Skip to main content

Increasing numbers of celebrity scandals involving sexual assault claims have come to light in the post-#MeToo era. And That ’70s Show alum Danny Masterson stands at the center of one of Hollywood’s most sordid stories. Masterson made his name as an ensemble player in TV comedies, but his acting career has tanked since he was hit with multiple rape charges. With his criminal trial set to begin this fall, his future hangs in the balance. Is Danny Masterson in jail while awaiting trial?

The actor rose to fame as a likable TV character

Danny Masterson began his entertainment career as a child. He started modeling at 4 and appeared in musicals at 8. His main source of work was commercials. By the time the curly-haired redhead was 16, he had starred in over 100 ads for brands like Frosted Flakes, Clorox, Hardee’s, Clearasil, and Volkswagen. 

He made his professional acting debut in 1988 on the show Jake and the Fatman before playing bit parts in other TV series (Roseanne, NYPD Blue, Party of Five) and movies (Beethoven’s 2nd, Face/Off, The Faculty). But his biggest role was as Steven Hyde on That ’70s Show, appearing in every episode of the original series and earning a Teen Choice Award for TV Choice Sidekick in 2000. Masterson also had a side business as a DJ and owned several restaurants. 

Rape accusations could land Danny Masterson behind bars

Is Danny Masterson in jail
Danny Masterson is arraigned on three rape charges at LA Superior Court on Sept. 18, 2020 | Lucy Nicholson/pool/AFP via Getty Images

Danny Masterson’s reputation as a comedic actor now stands in stark contrast to allegations of disturbing crimes. 

After a three-year investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, the actor was charged in June 2020 with raping three women: a 23-year-old between January and December 2001, a 28-year-old in April 2003, and another 23-year-old between October and December 2003. If Masterson is convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in a California prison. 

In the summer of 2021, a judge confirmed the case would go to trial after deciding enough evidence existed following a preliminary hearing where the three women testified. Masterson has maintained his innocence, and his legal team has used various tactics to delay the trial, to no avail. (Masterson has been out of jail on $3.3 million bail since June 2021.) This past February, he attempted to have all of the charges dismissed. The motion failed, and Masterson’s trial is set to begin October 11, the Los Angeles Times reports.

While the legal system deals with Masterson, the industry has turned its back on the actor. After the accusations became public in 2017, showrunners wrote him off The Ranch, a Netflix series in which he was a regular. He will also be noticably absent from That ’90s Showan upcoming spinoff featuring several That ’70s Show stars as guests or side characters. 

Danny Masterson’s wife threw herself into the crossfire


The Cast of ‘That ’70s Show’: Where Are They Now?

The actor’s wife, Bijou Phillips, has stood behind her husband. Although she hasn’t spoken publicly about the case, Phillips has been “a total rock” for Masterson the past couple of years. “She fully supports him and says they’ll get through this nightmare together and come out stronger,” an unnamed source told Us Weekly in January.

The two have been married since 2011, have a child, and are members of the controversial Church of Scientology. The church behind the controversial religion is also accused of interfering with the case.

In 2019, four women filed a lawsuit against Masterson, the Church of Scientology, and its leader, David Miscavige, for repeatedly harassing them after they brought their allegations to the police. Chrissie Carnell Bixler, one of the women named in the lawsuit, accused the church of fatally poisoning both of her dogs to intimidate her. An appeals court ruled in January 2021 that Masterson’s accusers do not have to take their case to a religious arbitration panel run by the Church of Scientology. 

How to get help: In the U.S., call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.