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Disney Exec Meddled in Danny Masterson Rape Saga Before Trial

former actor danny masterson
Credit: The Things/Canva

Actor Danny Masterson was sentenced on Thursday following a jury’s conviction of Masterson in the sexual assaults of two women more than 20 years ago. As the case wraps up following the penalty phase, new light has been shed on a Disney executive’s involvement in the saga before the former star was brought to trial.

Danny Masterson retrial: 'That '70s Show' star gets 30 years to life

Actor Danny Masterson/Credit: USA Today

On Thursday, Danny Masterson was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for the 2003 rapes of two women. Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo handed down the sentence to the disgraced actor in Los Angeles Superior Court after listening to statements from his accusers about how his actions have forever impacted their lives and after denying a motion from the former star for a new trial.

In May, a jury comprised of five men and seven women found Masterson guilty of raping two women in his Los Angeles home in 2003. But the jury was split on an additional charge related to the former actor’s ex-girlfriend, Chrissie Carnell-Bixler, who has been very vocal about being one of Masterson’s victims.

Unrelenting Harassment of the Victims

The plaintiffs in the case were allegedly victimized again and again, as they were harassed, bullied, and accused of lying about the assaults–and their accusers were many, including the Church of Scientology, an exec at Netflix, and a Disney executive as well.

Masterson’s case garnered widespread attention because of allegations that the Church of Scientology had dissuaded Masterson’s accusers from reporting the assaults. Per The Hollywood Reporter:

Prosecutors pushed to have the Church of Scientology play a prominent role in the trial. Masterson’s accusers claimed that the organization discouraged them from reporting that they were sexually assaulted. They testified that they feared being labeled a “suppressive person” within the church, which would lead to their expulsion and isolation from other members, and were told that the accusations would be internally handled.

Scientology

Credit: History

Allegations against the church were allowed to be considered to explain why the accusers, all of whom are former Scientologists, didn’t contact law enforcement immediately after the alleged assaults.

When asked whether the organization could face obstruction of justice charges, Reinhold Mueller, a deputy district attorney who led the prosecution, said, “I can’t confirm or deny anything about that.” He also denied accusations from the church that the prosecution was engaging in religious discrimination.

Disney Exec Oversteps the Boundaries

The Huffington Post reported that in late 2017, after accusations were made against the That 70s Show actor, one of Masterson’s assault victims told a reporter that Netflix’s director of global kids’ content, Andy Yeatman, told her that top execs at Netflix didn’t believe the allegations of four women who accused the former actor of rape. Netflix confirmed that Yeatman had made the “careless” and “uninformed” comments to the woman, who he did not realize was among Masterson’s accusers.

walt disney company headquarters

Credit: Disney

In response, Yeatman’s wife, Lilly Yeatman, a Disney executive, sent an email to the woman’s husband, chastising him for his wife’s statements about Yeatman’s comments. Lilly was working as the Senior Director of  Marketing and Commercial Strategy for Signature Experiences at The Walt Disney Company, at the time, per her LinkedIn profile, and sent the email from her corporate email account.

Yashar Ali with The Huffington Post shared an email on X, formerly Twitter, that included the image of an email allegedly sent to the husband of one of Masterson’s accusers, telling him that his wife had “done a terrible thing to a really great guy.” Yeatman goes on to tell the husband, “What your wife did . . . is inexcusable. I hope you know the heartache your family has now caused for ours.”

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It’s unclear whether Disney ever addressed the issue with Yeatman–or whether the company ever knew about the email.

30 Years to Life

Masterson is best known for playing the role of Steven Hyde in the sitcom That 70s Show from 1998 to 2006 alongside actors Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderrama. From 2016 to 2018, Masterson starred in the Netflix comedy series, The Ranch alongside actors Sam Elliott, Ashton Kutcher, and Elisha Cuthbert.

That '90s Show': Danny Masterson Reacts to Netflix's 'That '70s Show' Spinoff

Danny Masterson, far right, on the set of “That 70s Show”/Credit: PopCulture

Masterson was sentenced to “30 years to life” for his crimes, but according to criminal defense attorney Joshua Ritter, a partner with El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers and a former Los Angeles County prosecutor, the disgraced actor “will likely have to do 85% of that time, about 25 and a half years.”

“Despite persistent harassment, obstruction, and intimidation, these courageous women helped hold a ruthless sexual predator accountable today, and they are not stopping there,” said Alison Anderson, a lawyer for the women. They are eager to soon tell the fuller story of how Scientology and its enablers tried desperately to keep them from coming forward.”

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!