Finding themselves in hot water in the aftermath of Danny Masterson’s sentencing on charges of rape, his “That ’70s Show” costars and real-life couple Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have apologized for writing letters supporting Masterson’s character and requesting leniency from the judge.
In a video posted to Instagram on Saturday, Kutcher explained that the “character letters,” as he called them, were written at Masterson’s family’s request.
Kunis said, “The letters were not written to question the legitimacy of the judicial system or the validity of the jury’s ruling.”
“We support victims,” she added.
Danny Masterson was sentenced Thursday to the maximum 30-years-to-life in prison for raping two women in 2001 and 2003.
More than 50 people wrote letters in support of Masterson, including Debra Jo Rupp, who played Kitty on “That ’70s Show,” and Kurtwood Smith, who played Red.
In his letter, Kutcher wrote in part that “Danny has been nothing but a positive influence on me. He’s an extraordinarily honest and intentional human being.” Kunis described her former costar as an “amazing friend, confidant, and, above all, an outstanding older brother figure” who has “consistently displayed a profound sense of responsibility and care for those around him.”
Following the apologies, journalist Yashar Ali shared a text he received from one of the victims in the case.
“This video was incredibly insulting and hurtful,” wrote Jane Doe #1, also known as Jen B, in her message to Ali. “My hope is that they learn radical accountability and the importance of self-education to learn when to keep their privilege in check — especially Ashton, who claims to work with victims of sex crimes. And as to Mila, I can only think of ‘Times Up.'”
News that the pair sent in letters was not positively received by many. As one person tweeted, “Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis said, ‘yeah I totally get that Danny is a violent r*pist, but he showed up to work on time and he has a kid who ought to grow up with said violent r*pist around her.”
The letters appeared to do little to lessen Masterson’s sentencing.
The Los Angeles Police Department began investigating allegations of sexual assault against the actor in 2017. Three women — all of whom were once members of the Church of Scientology — filed the accusations against Masterson. They were joined by a fourth accuser and the group filed a lawsuit against both Masterson and the Church of Scientology in August 2019.
Masterson was formally charged with raping three women (and subsequently released on bail) in June 2020. A preliminary hearing began in January 2021. Each of Masterson’s victims took the stand to deliver emotional recountings of their experiences with the actor in May of the same year.
Following months of testimony that concluded in November 2022, Masterson was convicted on two counts of rape on May 31 of this year. Judge Charlaine Olmedo addressed the actor directly before delivering his sentencing and explained, “I know that you’re sitting here steadfast in your claims of innocence, and thus no doubt feeling victimized by a justice system that has failed you.”
Judge Olmedo continued, “But Mr. Masterson, you are not the victim here. Your actions 20 years ago took away another person’s voice, and choice. One way or another you will have to come to terms with your prior actions, and their consequences.”