church of Scientology for monetary damages.
“Both of these two approaches have occurred since the trial began, and have changed the court’s analysis,” Olmedo said, according to Variety.
Cohen did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Rolling Stone on Monday.
The three accusers whose rape claims led to criminal charges have already testified in the case. Jane Doe 1 told jurors last month that Masterson raped her and put a gun to her head after feeding her a fruity vodka cocktail at his home in 2003. She claimed the actor threatened her and demanded that she not tell her friends, including Lisa Marie Presley, about the alleged assault. “You’re not going to tell fucking Lisa,” Jane Doe 1 said Masterson told her.
Jane Doe 3, who has publicly identified herself as Chrissie Carnell Bixler, later testified that Masterson raped her twice at the end of 2001, toward the end of a troubled domestic relationship. She said the first assault involved Masterson initiating penetrative sex with her while she was sleeping.
“I woke up and he was having sex with me. I did not want to. I told him so, I told him, ‘No,’ many times,” she testified. “He wouldn’t stop. I was trying to push him off me. He pushed my arms back and put his forearm on my arm. I felt trapped.”
Carnell Bixler testified Masterson also struck her in the face, spit on her, and called her “white trash” when she pulled his hair to defend herself. She testified the second attack involved Masterson penetrating her anally while she was passed out.
Jane Doe 2, meanwhile, alleges Masterson raped her at his home in late 2003 after feeding her a glass of wine that caused her to feel limp. She claims the actor ignored her pleas to stop and overpowered her.
For his part, Masterson has called the women’s allegations “outrageous” and “ridiculous.”