LOS ANGELES (AP) — A woman testified Friday that she was five years into a relationship with actor Danny Masterson when she awoke to find he had begun having sex with her as she slept, as happened often.
She didn’t want it, she said, but had always accepted it. This time, she fought back.
“I tried pushing him off me and saying no,” the woman, identified in court only as Christina B., said. “He wouldn’t stop. So I did something that I knew would make him angry and likely to get off me. I pulled his hair. He has these rules, ‘no touch hair rule,’ ‘no touch face rule.’ He had this thing about his hair, so I knew if I pulled it really, really hard, he would get off me. But what he did was he hit me.”
Christina B. was the second of three accusers of the 45-year-old “That ’70s Show” actor to testify in Los Angeles Superior Court at a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to order Masterson to stand trial on three counts of rape. Masterson has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer Thomas Mesereau said he would prove his innocence.
The incident Christine B. described came in November 2001, in the house she and Masterson would share throughout their six-year relationship. Under questioning from Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller, she said he hit her across the face with a loosely held fist then finally stopped, spat on her and called her “white trash.”
Mesereau, who will later have a chance to cross-examine Christine B., told the judge he would argue that the interaction was consensual.
The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they were victims of sexual abuse.
Christine B. said in another incident a month later that is not cited in the charges that she blacked out, woke in pain and learned from Masterson he had sex with her while she was unconscious. That prompted her to go to ethics officials at the Church of Scientology, which she had joined in 1996 at the urging of Masterson, a prominent member.
She said the officials convinced her she was not raped, and she did not go to police to report Masterson until 15 years had passed.
In court documents in a civil lawsuit filed by Masterson’s accusers, the Church of Scientology denied all of the women’s allegations.
The church has loomed large in the case in which the defendant and his three accusers were all devoted members at the time of the allegations from 2001 until 2003.
The two women who have testified at the hearing both spoke to church officials long before they went to police.
Mesereau said Tuesday before the hearing began that the prosecution is marked by “religious bias in the most blatant form” from the case’s prosecutors and lead detective.
And earlier Wednesday, he continued his cross-examination of the first witness, identified in court as Jen B., by trying to tie her to prominent voices who have spoken out against Scientology, including actor Leah Remini.
Jen B. acknowledged filming an interview with Remini for her show “Scientology and the Aftermath” in 2017, saying she did so because she worried that no charges would be brought against Masterson and she felt it might be her only chance to be heard.
She said no when Mesereau twice asked her whether she had been paid for the interview.
The lawyer also pressed her over what he said were inconsistencies and contradictions between her accounts to church officials and police in the months that followed the 2003 incident, and her testimony Tuesday.
It was familiar territory for Mesereau, who defended Michael Jackson in the 2005 trial that saw him acquitted of child molestation and defended Bill Cosby through two trials, the second of which brought his conviction for sexual assault in 2018.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton