Examples of Sex Crimes Involving Celebrities and Disputes Over Consent
On or about May 10, 2010, former superstar film titan Harvey Weinstein (then age 58) allegedly tried to rape a would-be actress in his suite at the Beverly Hills five-star Peninsula Hotel. As was proven at his New York City trial on similar charges, which resulted in his conviction and a 23-year prison sentence, Weinstein’s M.O. – at least in those cases – was to rent a five-star hotel suite then hold “auditions” for unsuspecting beautiful, young women. Then, as soon as he was alone with them, he would attack.
Almost nine-and-a-half years later in Oct. 2019, this alleged victim finally filed a police report with the Beverly Hills PD, which was conducting a joint investigation with LAPD against Weinstein.
In January 2020, Weinstein was hit with a slew of charges by the DA’s Office relating to similar alleged attacks on two other women seven years earlier. Specifically, he was charged with the following sex offenses:
- Forcible Rape (California Penal Code section 261(a)(2));
- Oral Copulation by Force, Fear, or Threats (California Penal Code section 287);
- Forcible Sexual Penetration (California Penal Code section 289); and
- Sexual Battery of a Restrained Victim (California Penal Code section 243.4(a)).
On or about April 9, 2020, the DA’s Office amended the criminal complaint against Weinstein and finally charged him with Sexual Battery of a Restrained Victim for allegedly sexually assaulting the woman at the Peninsula Hotel almost a decade earlier. (The applicable limitations period for this particular offense is a decade so the case was filed just under the statutory wire.)
If convicted of all charges, Weinstein could receive as much as three decades behind bars – a sentence that almost certainly would not run concurrently to his current 23-year stretch. In addition, because of the New York convictions for similar charges, those will be considered as Strike Offenses (California Penal Code section 667(a)&(b); California Penal Code section 667.5 (“Violent Felonies”); California Penal Code section 1192.7 (“Serious Felonies”).)
As a result, if convicted of the current charges, Weinstein will have to serve at least 85% of the sentence, even with good behavior.
In the early years of the 2000s decade, numerous women were allegedly drugged and raped by actor/producer/Scientologist Danny Masterson (That ’70s Show, Netflix’s The Ranch) at his mansion above Sunset Blvd.
In early March 2017, an LAPD spokesperson announced that Masterson (age 39 at the time) was a suspect in those alleged rapes, and requested that other potential victims come forward. Five women ultimately did so, including Chrissie Bixler and his former paramour, actress Bobette Riales. At least three of the five alleged victims were also Scientologists.
In addition, at least two of the women claimed that Masterson had engaged in nonconsenual intercourse with them while they were sleeping at his residence — after being allegedly drugged by him without their knowledge.
Not surprisingly, Masterson publicly denied all of the accusations, claiming that all of the sexual encounters had been completely consensual. For example, he claimed that one of the purported victims had been in a romantic relationship with him for half-a-dozen yrs., that the alleged rape occurred in the middle of that period, and that afterwards they’re romantic relationship continued. He even claimed that after he had broken up with her, she continued to pursue him, thereby intimating that her allegations were motivated by revenge.
Masterson also blamed former Scientologist and actress Leah Remini, claiming her hit TV series prompted the women to come forward solely for the purpose of smearing the “church”.
In Dec. 2017 (seven months after the LAPD’s announcement), Netflix terminated Masterson’s involvement with the hit series The Ranch. Shortly thereafter, his talent agency also dropped him. Since then, he has stayed out of the public eye (aside from his court appearances, of course).
On June 17, 2020, LAPD arrested Masterson on suspicion of, and the DA’s Office prosecuted him for, three counts of Forcible Rape (California Penal Code section 261(a)(2)), as well as multiple counts of Rape of an Intoxicated Person (California Penal Code section 261(a)(3)).
The three purported victims — women whose ages then ranged from twenty-three to twenty-eight – were allegedly raped between 2001 and 2003, again, at his residence. If Masterson is convicted of all charges, he could face almost five decades in a state penitentiary.
