Danny Masterson Jury to Hear Read Back of Rape Testimony

Two prosecutors walking in suits and a separate photo of Danny Masterson and Bijou Phillips

(l-r) Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorneys Ariel Anson and Reinhold Mueller, actor and rape defendant Danny Masterson and his wife, Bijou Phillips. (Photos by Meghann M. Cuniff/Law&Crime)

Jurors in actor Danny Masterson’s rape trial will continue deliberating Wednesday after requesting to hear testimony from an alleged victim read aloud.

They left about 4 p.m. Tuesday and are to return to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo’s courtroom at 9 a.m. to hear the court reporter read aloud from the transcript of Chrissie Carnell-Bixler’s testimony about Masterson allegedly raping her in November 2001. Jurors emphasized they want to hear all testimony about the encounter, including cross-examination, and at a slow pace, which could take a few hours.

Carnell-Bixler is one of thee women Masterson is accused of raping between 2001 and 2003 at his former Hollywood Hills home. At the time, he was one of the most recognizable stars on TV, playing the role of Steven Hyde on That ’70s Show, and he and Carnell-Bixler were living together and in a romantic relationship.

But Masterson is also a lifelong member of the Church of Scientology, and his alleged victims testified about church members trying to downplay what happened to them while defending Masterson. The Church of Scientology denies any wrongdoing and says the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is trying to use Masterson’s religion against him.

Tuesday was the second full day of deliberations for the second rendition of the jury after two jurors were dismissed because of weekend COVID diagnoses. They were replaced with alternates.

Olmedo ordered deliberations to begin anew on Monday. The previous jury had announced in the middle of its third day of deliberations on Nov. 18 that they were unable to reach a consensus on any of Masterson’s three charges.

But instead of declaring a mistrial, Olmedo did what many California state judges do with hung juries and told them they hadn’t deliberated long enough to consider all the evidence and thus couldn’t declare themselves deadlocked. But the deadlocked jurors never continued deliberating. Instead, Olmedo sent them home and told them to return Nov. 28, which led to the two alternates moving in because of COVID diagnoses.

The original jury never publicly stated the nature of their split. The new jury stayed quiet all of Monday and most of Tuesday until requesting the read back of Carnell-Bixler’s testimony.

The read back will not include testimony from Carnell-Bixler’s husband, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, the lead singer of The Mars Volta who testified as a supporting witness for his wife but did not discuss the November 2001 incident.

Masterson, 46, faces 45 years to life in prison if convicted. He awaited the jury Tuesday in the hallway with family and friends, including his wife, Bijou Phillips.

Phillips has also been in court every day, and she’s often joined by her half-sisters, Chynna Phillips and Mackenzie Phillips. The Phillips sisters’ father was John Phillips, the late singer of the Mamas & the Papas. Chynna’s mother is Michelle Phillips, the band’s other lead singer, and her husband is actor Billy Baldwin, the second youngest of the four Baldwin brothers.

Masterson’s mother, Carol Masterson, has attended every day of his trial. His younger brothers Christopher Masterson and Jordan Masterson also are often at the courthouse, as is their sister, Alanna Masterson.

Read all past coverage of the Masterson trial here.

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