Actor Danny Masterson— best known for his role as Steven Hyde on That ’70s Show— has just been fired from Netflix’s The Ranch, marking this win as the latest in what has become a sort of Hollywood sexual assault reckoning.
The news comes on the tail of a disturbing story published by The Huffington Post on Monday in which a woman was told by a Netflix executive that Masterson hadn’t been fired from The Ranch because higher-ups at the company didn’t believe the four women who had accused the actor of rape last March. The woman then told the executive, director of global kids content Andy Yeatman, that she was one of those victims.
This all happened at a children’s soccer game. Yeatman allegedly approached the woman— ‘Victim B’ in the following HuffPo excerpt— later on that day to “clear the air.”
Victim B said Yeatman approached her at the game about an hour later, ostensibly to clear the air, and told her that he’d had no idea she was one of Masterson’s alleged victims. Victim B told HuffPost that she began to cry and told Yeatman, “I hope no one ever says that to your daughter.”
Yeatman then told her that he can’t decide whether Netflix takes action against Masterson.
Victim B told Yeatman that she and the other women accusing Masterson of rape were telling the truth and that “Netflix is going to regret this, this is a mistake, they’re going to see.”
Victim B said, and the witness confirmed, that Yeatman said, in what they described as a condescending tone, “we’ll see.”
A Netflix spokesman denied that Yeatman said “we’ll see.”
Initially, Netflix responded by saying the woman approached Yeatman as a stranger who “did not identify herself or explain her connection to Danny Masterson,” and that his “comments were careless, uninformed and do not represent the views of the company.”
The lack of action on the part of Netflix, especially in light of how quickly the company let go of actor Kevin Spacey after his assault allegations piled up, led to outrage on social media. An online petition gained over 39,000 signatures, its creators pointing out that Netflix had green lighted The Ranch even after they had been made aware of the allegations against Masterson.
Presumably, Netflix decided to cut their losses and amid the ensuing media shitstorm, fired Masterson. “As a result of ongoing discussions, Netflix and the producers have written Danny Masterson out of The Ranch,“ said a spokesperson for the streaming service. “Yesterday was his last day on the show, and production will resume in early 2018 without him.”
Masterson responded to the news in a statement provided to Huffington Post by his attorney: “I am obviously very disappointed in Netflix’s decision to write my character off of The Ranch. From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one.”
“In this country, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused. I understand and look forward to clearing my name once and for all.”
Meanwhile, sources in the police department and DA’s office described the evidence against Masterson as “compelling” and “overwhelming.” Perhaps most exciting of all is how big of a blow this situation is to the Church of Scientology, which puts considerable time and resources into silencing victims of abuse within their ranks. A blow this powerful against one of their more prominent figures may just signal the beginning of the end.