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A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of That ’70s Show actor Danny Masterson, who was facing three rape charges.

Jurors told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo that they were hopelessly deadlocked, having voted seven times on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The 46-year-old is accused of raping three women, including a former girlfriend, in his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003.

Two of the women were 23, and the other was 28.

Masterson denies the charges and said the sex was consensual.

Jurors first told the judge they could not reach verdicts on 18 November but were given time off during Thanksgiving week before being asked to try again.

Two jurors caught COVID-19 on Monday, forcing a restart in deliberations, but two days later verdicts remained elusive, with the foreman saying two jurors voted for conviction on the first count, four on the second count and five on the third count.

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A retrial will be held in March.

The actor has appeared in court

Masterson is a member of the Church of Scientology, and his three accusers were at the time of the alleged crimes.

Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller claimed it had taken two decades for the case to get to trial because the church had tried to keep the women quiet.

The women have launched a lawsuit against the church, saying they were intimidated, harassed and stalked after Masterson was charged.

But Masterson’s lawyer Philip Cohen said the church had been mentioned 700 times during the trial and was an excuse for the prosecution’s failure to build a believable case.

Masterson, who has previously said he is being persecuted for being a member of the church, did not testify and his lawyer focused instead on inconsistencies in evidence from the three women.

During closing arguments, he said: “The key to this case is not when they reported it.

“It’s what they said when they reported it, what they said after they reported it, and what they said at trial.”

Two of the women said Masterson gave them drinks and they became dizzy or passed out before being raped, while the third – the ex-girlfriend – said she woke up to find Masterson raping her.

Mr Cohen said jurors could acquit Masterson if they thought he “actually and reasonably believed” the women consented but Mr Mueller said nobody would believe there was consent, with one of the women repeatedly telling Masterson “no”.

Masterson found fame as Steven Hyde on sitcom That ’70s Show, alongside co-stars Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace.

He worked with Kutcher on Netflix comedy The Ranch but was written out of the show after it was revealed that police were investigating him in late 2017.

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Alan Cumming gives back OBE over links to ‘toxic’ British Empire

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Alan Cumming gives back OBE over links to 'toxic' British Empire

Alan Cumming has given back his OBE, expressing concern over its links to what he describes as the “toxicity” of the British Empire.

The actor said he had made the decision to return the award after listening to conversations about the future of the Royal Family after the Queen’s death.

Cumming was made an OBE in 2009 as part of the Queen’s birthday honours, being recognised for acting, as well as the work he does to campaign for LGBTQ+ rights in the US.

He said at the time that he was “shocked and delighted” to be given the honour.

Writing on Instagram on his 58th birthday, he said: “The Queen’s death and the ensuing conversations about the role of monarchy and especially the way the British Empire profited at the expense (and death) of indigenous peoples across the world really opened my eyes.

“Fourteen years ago, I was incredibly grateful to receive it in the 2009 Queen’s birthday honours list, for it was awarded not just for my job as an actor but ‘for activism for equal rights for the gay and lesbian community, USA’.

“Back then the Defence of Marriage Act ensured that same-sex couples couldn’t get married or enjoy the same basic legal rights as straight people, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ensured that openly gay, lesbian or bisexual people were barred from serving in the military.”

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He added: “Thankfully, times and laws in the US have changed, and the great good the award brought to the LGBTQ+ cause back in 2009 is now less potent than the misgivings I have being associated with the toxicity of empire (OBE stands for Officer of the British Empire).

“So, I returned my award, explained my reasons and reiterated my great gratitude for being given it in the first place. I’m now back to being plain old Alan Cumming again. Happy birthday to me!”

Cumming is best known for his roles in Goldeneye and the Spy Kids trilogy, as well as for his stage work, with his credits including Cabaret, for which he won a Tony Award, and Endgame.

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Sandi Toksvig says archbishop told her progress on same-sex marriage in Church of England will be ‘glacial’

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Sandi Toksvig says archbishop told her progress on same-sex marriage in Church of England will be 'glacial'

The Archbishop of Canterbury has conceded progress on same-sex marriage in the Church of England would be “glacial”, Sandi Toksvig has said.

The comedian revealed she had met Justin Welby for a “long-promised coffee” and the meeting had been “calm and considered”, but the church‘s current position was “untenable”.

In a video she said it was clear the “Church of England and the society it purports to represent are not remotely in step”.

They met after she expressed her dismay last year that Mr Welby had reaffirmed the validity of a 1998 declaration by the church that gay sex was a sin.

The archbishop has recently said he welcomed the Church of England’s proposals to bless same-sex married couples, but said he would not personally carry them out due to his “pastoral relationship for the whole communion”.