Notably, the DA’s Office rejected the rape allegations from the other two accusers because the applicable limitations periods had expired. Masterson’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss the other three rape allegations based on the same grounds but the court denied it.
See Sex Crimes Statutes of Limitations (California Penal Code section 801.1).
After posting almost three-and-a-half million dollars, Masterson bailed out of jail.
On or about January 20, 2021, at his arraignment, Masterson pleaded not guilty. Because of Covid-related continuances, his preliminary hearing – where the judge decides whether there is sufficient evidence (i.e., a 51% or more probability) to hold him over to trial – will not take place until May 24th.
Stanford’s Brock Turner
In mid Jan. 2015, Stanford University sophomore and swim team member Brock Turner (nineteen) sexually assaulted fellow co-ed Chanel Miller (twenty-two) while she lay unconscious after having consumed too much alcohol. More specifically, Turner penetrated Miller’s vagina with his fingers while pushing down his pants as he was apparently intending to have intercourse with her.
As they were both laying prone behind a dumpster on campus, two other male students spotted them and yelled at Turner, who jumped to his feet and took off running. The two young men chased after him, tackled him, and held him down until police arrived and arrested him. He bailed out that same day, not many hours after Miller regained consciousness at the hospital.
As a result, the Santa Clara County DA’s Office prosecuted Turner on the following charges:
- Rape of an Intoxicated Person (California Penal Code section 261(a)(3));
- Forcible Sexual Penetration of an Unconscious Person (California Penal Code section 289(d));
- Attempted Rape (California Penal Code § 664);
- Assault with Intent to Commit Rape (California Penal Code section 220(a)(1));
- Felony Sexual Battery (California Penal Code section 243.4(e)(1)); and
- Sexual Penetration of an Intoxicated Person (California Penal Code section 289(e)).
Brock rolled the dice and went to trial, which culminated at the end of March 2016, when, following only a few days of deliberating, the jury acquitted him of all but the sexual penetration charges. (Prosecutors were unable to prove that his penis had made contact with Miller’s vagina.) Notwithstanding, the prosecution asked the judge to give Turner six years out of a maximum of fourteen.
Six months later, in early Sept., the judge shocked many people, not least of all Miller herself, by sentencing Brock to only six months in jail, 36 months of formal probation, 52 weeks of sexual compulsion therapy, and lifetime registration. With good behavior, he was released halfway through his sentence.
The public outcry ultimately resulted in the judge being recalled, which I thought was unfair. Specifically, for a first-time offender with an otherwise stellar life and bright future, the sentence was not unduly short.
Indeed, the evidence presented at trial established that Turner was so drunk himself that he was unable to achieve an erection. More importantly, he was so intoxicated that he claimed he believed Miller had consented to “hooking up” after they both left a frat party together. The sentence was also supported by the the probation department’s report, which cited Turner’s expressed remorse and his degree of intoxication, which both served as mitigating factors.
Finally, the deluge of letters from highly accomplished individuals who knew Turner and pleaded for leniency also clearly affected the judge’s decision.
Notably, the same week Turner left jail, the California legislature approved Assembly Bill number 2888 (AB 2888) — authored by the Santa Clara DA’s Office — that mandated prison terms for defendants convicted of sexually assaulting intoxicated or unconscious individuals. As a result, anyone convicted of one of these crimes will receive a minimum of three years in prison. Prior thereto, no minimum sentence was required in the absence of violence, force, threats, or duress.
See also: latimes.com.
Not surprisingly, Turner appealed his conviction on or about August 10, 2018, but the Court of Appeal denied his petition. And I forgot to mention that he was expelled from Stanford after his arrest.
LADALF Cases Involving Issues of Legal Consent/Consensual Intercourse
My Client was Labeled a Serial Rapist by the DA’s Office, Police, and Local Media
People v. Corey Stewart (Torrance Courthouse, May 2014):
One of the most high-profile cases I’ve ever handled began when Corey’s family hired me in or about January 2014 to defend him against two counts of Forcible Rape (California Penal Code section 261), for which he was facing two possible life sentences.
