Netflix sacks Masterson amid sex assault allegations

Actor Danny Masterson has been fired from the Netflix comedy The Ranch in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual assault.

The case is unusual in that it has taken Netflix nine months to respond to the accusations, which were made public in March.

"As a result of ongoing discussions Netflix and the producers have written Danny Masterson out of The Ranch," Netflix said in a statement. "Production will resume in early 2018 without him."

The decision means Masterston will appear in episodes which have already been filmed - the second half of the show's second season launches next week - but will likely not appear in the third or any subsequent seasons.

In March, four women alleged they were sexually assaulted by Masterson in the early 2000s; since that time the Los Angeles Police Department has been conducting an investigation.

Though the LAPD has not commented publicly on the case, it is believed that investigation is ongoing.

One of Masterson's accusers first made her claim in 2004 but at the time the Church of Scientology - of which Masterson is a member - submitted more than 50 statements from church members denying the woman's account of events.

That accusation, and at least three others, resurfaced in March when the LAPD began investigating the case, though the streaming platform Netflix, which employed Masterson, took no action at the time.

The case took an unusual turn this week, however, when one of Masterson's accusers approached a Netflix executive at a children's sporting event in Los Angeles and asked why, despite Netflix's quick action on Kevin Spacey, no action had been taken against Masterson.

The executive, Andy Yeatman, responded that Netflix took sexual misconduct allegations seriously but that "we don't believe them", referring to the four woman who have accused Masterson of rape.

To put Yeatman's remarks in context, he is Netflix's director of global kids content, and does not work in a role where the Masterston case would have any professional relevance.

Yeatman was also unaware, when he made the remarks, that the woman was one of Masterson's accusers.

That encounter, and Yeatman's remarks, were then made public in a report by the Huffington Post.

Spacey, who stars in another Netflix series, House of Cards, was accused by actor Anthony Rapp of making inappropriate sexual advances towards actor Rapp when he was 14 years old.

Within days Netflix suspended Spacey, and subsequently sacked him from the series; only this week a decision was made to return the series for a sixth and final season without Spacey.

The different handling of the two cases has been a source of criticism of Netflix for some time.

Masterson has vigorously denied the charges, today issuing a statement saying he was "disappointed" by the action taken by Netflix.

"From day one I have denied the outrageous allegations against me," Masterson said.

"Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one."

The 41-year-old actor also took aim at the "current climate", referring to the wave of sexual harassment accusations which have followed the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment case.

"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," Masterson said.

"I understand and look forward to clearing my name once and for all."

This story Netflix sacks Masterson amid sex assault allegations first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.