“Yesterday I went to have coffee, tea, actually, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, not a sentence I thought would ever come out of my mouth,” Toksvig said in her video.

“From our very calm and considered conversation yesterday, it is very clear that the State’s Church of England and the society it purports to represent are not remotely in step.

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“Justin was keen for me to see that they are moving forward, but conceded that any progress, as I would see it, if it happens at all, will be glacial.”

She said it was also “very clear” opposing factions of the worldwide Anglican Communion were being “in part held together at the expense of the human rights of the LGBT+ community”.

“It’s not okay. And I said so,” she said.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

Toksvig asked Archbishop to come out as gay ally

She continued: “I asked Justin if he could just come out. I don’t mean to make a surprise announcement about his sexuality, but come out as a gay ally.

“Basically, to come up for love, love for all without exceptions, and not the current Orwellian position, where it would seem we are all created equal, but some are more equal than others.

“I hope that will happen, but I do not intend to wait upon the church.

“In the next few weeks, I will be reaching out to the LGBT+ community and all our allies to see what can be done.

“The present position is untenable. In the meantime, please. Let’s all come out for love.”

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‘Church deeply divided’ on same-sex marriage

Church apologises for ‘shameful’ treatment of LGBTQI+ people

Last week the church formally apologised for its “shameful” treatment of LGBTQI+ people.

It came after it said it would refuse to allow same-sex couples to get married in its churches, but would bless same-sex civil marriages for the first time.

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Kanye West a ‘danger to my children’, Jewish comedian David Baddiel says

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Kanye West a 'danger to my children', Jewish comedian David Baddiel says

Allowing Kanye West to start tweeting again would be “dangerous for Jews” and “dangerous for my children”, David Baddiel has told Sky News.

The Jewish author and comedian also said he considers the musician to be racist.

West is currently suspended from Twitter for tweeting an image of a swastika hours after praising Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

The musician, 45, posted the grossly offensive image only two weeks after being allowed back on the site following a previous ban.

Baddiel said he understood why Twitter owner Elon Musk might consider another reprieve for the rapper.

“Kanye being let back onto that platform seems to be part of Elon Musk trying to make (it) less dominated by the progressive left,” Baddiel told the Beth Rigby Interviews programme.

“I’m not bothered about those arguments. I’m bothered about what is dangerous for Jews. What is dangerous for my children.

“I do think it’s dangerous. I think it’s actively dangerous.”

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Beth Rigby Interviews… David Baddiel

Regarding West’s motivation, Baddiel said antisemitism is “often seen by people as punching up”.

He continued: “So they don’t see it as racism, because what they see is that Jews are powerful.

“So Kanye will say things like, Jews are in control of the music business, I’m finally throwing off the shackles of how Jews won’t let me speak about this, because they’re in control.”

West has previously accused record producer Sean “Diddy” Combs of being controlled by “the Jewish people” in a post on Instagram.

Baddiel went on: “It comes from a sense of, this is a rebel yell against a race that is controlling us, and the problem with that is it doesn’t sound like a far-right person saying ‘look at these scum, I’m just going to kill them’.

“It sounds like someone fighting the good fight. And that is actually what Hitler, who Kanye has said he’s an admirer of, that is also how Hitler sounded to some people.”

In an interview with the conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, West said: “I like Hitler.”

West retains the ability to influence people, Baddiel said. “Kanye, because he’s a brilliant hip hop artist, has got a really powerful voice,” he pointed out.

Asked whether West is racist, Baddiel said: “I think what he said is antisemitic. And I think antisemitism is racism. Yes.”

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Jason Le, pictured here in 1999, received an apology from David Baddiel over portrayals on the TV show Fantasy Football League
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Jason Lee, pictured here in 1999, received an apology from David Baddiel over portrayals on the TV show Fantasy Football League

Baddiel also discussed his recent apology to the ex-footballer Jason Lee, for the way he portrayed him in sketches in his 1990s television series Fantasy Football League.

“As I became more aware of racism directed against me, as well as being hurt or upset by that, or thinking this is weird, this clearly really racist thing – that I am guilty of the same thing,” he said.

“And that brought it home to me over time, over much too much time, that I should apologise to Jason Lee.

“When I (made a) documentary, I thought I should go and film a face-to-face apology. And thankfully Jason was up for doing that, and it was really difficult. He didn’t in any way let me off.”

Baddiel said he “felt terrible”, “totally felt terrible”.

He told Beth Rigby: “At the end of it, I went up to him, and I just said, look, sorry again, and thank you for seeing me.

“And he just shook my hand and said, no, it’s done now.

“Meaning we’ve done it now, and we can move on. Which is important for me, and important for him.

“It was difficult. It should be difficult.”

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