Corey’s arrest occurred after he was falsely accused by a woman who told police he had kidnapped her at gunpoint, forced her into his white SUV – which she claimed had special locks installed to prevent her from escaping – and repeatedly raped her on a side street in an industrial neighborhood. As a result, he was ultimately forced to waste a year plus two months of his life in county jail awaiting trial.
While he was incarcerated, a second accuser came forward after seeing his mugshot splashed across the evening news with the moniker “the South Bay Rapist”, and claimed he had also raped her years earlier.
In any event, Corey’s previous lawyer had failed to do much on his case, which is why his family replaced him with me. By that point, Corey had spent about ten months behind bars.
For the next four months, as I prepared for jury trial, my private investigator, GPS expert, and I conducted an in-depth investigation. First, I discovered that neither Corey nor anyone he knew possessed or otherwise had access to a white SUV.
Nor did Corey – who had never been in trouble before – have access to any guns, much less have one registered in his or his family members’ names. I also learned from the accuser’s private social media postings that she was a con woman who frequently bilked unsuspecting men out of money in a so-called “lonely hearts” scam.
But I truly struck gold on the eve of trial when my GPS expert came through in a major way by providing me irrefutable evidence that according to Corey’s cell phone pings that day, he was nowhere near where the first accuser claimed he had raped her.
On the first day of jury trial, I put all my cards on the table and presented all of the foregoing evidence to the prosecutor who, along with the investigating detectives, immediately re-interviewed the first accuser. Incredibly (or perhaps not), she told them a completely different set of lies.
In addition, at that same time, the second accuser admitted she was no longer certain Corey was the man who had supposedly raped her. (She had obviously been mistaken.)
As a result, all charges were dismissed that same day, and Corey went home a free man. We still keep in contact to this day, and I’m happy to report that he enjoys a good life with a good job.
Two Life Sentences for Gang Rape of Minor & Kidnapping – All Felonies Dismissed
People v. J.C. (Van Nuys courthouse – Sept. 2017):
My client, “Jesse”, was then a nineteen-year-old with no criminal record. One unfortunate weekend, he and half-a-dozen of his friends (four other young men and two 17-year-old minors) partied with a sixteen-year-old female, and all had intercourse and performed other sex acts with her. The female was an eager participant (as the undisputed evidence would show – see below); however, because of her age, she could not legally consent – even with the other two minors.
Anyways, when she returned home after that weekend, her mother and father were furious that she had ran away from home (as she had done on at least several other occasions). To deflect from her own participation in that weekend’s events, she falsely claimed that the seven males had kidnapped and gang-raped her.
The parents, of course, freaked out and called LAPD, who arrested all seven individuals. My client was therefore prosecuted for:
- “Gang Rape” (Forcible Rape in Concert) (California Penal Code section 264.1(a));
- Aggravated Kidnapping – Robbery, Rape, Other Sex Offenses (California Penal Code section 209(b));
- Oral Copulation by Force or Fear (California Penal Code section 287);
- Oral Copulation in Concert (California Penal Code section 287(d)); and
- Forcible Sexual Penetration with a Foreign Object (California Penal Code section 289).
If convicted of all charges, Jesse would have received as much as life in prison.
As always, my investigative team and I spent months intensively looking into the allegations. This included accessing the accuser’s private social media account, which confirmed that she was a wildly promiscuous girl who loved to drink and do drugs. However, under California law, such evidence is inadmissible to disprove sexual assault allegations (for good reason).
But after many months of concerted effort, I finally struck platinum: I obtained video footage of all the sexual activities that weekend, which absolutely proved that the accuser was not only a willing participant, but the instigator. Indeed, the video even captured her imploring the males to call other friends to come over and join the party.
In the end, I confronted the accuser on cross-examination at the preliminary hearing with the video, which, of course, disproved every single allegation she had made. By the time I was done destroying her on the stand, she refused to answer any more of my questions and never once looked at the video, which I played in court (in closed session, of course).
