In a recorded phone call obtained by HuffPost, Jenni Weinman, the longtime publicist of actor Danny Masterson, suggested to one of the four women accusing Masterson of rape that a woman who is in a relationship with a man can’t claim that man raped her. In that conversation, Weinman remained unfazed when presented with accusations that her client had raped women while they were unconscious.
Two of the women accusing Masterson of rape have told HuffPost that Weinman played an integral part in covering up Masterson’s alleged crimes. They say Weinman worked to cover up the allegations by threatening, cajoling and lying to victims in an effort to silence them.
The Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office have been investigating Masterson for nearly a year for allegedly raping four women. The women, two of whom were in romantic relationships with Masterson at the time of the alleged incidents, say that Masterson violently raped them after spiking their drinks, causing them to slip in and out of consciousness. (Masterson’s attorney disputes this, saying that as a Scientologist, his client has a strict anti-drug policy.)
The investigation, which is being led by one of the top prosecutors in the district attorney’s office, is significant in scope, but does not appear to have had any effect on Masterson’s career. Masterson is currently starring in a Netflix show, “The Ranch,” with his former “That ’70s Show” co-star Ashton Kutcher. Netflix has told HuffPost it is aware of the accusations but isn’t seeking to suspend Masterson pending results of the investigation.
Masterson has denied all allegations of rape and said that the encounters in question were consensual.
In a statement, Weinman told HuffPost: “I respect the law. I would never cover up wrongdoing or threaten people based on the scope of my work. As a publicist it’s my job to gather information and make informed decisions about media matters. As an outsider looking in I never saw anything but a consensual relationship between Danny and Chrissie, with whom I maintained a cordial relationship after they broke up. That said, her claims coming after almost 16 years were surprising and shocking to say the least. My conversation with any alleged victim came from a place of sincerity, and curiosity as to why they would wait and why now, it just seemed so illogical.”
Weinman has been Masterson’s publicist for almost 20 years. She also represents musician Travis Barker, actor Eric Balfour and Masterson’s brother and fellow actor Christopher Masterson, as well as the anti-vaccination film “Trace Amounts,” which promotes the debunked conspiracy theory that a link exists between vaccinations and autism.
Weinman was also listed on one of the victim’s police reports as a witness. HuffPost has conducted a weeks-long investigation into the accusations of rape against Masterson, and obtained the audio from a source as part of the investigation.
The phone call took place in October 2016, after one of the alleged victims, Chrissie Bixler, posted a tweet that read, “Because your boyfriend tells you it’s not rape if you’re in a relationship and then his church covers it up. #WhyWomenDontReport.” That hashtag had recently gone viral after accusations of sexual misconduct were levied against then-presidential nominee Donald Trump, and women were sharing stories of why they hadn’t reported their own allegations to law enforcement.
Bixler dated Masterson for six years and says that he raped her at least twice when she was unconscious. One morning in 2001, she says, she woke up in pain with her anus bleeding. When she asked Masterson what had happened the night before, she says, he told her “We had anal sex.” According to Bixler, when she confronted Masterson about his callousness and said she hadn’t been able to consent, he replied, “Stop it, you’re making me feel bad.”
Bixler was a Scientologist at the time ― as Masterson was and still is ― so she filed what’s known as a knowledge report to the Church ethics office. One of the key policies of the Church of Scientology is that a Scientologist must never report another Scientologist to law enforcement. (They’re also not allowed to sue fellow Scientologists.) Filing a police report would have led the Church to declare Bixler a suppressive person ― a harsher form of excommunication that would have required any Scientologist to immediately “disconnect” from her.
Bixler filed the knowledge report with the Church, but was told by Church officials that what happened to her couldn’t be considered rape because she was in a relationship with Masterson. She says the Church repeatedly threatened her to stay silent, and that in 2002 it coerced her, under the threat of being declared a suppressive person, to sign an agreement releasing Masterson from any claims, including palimony.
