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Danny Masterson sentenced to 30 years to life for rape convictions

Actor Danny Masterson was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison Thursday after a jury convicted him earlier this year of raping two women 20 years ago, according to the Los Angeles district attorney’s office. Prosecutors said the rapes occurred in 2003 while Masterson, now 47, was starring in the hit sitcom “That ’70s Show.”

“This has been a long and arduous road for the victims of Mr. Masterson,” Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement to CBS News after the sentencing. “They not only survived his abuse, they also survived a system that is often not kind to victims.”

Masterson was convicted in May of raping a 28-year-old woman in April 2003 and a 23-year-old woman later that year, according to prosecutors. Both incidents happened at Masterson’s Hollywood Hills home.

CBS Los Angeles reportsMasterson has been in custody since his conviction. No cameras were allowed in court during Thursday’s sentencing. According to The Associated Press, Masterson wore a suit in court as his accusers addressed him directly.

“When you raped me, you stole from me,” said one of the women who Masterson was found guilty of attacking, according to the AP. “That’s what rape is, a theft of the spirit.”

“You are pathetic, disturbed and completely violent,” she said. “The world is better off with you in prison.”

The other woman told Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo, “I knew he belonged behind bars for the safety of all the women he came into contact with. I am so sorry, and I’m so upset. I wish I’d reported him sooner to the police.”

Masterson declined an offer to address the court, according to Reuters. His attorneys said what happened between him and the women was consensual. According to the AP, Masterson plans to appeal and he maintains his innocence.

Before announcing the sentence, Olmedo addressed Masteron, saying he might feel “victimized by a justice system that has failed you” because of his “claims of innocence,” according to the AP.

“But Mr. Masterson, you are not the victim here,” the judge said. “Your actions 20 years ago took away another person’s voice, and choice. One way or another you will have to come to terms with your prior actions, and their consequences.”

The jury didn’t reach a unanimous decision on a third count that alleged Masterson also raped a longtime girlfriend. Deliberations lasted for more than six days before Masterson was convicted on the two other counts.

Following Thursday’s proceedings, Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller told reporters prosecutors wouldn’t seek a new trial for the count that deadlocked the jury. He also said he wasn’t concerned about Masterson’s appeal plans.

Mueller said he was happy that Masterson’s accusers “got their justice.”

“This is a day for them,” the prosecutor said. “This is a moment for them.”

Gascón said the three women were brave for coming forward.

“Their courage and strength have been an inspiration to us all,” Gascón said in a statement after Masterson was convicted. “While we are disappointed that the jury did not convict on all counts, we respect their decision.”

Late last year, Olmedo declared a mistrial after a different jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict on any charges. In this year’s trial, Masterson didn’t testify, and his lawyers didn’t call any witnesses.

Masterson and his three accusers were all members of the Church of Scientology at the time of the incidents. The women testified that they reported Masterson to Scientology officials but were discouraged from going to the police and feared being excommunicated. The church denied blocking anyone from cooperating with authorities.

“I think the jury believed that, they believed the narrative that the Church of Scientology and its members would have retaliated against them if they had reported this,” CBS News legal contributor Jessica Levinson said following Masterson’s conviction. “And that’s why they waited, and that’s why they interacted with Danny Masterson in different ways and continued to interact with him.”

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