Netflix has fired actor Danny Masterson from the show “The Ranch” amid allegations by multiple women that he raped them years ago.
“As a result of ongoing discussions, Netflix and the producers have written Danny Masterson out of ‘The Ranch,'” the streaming service said in a statement Tuesday. “Yesterday was his last day on the show, and production will resume in early 2018 without him.”
Masterson will continue to appear in the already filmed fourth part of the comedy series, scheduled for release Dec. 15, and in some episodes to premiere next year.
The news comes as Masterson continues to face allegations from four women, stemming from the early 2000s. A lengthy Los Angeles Police Department investigation into their accusations appears to have stalled, according to HuffPost, and the authorities have not yet filed charges.
One woman said Masterson anally raped her, while another said he began raping her while she was passed out; when she awoke, she said, he choked her until she passed out again. The allegations were contained in police reports that were published in March by Tony Ortega, a former editor of The Village Voice.
In a statement, Masterson denied the accusations, which he described as “outrageous.”
“Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit,” he said. “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.”
At least three of the women claimed they were pressured to keep quiet by the Church of Scientology, to which they and Masterson belonged, according to Ortega, who wrote a book on Scientology.
The Church of Scientology “adamantly denied” that it had pressured victims. “What is being stated is utterly untrue,” it said in a statement. “This has nothing to do with religion. This story is being manipulated to push a bigoted agenda.”
“The Ranch” is a comedy about a failed professional athlete, played by Ashton Kutcher, who returns home to help his father and his brother, played by Masterson, on their family ranch.
In his statement, Masterson said he was “very disappointed” by Netflix’s decision. He thanked the cast, crew and fans of the show and said he wished it success.
Before the Tuesday announcement, a Netflix executive had reportedly unwittingly told one of Masterson’s alleged victims that the company did not believe the accusations.
The exchange occurred at a children’s soccer game Sunday when the victim approached the executive, Andy Yeatman, the director of global kids content for Netflix, HuffPost reported.
After Yeatman acknowledged to the woman that he worked at Netflix, she asked why the company had done nothing about Masterson, according to the report.
Yeatman reportedly said that the company generally takes such allegations seriously, but did not believe Masterson’s accusers.
“I’m one of them,” the woman, whom HuffPost did not name, told him.
Netflix said in a statement that Yeatman’s comments “were careless, uninformed and do not represent the views of the company.”
The news of Masterson’s firing comes one day after Netflix announced that the sixth and final season of “House of Cards” would star Robin Wright, who had shared the spotlight with Kevin Spacey until he was fired this fall following a slew of reports of sexual misconduct.