The Danny Masterson rape trial will take even longer to reach a conclusion after two jurors were dismissed on Monday. They both tested positive for COVID-19 and were replaced by two alternate jurors, reports The Los Angeles Times. This means that deliberations will have to completely restart from the beginning.
The trial finally began in early October, with the two sides resting their cases on Nov. 14. However, the 12-person jury could not reach a verdict by the week of Thanksgiving after over two and a half days of deliberations. The jury told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo they were still deadlocked on Nov. 18, but Olmedo ordered them to come back after the holiday to continue deliberating.
Masterson's attorney, Philip Cohen, objected to replacing the jurors and asked Olmedo to declare a mistrial. The prosecution did not object. "We're left with a situation, quite frankly, which is no surprise given what is happening with COVID," Cohen said Monday, reports the Times. "Now that jury that has spent two and a half days now starts anew with at least two new jurors."
The trial started with six alternate jurors, five of whom have already been called to join the jury. One was called in to replace a juror who was falling asleep and appeared to be snoring while witnesses delivered testimony. In that instance, attorneys for both sides agreed to have an alternate replace the juror.
Masterson, who starred as Steven Hyde on That '70s Show, was charged with the rape of three women between 2001 and 2003 in June 2020. The 46-year-old actor pleaded not guilty to the charges last year. After a delay, the trial finally began on Oct. 11 and lasted just over a month.
During the trial, the jury heard harrowing allegations from Masterson's accusers. One of the women, identified as Jane Doe #1, alleged that Masterson violently raped her in April 2003. The Church of Scientology has also played a role in the trial, as Masterson and all three alleged victims were members of the church at the time of the assaults. Olmedo allowed limited discussion of the church, and Jane Doe #1 testified that church officials forced her to "make peace" with Masterson after she was allegedly raped.