Bixler told HuffPost it wasn’t until 2016, when she called the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, that she was told what Masterson allegedly did to her was rape. Around that time, she also undertook an official separation from the Church of Scientology when she realized that years of brainwashing had led her to believe a person couldn’t be raped by someone they were in a relationship with.
After Bixler posted her tweet with the hashtag #WhyWomenDontReport, she sent another tweet that included a definition of rape from an online dictionary. She tagged Masterson in this tweet. That led Marty Singer, Masterson’s powerful attorney, to send a threatening cease-and-desist letter to Bixler’s husband, the musician Cedric Bixler-Zavala, who had retweeted Bixler’s post. Bixler and her husband subsequently deleted their tweets. Details of Singer’s letter were first reported by the journalist Tony Ortega.
After the now-deleted tweets, Bixler heard from another alleged victim of Masterson’s whom HuffPost is calling Victim B. With the knowledge of the Los Angeles Police Department, Victim B called Weinman, Masterson’s publicist, to discuss both Bixler’s alleged rape and her own.
In the audio of that call, Weinman remains unfazed as Victim B alleges that Masterson rapes women when they are unconscious. Weinman also pushes back against Victim B by saying that Masterson couldn’t have raped Bixler because they were in a relationship and that they “fucked for a year after they broke up.”
In a phone interview, Bixler said she slept with Masterson three times after they broke up, and the idea that she was sleeping with him for a year is “categorically false.” Bixler says Weinman told her last year that she couldn’t consider what allegedly happened to her to be rape, because she was in a relationship with Masterson at the time. When HuffPost shared a transcript of Weinman’s remarks, Bixler said: “Hearing that validates what I’ve always said, that the Church and Danny were dead-set on convincing me that I couldn’t have been raped because I was in a relationship with him.”
In her police report, which was filed in 2004 and led her to being shunned by the Church of Scientology, Victim B alleges that she repeatedly blacked out one evening while she was at a party at Masterson’s home, and that she awoke to him raping her. She also alleges that Masterson choked her until she passed out during the rape.
In the audio obtained by HuffPost, Weinman mentions that Victim B was conscious when Weinman dropped her off at Masterson’s home the evening in question. Victim B responds that she was indeed conscious. (In her police report, she says Masterson gave her a drink shortly after she arrived that she believes was spiked.)
Weinman goes on to say, “So I’m trying to figure out what happened, because I don’t imagine you would just go into someone’s house and then get raped.”
A common myth of sexual assault and rape is that women are raped in back alleys or dangerous places by men unknown to them. In reality, according to the Justice Department, 79 percent of victims are raped by acquaintances, close friends or someone they work with.
An attorney for Masterson denied that he has ever placed any drugs in someone else’s drink, and said that as a Scientologist, Masterson has a strict anti-drug policy for himself and for guests in his home.
Below is a partial transcript of the phone conversation between Weinman and Victim B.
Victim B: “I know Chrissie [Bixler] and I am certain she would talk.”
Weinman: “Well, Chrissie was Danny’s girlfriend at the time, so there’s really nothing, there’s no story there.”
Victim B: “He raped her.”
Weinman: “They were boyfriend and girlfriend and they dated, and then they fucked for a year after they broke up, so I don’t think that...”
Victim B: “He raped her when she was unconscious. That’s what he does, he rapes women when they’re unconscious. He has a sick...”
Weinman: “You were not unconscious when I dropped you off.”
Victim B: “Very true, that is true, we agree on something. Very true.”
Weinman: “So I’m trying to figure out what happened, because I don’t imagine you would just go into someone’s house and then get raped.”
Victim B: “You want me to tell you about the worst thing that ever happened in my life? Because I know you don’t care about me.”
Weinman: “It’s not that I don’t care. That’s kind of rude. Like, I have kids, and I’m a mother, and I’m a woman ― of course I’m curious, which is why I called you. If I didn’t give a shit, I would have been like, whatever, have the legal people call you. You don’t know me, so that’s not anything about me.”
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Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.