The cross-examination of Jane Doe #1 in the Danny Masterson rape trial continued Thursday and at times turned into a battle of wills between the witness and the defense, with the judge having to step in on a number of occasions.
With a degree of parrying between Jane Doe #1/Jen B and lead defense lawyer Phillip Cohen from the start of this morning’s proceedings in Los Angeles Superior Court, the attorney wasted little time seeking to shred the witness’ reconsideration of whether or not an alleged September 2002 sexual encounter with the That ’70s Show actor was consensual. It was a theme Cohen came back to again and again this morning.
Repeating his own questions when Jen B failed to give him the response he sought, a pacing Cohen also attempted to paint Jen B from the jump as looking to squeeze Masterson for cash in the pending civil lawsuit against him and the Church of Scientology.
Going through a list of damages in the 2019-filed case against the church over alleged surveillance and intimidation, Cohen elicited a “yes” over and over from the witness. However, with gentle guidance from Judge Charlene Olmedo on his approach, Cohen didn’t get every “yes” he wanted.
“I don’t know as I sit here,” Jen B responded when Cohen asked if she and her fellow civil plaintiffs, all ex-Scientologists, were seeking the possible big bucks of treble damages under California law.
First arrested in 2020 and free on just over a $3 million bail price tag, Masterson is looking at a possible maximum sentence of 45 years to life in California state prison if found guilty. The actor, who subsequently was fired from Netflix’s comedy The Ranch at the end of 2017 as claims became known, always has denied he had nonconsensual sex.
Shifting to Jen B’s meeting with the Los Angeles Police Department in June 2004, subsequent sit-downs with police detectives in 2016 and 2017 over the alleged rape or rapes by Masterson, and a 2017 meeting with Los Angeles County Assistant District Attorney Reinhold Mueller, Cohen picked up on what he previously termed as inconsistencies in Jen. B’s story.
In classic defense lawyer style, to quote Cohen from earlier Wednesday over the introduction of material from the non-disclosure agreement the witness signed in 2004 (in which she received $400,000 in installments(: “The fact that JB testified to something, doesn’t make it true.”
In that context, Jen B pushed back at one point to Cohen’s assertion that she did not speak to any LAPD officers between 2004 and 2016. Challenging the lawyer’s word of his question, the witness said that in fact she had spoken to front desk police officers on several occasions over those years. Alternately, then-second-generation Scientologist Jen B agreed she “may have” told the LAPD in 2004 that she didn’t remember all of the incident and that she didn’t want her church-member parents to find out what had happened with Masterson.
Cohen seemed to strike out with his efforts to display that Jen B had a problem with alcohol in the early 2000s. After a string of objections by the prosecution on the defense lawyer’s sharp line of questioning were sustained by the Los Angeles Superior Court judge, the jury was asked to leave the courtroom. Chastising Mueller for his constant objections, Olmedo sternly told Cohen that any witness’ past history of alcohol consumption and any other substance is “off-limits …unless it is directly relevant.”
“We’re not going to go there,” Olmedo emphatically told Cohen, pointing out that Jen B had actually testified earlier in the case that she felt she was intoxicated in 2002 in relation to the amount of alcohol she had consumed with Masterson and others. Standing his own ground, Cohen argued that Jen B had said otherwise on other occasions. Told by the judge to refocus his inquiries, the lawyer added that he believed it was relevant that Jen B had a low tolerance for booze because she had been apparently abstaining beforehand.
With the jury back in the room, Jen B agreed that she did have a low tolerance for alcohol in the fall of 2002.
The cross-examination soon moved to a sexual encounter between Jen B and Masterson in the latter’s Hollywood Hills home in September 2002. “I never said no,” the witness said of the vaginal sex the two had. Starting to cry, Jen B did say that she told Masterson not to touch her anus during the encounter.
Going into its scheduled morning break, the trial could hear from Hollywood heavyweight lawyer Marty Singer later in the day, depending on how much longer Jen B is on the stand. The pugilistic attorney represented Masterson, who went under the name of David Dunkin in the 2004 NDA that Jen B signed, as was detailed in Wednesday’s testimony.
On this day of the 2022 Great California ShakeOut earthquake preparedness in LA, there was also a small shakeup in the jury, with one of the panelists requesting to drop out due to “anxiety.” Coming off the intense testimony of Jane Doe #1/Jen B the day before, Olmedo conferred with attorneys on both sides and they agreed to replace the departing juror with one of the alternates randomly selected.
In a parallel move to the events unfolding in the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, the Church of Scientology on Wednesday filed paperwork to be allowed to put motions in the docket in the currently paused civil case that the three alleged victims in Masterson rape trial and others filed against the church. Initially filed in 2019, the suit claims that the plaintiffs have been harassed, stalked and even seen pets killed by the church and church affiliates for going to the LAPD with their allegations against Masterson.
Desiring to have the whole thing dealt with behind closed doors in “religious arbitration” as per contracts inked when the now former members joined the church, Scientology recently saw the Supreme Court reject its petition to take up that matter. That petition was in response to a California appellate court earlier this year deeming that the ex-church members had a First Amendment right to not be held to the stipulations of a religious organizations once they have left the group.
All parties have agreed over the past few months to have the civil matter stayed while Masterson’s criminal trial proceeds and a verdict is delivered.
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