As a result, the prosecutor immediately dismissed all charges with prejudice against all seven defendants, including my client. However, because the tape did show my client having sex with the accuser, he plead out to a misdemeanor for Unlawful Consensual Sex with a Minor (California Penal Code section 261.5), but with no more jail time, informal/summary probation only, and no sex registration. Jesse, as well as his six friends, all went home by the next day.
Notably, Jesse – who had been in jail for more than six months while awaiting the prelim – had never been in trouble before (or since). And when he was suddenly released after what appeared to be a likely decades-long-at-least prison stretch, all of his associates in his suspected-sex-offender-wing at the Men’s Central Jail in DTLA began calling me, hoping to get the same “magic” for their own cases.
As a result, half-a-dozen of them hired me, and all of them were extremely happy that they did. Indeed, Jesse has continued referring other clients to me since then, including someone who I am currently defending against a major federal drug trafficking case in Las Vegas. Crazy.
My Client was Charged with Raping an Intoxicated Person and was Looking at 47 Yrs.
People v. R.T. (DTLA courthouse — June 2015):
My client “Richard” was charged with several felonies for Rape of an Intoxicated Person (Pen. Code § 261(a)(3)), in additional to several other consent-related sexual offenses. As a result, he faced almost fifty yrs. behind bars if convicted due to his previous criminal record, which mandated that his current alleged offenses be charged as Strikes (Pen. Code § 667(a)&(b)).
Unfortunately, however, Richard had been secretly tape-recorded having a conversation with the purported victim during which he said he was “sorry for what happened”. The detectives and prosecutor took that to be an admission of guilt, although Richard claimed the alleged rape was not what he had apologized for. He also claimed that heir intercourse had been consensual.
I pushed this case through trial, during which I put on several DNA experts who testified that there was insufficient DNA evidence to suggest intercourse had even occurred. I also effectively cross-examined the accuser to such a degree that half the jurors no longer believed her accusations.
As a result, the jury evenly deadlocked, including six voting not guilty. Before the scheduled retrial, however, the DA’s Office made my client an offer that was too good to pass up:
one misdemeanor count of Sexual Battery (Pen. Code § 243.4) with no jail time and informal probation.
My Client was Charged with a Dozen Counts of Lewd Acts w/ a Minor – 10+ Years Max
People v. J.G. (LAX Courthouse – Febr. 2018):
My client “Jackson” was charged with twelve felony counts of Lewd Acts with a Minor (Pen. Code § 288), which cumulatively carried as much as ten-plus years in a penitentiary, plus lifetime sex registration, if convicted, pursuant to California’s Sex Offender Registration law (California Penal Code section 290). He, too, had a useless attorney so he, too, spent more than twelve months in the Twin Towers downtown LA jail facility before he fired him and hired me.
As with all my clients, I fought tooth and nail all the way, always putting the Deputy DA prosecuting the case on the defensive, which often includes overwhelming the prosecutor with motions (though certainly never without merit or good cause).
In the end, I forced the prosecutor to give Jackson an impossibly good offer – a drastically reduced charge of Unlawful Consensual Sex with a Minor (Pen. Code § 261.5). He was released immediately with zero additional incarceration.
The Los Angeles Defense Attorney Law Firm (LADALF)
As of this writing, I have been practicing criminal attorney for 16 years and two months – a career I’ve dreamed about since I was a child. For that entire time, including my first four years when I worked as a Deputy P.D. for LA County, much of my caseload has been devoted to defending people (adults and minors) against consent-related sex offenses.
Aside from my extensive experience, deep knowledge of California sex-crimes law, and trial advocacy skills, I also believe that having a strong woman representing you in court absolutely helps your defense in the eyes of a jury.
For example, I am currently defending a successful businessman against several consent-related sexual offenses where he is facing not only more than a decade in prison, but deportation as well since he is a foreign national. For obvious reasons, I am not at liberty to divulge any other details about the case.