'That '70s Show' actor Masterson charged with multiple rapes


Los Angeles (AFP)

US actor and Scientologist Danny Masterson has been charged with raping three women at his home in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles prosecutors said Wednesday.

The star of television's "That '70s Show" and "The Ranch" allegedly raped the women, all in their twenties at the time, "by force or fear" in separate incidents between 2001 and 2003.

Masterson, 44, who has denied sexual assault allegations in the past, faces a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in prison if convicted on all charges.

Prosecutors dropped two further sexual assault cases against Masterson over lack of evidence and the statute of limitations passing, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said.

Masterson rose to fame with the 1998 launch of retro sitcom "That '70s Show", where he played the character of Steven Hyde alongside fellow stars Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher.

He co-starred again with Kutcher on Netflix's "The Ranch," but was fired in 2017 and written off the show after Los Angeles police confirmed they were investigating multiple rape allegations against the actor.

At the time, Masterson said the claims were motivated by the producer of an anti-Scientology television series.

Four women last year filed a lawsuit against Masterson and the Church of Scientology alleging they were stalked, harassed and intimidated after reporting abuse to Los Angeles police.

Masterson described the allegations last year as "beyond ridiculous."

His representatives did not immediately respond to request for comment Wednesday.

His arraignment is scheduled for September.