In Danny Masterson Trial, a Scientologist Called by Prosecutors Helps the Defense

Prosecutors in the Danny Masterson trial called a witness to the stand on Monday to back up a woman’s claim that the actor raped her.

But once on the stand, the witness, Shaun Fabos, offered a detail that was helpful to the defense. Fabos testified that he never saw bruises on the woman during a family trip to Florida. The woman had testified that she was visibly bruised on her hip and wrist area after the alleged rape in April 2003.

The testimony came as a surprise because Fabos had not revealed that he was on the trip in prior interviews with prosecutors. He said he first mentioned it only last Thursday to a defense investigator. Fabos further testified that though he had grown up in the Church of Scientology, he had only recently become deeply involved with it.

“I really became a Scientologist in the last two years,” he testified.

The testimony marked the most recent way in which the church and its practices have cast a shadow over the trial. Masterson is a lifelong Scientologist, and the woman who testified last week — who goes by Jane Doe #1 — is a former Scientologist. She has alleged that she faced the threat of excommunication from the church for reporting Masterson to the police, and still fears retaliation from the church for testifying.

Judge Charlaine Olmedo gave prosecutors permission to treat Fabos as a “hostile witness,” meaning they could ask him leading questions. She said that Fabos had been “evasive at times,” and compared the situation to a “gang witness” who might change their testimony based on who is in the audience.

“I think the inference that is coming out, as I understand it, is not that the defense would do something unseemly,” Olmedo said, “but that the witness, who is an active Scientologist, may be changing his testimony.”

Fabos was called as a witness because Jane Doe #1 had confided some details of the incident to him in a meeting at a coffee shop shortly after it happened. He testified that she told him she had woken up in Masterson’s bed, and that “something weird had happened and definitely foul play occurred.”

“That’s not OK,” Fabos told her in response, according to his testimony. “I’m going to beat the shit out of him.”

Jane Doe #1 urged him not to do anything. Days later, she called him and told him that in fact nothing untoward had happened. She would tell him several years later that she had denied the rape because she feared the consequences from continuing to talk about it, he testified.

Fabos initially failed to recall one detail of the alleged rape, in which Jane Doe #1 alleged that Masterson threw her into a jacuzzi. He later recalled that detail after being reminded of a phone call he had with Jane Doe #1 about the case in 2017. Jane Doe #1 testified last week that the police asked her to record phone calls. Fabos testified that he did not know that she was recording him.

On cross-examination, Fabos said he did not know whether Jane Doe #1 was raped or not. He also said that he had not brought up his recollection of the Florida trip because until last week, no one had asked.

“Has anyone from the Church of Scientology told you what to say?” asked Karen Goldstein, Masterson’s lawyer.

“No,” Fabos answered.

The next witness was Rachel Dejneka, a cousin of Jane Doe #1’s who was more helpful to the prosecution’s case. She recalled seeing bruises on the Florida trip, and that Jane Doe #1 seemed “afraid,” “not herself” and “not energetic” on the trip.

She also testified that Fabos was not there.

“He had gone to some trips with us,” she said. “I don’t believe he was at that particular trip that year.”

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