That ’70s Show actor Danny Masterson has appeared in court on charges of raping three women at his home between 2001 and 2003.
Masterson, 44, did not enter a plea as he stood in court in a blue suit and face mask, while the three women sat in the gallery.
His lawyer, Tom Mesereau, said the actor is “absolutely not guilty” and claimed he had been unfairly harassed by prosecutors as the district attorney faces re-election.
The actor has previously denied the charges and said he was being persecuted for being a member of the Church of Scientology.
Masterson starred as Steven Hyde on the retro sitcom That ’70s show alongside Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace.
He was due to appear in Netfliz show The Ranch in 2017 but was removed over the rape allegations.
The 44-year-old was arrested in June this year and charged with three counts of rape by force or fear.
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Prosecutors allege he raped a 23-year-old woman sometime in 2001, a 28-year-old woman in April 2003, and a 23-year-old woman between October and December 2003.
Each of the attacks allegedly took place in his home.
If convicted, Masterson could face up to 45 years in prison.
The women said in a statement when Masterson was arrested that they had suffered “harassment, embarrassment and re-victimisation” since they began co-operating with authorities but added they were “thankful that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office is finally seeking criminal justice”.
Mr Mesereau, who also represented Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson in their sexual misconduct cases, said there had been “repeated attempts to politicise” the case.
But deputy district attorney Reinhold Mueller said the defence’s remarks were “pure speculation, with no basis in fact”.
The defence has filed documents asking the criminal complaint against Masterson to be thrown out as insufficient.
There will be a hearing on the issue before the actor is asked to enter a plea.