Danny Masterson made his first appearance in an L.A. courtroom Friday, to face charges that he raped three women in the early 2000s. The 44-year-old denies the charges, and is arguing that he is being persecuted for his devotion to the Church of Scientology.

Masterson, who is free on $3.3 million bail since being arrested in June, did not enter a plea. His lawyer, Tom Masereau, accused L.A. County D.A. Jackie Lacey of filing the charges for political gain ahead of the November election. 

Mesereau, who defended Michael Jackson in his high-profile sexual misconduct case, said: "There have been repeated attempts to politicize this case. He is absolutely not guilty and we're going to prove it."

Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller dismissed Mesereau’s allegations as "false" and "pure speculation, with no basis in fact".

Actress Leah Remini, a vocal critic of Scientology, was in attendance at the trial. Masterson’s next court appearance is October 19th. If convicted, he faces 45 years in prison.