Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have stepped down from the board of the anti-child sexual abuse charity he founded amid fierce criticism of their defence of actor and convicted rapist Danny Masterson.
Kutcher sent a letter to the board of Thorn on Thursday (September 14) which was also shared to the charity’s website, confirming he was standing down with immediate effect.
Masterson was sentenced to 30 years in prison last week after being convicted on two counts of rape, which took place in 2001 and 2003. Kutcher and Kunis appeared alongside him in That ’70s Show in the late ’90s and early 2000s and came under fire for writing glowing character references for him during his trial in May.
Kutcher depicted Masterson as a man “with decency, equality, and generosity”, while Kunis praised him as as “an outstanding role model and friend” and “exceptional older brother figure”. Back in February, Kutcher said he “can’t know” Masterson’s innocence or guilt.
The pair subsequently apologised for their statements defending Masterson, and said his family had asked them to write character witness letters to the judge to “represent the person that we knew for 25 years.”
We are aware of the pain that has been caused by the character letters that we wrote on behalf of Danny Masterson,” Kutcher began in the video.
Kunis added: “We support victims. We have done this historically through our work and will continue to do so in the future. The letters were not written to question the legitimacy of the judicial system, or the validity of the jury’s ruling.”
“They were intended for the judge to read and not to undermine the testimony of the victims or re-traumatise them in any way,” Kutcher added. “We would never want to do that, and we’re sorry if that has taken place.”
To end the video, Kunis said: “Our heart goes out to every single person who’s ever been a victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse or rape.”
In his resignation letter, Kutcher apologised again and said he “cannot allow my error in judgment to distract from our efforts and the children we serve”.
“The mission must always be the priority and I want to offer my heartfelt apology to all victims of sexual violence and everyone at Thorn who I hurt by what I did,” he wrote.
“And to the broader advocacy community, I am deeply sorry. I remain proud of what we have accomplished in the past decade and will continue to support Thorn’s work. Thank you for your tireless advocacy and dedication to this cause.”
Thorn was founded by Kutcher and his then-wife Demi Moore in 2012 and has become a powerful voice in the campaign to end the sexual exploitation of children globally.
For help, advice or more information regarding sexual harassment, assault and rape in the UK, visit the Rape Crisis charity website. In the US, visit RAINN.