Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have apologised for statements in which they defended convicted rapist Danny Masterson.
The actor, who is best known for starring in US sitcom That ‘70s Show and Netflix series The Ranch, was convicted on two of three rape charges at a re-trial in May after the first jury was unable to reach a verdict in 2022. This week, he was then sentenced to 30 years to life in prison.
Back in February, Kutcher said he “can’t know” Masterson’s innocence or guilt, and then he and Kunis sent letters to the judge of the trial, calling Masterson a “role model”.
In a new video posted to Instagram, the pair revealed how Masterson’s family 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.”
Masterson was accused of raping three women at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003, during the time when That ‘70s Show was on air. At the re-trial, the jury found him guilty of raping two women in 2003, but charges brought forward by the third accuser from November 2001 were declared a mistrial. The actor pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Speaking at the sentencing in Los Angeles on Thursday (September 7), Judge Charlaine Olmedo (via Variety) said: “Mr. Masterson, you are not a victim here. Your actions 20 years ago took away another person’s voice and choice. Your actions 20 years ago were criminal, and that is why you are here.”
The judge sentenced Masterson for 15 years to life on each of the two charges, with the actor ordered to serve both terms consecutively.
During the trial, prosecutors argued Masterson had used his “untouchable” position in the Church of Scientology to avoid accountability for raping women. All three accusers were Scientologists at the time of their assaults, but have since left the church.
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.