After a judge ruled last month that Danny Masterson must stand trial on three counts of rape, the actor now has a pre-trial court hearing date scheduled for Aug. 9, 2021.
The “That ’70s Show” star, 45, appeared in court for his arraignment at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles on Monday where Masterson entered into a not guilty plea to three charges of rape by force or fear, stemming from incidents that reportedly occurred in the early 2000s, Fox News has confirmed.
Masterson, who previously pleaded not guilty to the same rape charges in January, relinquished his passport as well on Monday and a penciled-in court date for his trial was set for this November, according to Deadline.
Speaking briefly with Judge Eleanor Hunter, the actor also waived his right to a speedy trial – a move likely in an attempt for his legal counsel to prolong or scrap the looming trial date altogether.
Prosecutors have alleged that Masterson, who has been free on a $3.3 million bond since his June 17 arrest, raped a 23-year-old woman sometime in 2001, a 28-year-old woman in April of 2003, and a 23-year-old woman between October and December of 2003. All of the alleged sexual assault incidents happened at his Hollywood Hills home.
The “Ranch” performer was ordered to stand trial on May 21 by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo, who maintained that she “found all three witnesses to be credible and the evidence sufficient to support the charges.”
Tom Mesereau, a member of his legal counsel, declared in September that the charges filed against Masterson by Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey are based on events that took place nearly 20 years ago, and further claimed they were applied out of pressure to prosecute Masterson as Lacey faces an election, as well as the result of unfair hype from media outlets.
“There have been repeated attempts to politicize this case,” said Mesereau, who also represented Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson in their sexual misconduct cases. “He is absolutely not guilty and we’re going to prove it.”
Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller called the statements “pure speculation, with no basis in fact.”
Mesereau pressed the court that the media presence would be unfairly prejudicial to Masterson and taint potential jurors.
“We want to do anything we can to tone down the cameras and the circus-like atmosphere that have pervaded this case,” the attorney said. “We’re just trying to protect his rights.”
In March, Mesereau accused law enforcement of leaking critical information in the actor’s rape case, reports said.
The Daily Mail reported at the time that Mesereau suggested the leaks may have come from cops or the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.