A legal bid by Danny Masterson to force the court to toss his felony rape case has been rejected by Judge Ronald S. Coen, Rolling Stone reports.
Masterson claimed that his civil rights were violated at a probable cause hearing last year when a different judge, Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo, limited cross-examination of the three women accusing him of sexual assault. His lawyers also objected to Judge Olmedo’s decision to consider the book Introduction to Scientology Ethics when she ruled that the former That 70’s Show star would stand trial. They especially protested her interpretation of the book, and her conclusion that it was “credible” that the accusers, who practiced Scientology at the time, believed their religion prohibited them from talking about the assaults with law enforcement.
Masteron’s legal team said that in doing so, Olmeda had tried to resolve “inconsistencies” in the women’s stories, and that “by interpreting church doctrine” she had violated the First Amendment. Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller disagreed.
“This has nothing to do with a secular court somehow interfering with church doctrine,” Mueller argued during the hearing on February 8th. “The evidence was admitted by the defense, and for the court, it is absolutely permissible to review that evidence for the purposes of the state of mind of the witnesses and their credibility.”
Judge Coen agreed. “I find that the testimony of [the alleged victims] is credible, and I believe it’s sufficient to support the charges,” he ruled. “There is sufficient evidence to deny the [dismissal motion], and it’s denied.”
With Judge Coen’s ruling, the case returns to Judge Olmeda’s courthouse where Masterson’s trial will begin on August 29th. The actor has pleaded not guilty.