Former Lawyers of Danny Masterson Sanctioned for Sharing Evidence with Church of Scientology
Danny Masterson, known for his role in “That ’70s Show” and convicted of rape, faced consequences as his ex-lawyers were sanctioned for leaking confidential discovery material to the Church of Scientology. The church has been accused of harassing Masterson’s victims over the years.
The Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, Charlaine Olmedo, ruled that defense attorneys Tom Mesereau and Sharon Appelbaum violated a court order and a law protecting victims’ personal information by sending discovery material from Masterson’s criminal case to the Church of Scientology lawyer Vicki Podberesky. Podberesky represents the church in a civil suit filed by Masterson’s victims, former members of the church who claim they were threatened not to report their assaults by the organization’s officials.
The leaked discovery material included sensitive information about the sexual assault victims, such as their addresses and correspondence with the police. Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller alerted the judge about the leaked materials, which contained emails, text messages, police reports, and photos related to the case. Mueller expressed concern that the church now had access to the victims’ redacted discovery material.
Podberesky utilized the confidential information to argue that prosecutors were seeking false testimony from the victims to secure Masterson’s conviction. However, the judge found Podberesky’s claim to be false and sanctioned the two lawyers for their violation of the court order.
As a result, Mesereau and Appelbaum, who were already replaced as Masterson’s legal team, have been ordered to pay $950 each in sanctions. Mesereau’s defense lawyer argued that there was no protective order prohibiting the sharing of discovery material, but the judge rejected this argument, emphasizing that she had repeatedly instructed the attorneys not to share any discovery with the lawyers involved in the civil case.
Masterson, a practicing Scientologist, was recently convicted of raping two women at his Los Angeles home in the early 2000s. The actor faced two out of three counts of rape in his second trial after the first trial ended in a deadlock. Masterson’s sentencing is scheduled for August 4th, and he could potentially face up to 30 years to life in prison.
In a separate civil case, Masterson and the Church of Scientology have been accused of stalking, harassing, and intimidating the victims to discourage them from speaking out about the abuse they endured.
The leak of confidential discovery material to the Church of Scientology has added another dimension to the legal proceedings surrounding Masterson, shedding light on the alleged harassment and intimidation faced by the victims throughout the years.