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Danny Masterson Jurors Are Screened for Bias Against Scientology


Attorneys are set to offer opening statements within the Danny Masterson rape trial on Tuesday, as a jury is predicted to be chosen by mid-morning.

Over the past week, the preliminary pool of 225 potential jurors has been narrowed to about 85. On Monday, the protection and the prosecution started to query the potential jurors in open courtroom — in what is named voir dire — after an preliminary spherical of screening from Decide Charlaine Olmedo.

One of many key questions has been how a lot the potential jurors learn about Scientology. Masterson is a Scientologist and every of his three accusers was a Scientologist on the time of the alleged rape. The accusers — now all ex-Scientologists — have mentioned that they delayed going to the police out of concern that they may very well be excommunicated.

On the outset of his questioning, protection legal professional Philip Cohen emphasised that Scientology is just not on trial.

“Scientology is just not a celebration (within the case), however you’re going to listen to about it,” Cohen mentioned. “Whether or not you’re feeling so strongly about your faith — or so strongly towards different religions — that’s going to be a difficulty.”

Over the past a number of days, quite a few jurors have mentioned that they’ve seen or learn one thing about Scientology. By far the most well-liked supply of data was “Scientology and the Aftermath,” the A&E docuseries hosted by ex-Scientologist Leah Remini, a critic of the church. The 2-hour finale of that present, in 2019, included a dialogue of the Masterson case. Masterson’s legal professionals have argued that Remini is successfully a “sufferer advocate” for one of many accusers.

Most of the jurors who mentioned they watched the present have already been excused, although no purpose was given for his or her elimination.

The jurors who’re acquainted with the church haven’t been requested to supply any particulars of what they’ve seen or learn, in order to not taint the opposite jurors. One in all them mentioned he had learn quite a few articles concerning the church. Requested by the choose to say solely whether or not the articles have been optimistic or detrimental, he mentioned, “I don’t consider I’ve learn a optimistic article about that group.”

He was excused.

Many jurors mentioned they knew little or nothing concerning the church. A couple of recognized Tom Cruise as a Scientologist, however knew nothing past that about church beliefs and practices. Some mentioned that they had solely heard the identify “Scientology.”

“I’ve seen their majestic constructing,” mentioned one individual.

Not less than one individual mentioned she had learn L. Ron Hubbard’s “Dianetics,” or an identical ebook, and others mentioned that they had seen advertisements selling Scientology. A pair mentioned that they had seen TV advertisements through which L.A. mayoral candidate Rick Caruso assaults rival Karen Bass for showing at a Scientology occasion.

Solely two jurors mentioned that they had ever met a Scientologist. One mentioned he labored at an organization within the Nineties the place the proprietor, and many of the employees, have been Scientologists. He mentioned his co-workers didn’t speak a lot about their faith.

“I’ll have requested,” the individual mentioned. “It was a very long time in the past.”

That individual was excused. One other juror mentioned that he had associates who had left the church and who had complaints about it.

“They thought of it a traumatic expertise,” he mentioned. “I do know it’s a restrictive group.”

The juror mentioned that it might be arduous to place that apart and be honest. It appeared that the individual had been excused by lunchtime on Monday.

However the overwhelming majority of the jurors mentioned they may very well be honest to Masterson no matter his faith.

Addressing the jurors on Monday afternoon, Cohen referred to as Scientology “the elephant within the room.”

“Does Mr. Masterson’s former and present relationship and involvement and standing as a Scientologist have any influence on the way you view him with respect to the federal government’s burden to show the fees?” Cohen mentioned. “That is one thing I actually need to know.”

Nobody raised their hand.

The jurors have been additionally requested for his or her emotions concerning the #MeToo motion. One man expressed doubt about allegations from way back.

“Why does it take so a few years for somebody to return ahead?” he requested.

One other man, who described himself as a feminist, mentioned he felt an inclination to assist an accuser’s testimony.

“I feel a sufferer that has the braveness to take the stand — there could also be some component of fact,” he mentioned.

Requested if he would capable of put aside his predisposition and observe the choose’s directions, he mentioned, “I feel personally it might be problem to take action.”

Cohen thanked him for his honesty.

“That’s voir dire,” Cohen mentioned.


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