Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis apologize over letters of support for Danny Masterson

The three actors starred on "That '70s Show" together.

September 9, 2023, 7:20 PM

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis issued an apology on Saturday in response to criticism over their character letters in support of convicted rapist Danny Masterson, whom they both starred with on "That '70s Show."

Masterson, 47, was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison on Thursday after he was found guilty of two counts of forcible rape in a retrial.

During the sentencing hearing, the three Jane Does in the case provided emotional victim impact statements -- the two he was convicted of raping, as well as a third whose count was declared a mistrial -- before the judge ruled that Masterson will serve two 15-year sentences consecutively. He must also register as a sex offender.

Masterson's defense attorney had argued for him to serve the two counts concurrently, saying that 15 years would be fair. The defense team's sentencing memo, obtained following the sentencing, showed that husband-and-wife Kutcher and Kunis were among those who provided character letters in support of Masterson, asking the judge for leniency, with both calling him a "role model."

The revelation was met with widespread online backlash, including criticism by two of the Jane Does in the case. Jane Doe No. 2 said on social media on Friday that the two actors submitted the letters "after they read all of the gruesome sworn-under-oath testimony" of the women.

PHOTO: In this April 15, 2023, file photo, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher arrive at tan event in Los Angeles.
In this April 15, 2023, file photo, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher arrive at an event in Los Angeles.
Anna Webber/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize, FILE

Jane Doe 3, whose count was ultimately dismissed, also blasted the stars on social media on Friday for their show of support, claiming Kutcher is "just as sick" as his "role model" and that she feels "very sad" for Kunis.

Kutcher and Kunis addressed the criticism in a brief video message posted on Instagram on Saturday.

"We are aware of the pain that has been caused by the character letters that we wrote on behalf of Danny Masterson," Kutcher began.

Kunis said they have "historically" supported victims and "will continue to do so in the future."

Kutcher explained that Masterson's family reached out to them a few months ago and asked them to write character letters "to represent the person that we knew for 25 years, so that the judge could take that into full consideration relative to the sentencing."

"The letters were not written to question the legitimacy of the judicial system, or the validity of the jury's ruling," Kunis said.

Kutcher added that the letters were not intended to undermine the testimony of the victims.

"We would never want to do that. And we're sorry that that has taken place," he said.

In his letter, Kutcher wrote that Masterson is "kind, courteous, and hard working."

"As a role model, Danny has consistently been an excellent one," Kutcher wrote, later writing, "He has always treated people with decency, equality, and generosity."

In her letter, Kunis wrote that Masterson has an "innate goodness" and over the years has "proven to be an amazing friend, confidant, and, above all, an outstanding older brother figure to me."

"His genuine concern for those around him and his commitment to leading by example make him an outstanding role model and friend," she wrote.

Others who submitted character letters on behalf of Masterson included his wife, Bijou Phillips; his mother, Carol Masterson; actor Billy Baldwin; and two other stars of "That '70s Show": Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith.

PHOTO: Danny Masterson appears at the CMT Music Awards in Nashville, Tenn., June 7, 2017.
Danny Masterson appears at the CMT Music Awards in Nashville, Tenn., June 7, 2017.
Wade Payne/Invision via AP, FILE

Masterson's attorney continued to maintain his innocence following the sentencing.

"The errors which occurred in this case are substantial and unfortunately, led to verdicts which are not supported by the evidence," his attorney, Shawn Holley, said in a statement on Thursday. "And though we have great respect for the jury in this case and for our system of justice overall, sometimes they get it wrong. And that's what happened here."

A Los Angeles jury found Masterson guilty of two counts of forcible rape in May, after the first trial ended in a mistrial in November 2022.

The third count against Jane Doe No. 3 was declared a mistrial and has since been dismissed after prosecutors said they would not retry Masterson on the rape charge.

Masterson pleaded not guilty to three counts of felony rape following accusations by the three women, including a former girlfriend. The alleged attacks took place between 2001 and 2003. "That '70s Show" was still on the air at the time.

Masterson, who was arrested in 2020, said each of the encounters was consensual.

The three women were members of the Church of Scientology, as is Masterson. All three women said they were initially hesitant to speak to law enforcement because they said church teachings discouraged reporting to police. The women eventually left the church.

The Church of Scientology said in a statement in May following the verdict that it "has no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of anyone -- Scientologists or not -- to law enforcement."

"Church policy explicitly demands Scientologists abide by all laws of the land," the statement continued. "All allegations to the contrary are totally false."