Actor Ashton Kutcher has stepped down as chairman of the board of an anti-child-trafficking group he co-foundedhe received a letter of support he wrote on behalf of his former “That ’70s Show” co-star Danny Masterson after Masterson’s for raping two women.
In a termination letter posted on the website of the group Thorn, Kutcher wrote that he “cannot allow my lapse in judgment to distract from our efforts and the children we serve.”
In June, Masterson, 43, was found guilty of raping two women at his Hollywood Hills home in the early 2000s.
Both Kutcher and his wife Mila Kunis, who also starred in the hit sitcom, were among dozens of colleagues, relatives and friends who wrote letters of support to a Los Angeles County judge ahead of Masterson’s sentencing last week, asking for leniency.
Despite the letters, Mastersonto 30 years to life in prison, the maximum allowed under the law.
INto LA County Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo, Kutcher called Masterson a “role model” and “an extraordinarily honest and intentional human being” who “sets an extraordinary standard around how you treat other people.”
Kutcher also wrote that he believes Masterson is not a continuing harm to society and that the accused actor is one of the few people he would trust to be alone with his children.
After significant backlash, Kutcher and Kunis posted a video on social media saying they had no intention of discounting the trauma and experiences of Masterson’s victims.
“The letters were not written to question the legality of the legal system or the validity of the jury’s decision,” Kunis said. “We support the victims.”
In his resignation letter Thursday, Kutcher wrote that he came to the decision to resign after he and Kunis “spent several days listening, personal reflection, learning and conversations with survivors and the staff and management of Thorn.”
He went on to offer a “heartfelt apology to all victims of sexual violence and to everyone at Thorn who I hurt by what I did.”
Kutcher, Kunis and Masterson co-starred on “That ’70s Show” from 1998 to 2006. Masterson later co-starred with Kutcher on the Netflix comedy series “The Ranch,” which ran for four seasons from 2016 to 2020. However, Masterson only appeared in the first three seasons and wasin December 2017 after the rape allegations surfaced.