The actor, who stars alongside fellow That '70s Show alum Ashton Kutcher in the multi-camera comedy, has been under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department for nearly a year.
At least four women have come forward so far to allege that Masterson drugged and raped them in the early 2000s.
Three of the women were members of the Church of Scientology at the time they say they were attacked, reports the Huffington Post. Masterson and his wife Bijou Phillips remain prominent members of the Church.
According to Church doctrine, reporting another Scientologist to law enforcement is a serious offence which will lead to that person being shunned by the church and by any of their family or friends who are church members.
The Huffington Post reports that one of the alleged victims filed a police report against Masterson in 2004 in spite of the threat of excommunication. But the case stalled when “the Church of Scientology intervened and submitted more than 50 affidavits from Scientologists who denied the woman’s account.”
When the case first became public, Masterson issued a statement claiming that the “false allegations” were motivated by anti-Scientologist sentiment.
Netflix has known about the accusations for at least nine months, and has been criticised for their failure to take action sooner. The announcement that Netflix has decided to write Masterson off the show and that Monday was the actor’s last day on set came one day after executive Andy Yeatman reportedly told one of the alleged victims, “we don’t believe [the allegations].”
She had approached him to ask why Netflix wasn’t taking action against Masterson in light of the multiple accusations and the district attorney’s investigation. She did not initially identify herself or explain her connection to Danny Masterson, but after his comment told him, “I’m one of them”.
The perceived delay in a response from Netflix has been called disturbing and hypocritical. In October the company was quick to suspend and fire Kevin Spacey after BuzzFeed published an interview with Anthony Rapp in which he alleged the actor had made a sexual advance towards him when he was just 14.
Daily Beast reporter Amy Zimmerman stated in an opinion piece that “When public backlash demands a denunciation, Netflix will tweet definitively. But when it’s one reporter repeatedly pressing for comment on a number of sexual-assault allegations, they will issue a non-statement highlighting their own inaction.”