LOS ANGELES (AP) — Danny Masterson
, the actor from "That '70s Show," was ordered to stand trial
on three counts of rape
Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo of the Los Angeles County
Superior Court made the decision on the fourth day of a preliminary hearing during which the prosecution presented its evidence.
Three women testified on the stand, alleging that Masterson raped them in 2001 and 2003, and their testimony was dramatic and emotional.
Masterson has denied the allegations, and his attorney, Thomas Mesereau
, has stated that Masterson had consensual sex with the women and that he would prove his client's innocence.
Mesereau repeatedly pressed the women during the hearing about discrepancies in their stories in the years since they claimed they were raped, implying that the prosecution was tainted by anti-religious bias against the Church of Scientology.
Masterson is a prominent Scientologist, the three women are all former Scientologists, and the church and its teachings were mentioned frequently during testimony.
Since his arrest in June, the 45-year-old actor has been out on bail; he is charged with three counts of rape by force or fear and faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted.