This story contains discussion of sexual abuse and sexual assault.
Earlier this month, Danny Masterson was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison after being found guilty of raping two women in the 2000s.
Shortly after the sentencing, it was revealed that Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis wrote separate letters of support for leniency ahead of Danny's sentencing.
In his letter, Ashton referred to Danny as a "role model" and said he did "not believe [Danny] is an ongoing harm to society," ultimately asking that Danny receive a lesser sentence because "having his daughter raised without a present father would [be] a tertiary injustice in and of itself."
The backlash was swift. Ashley Grace, the wife of Ashton's That '70s Show costar Topher Grace, shared a statement on her IG Story about "witnessing society debate and focus their attention what is going to happen to the RAPIST."
In a subsequent apology video with Mila, Ashton explained that the letters were requested by Danny's family to "represent the person that we knew for 25 years" and "were intended for the judge to read and not to undermine the testimony of the victims or retraumatize them in any way."
Their apology did little to quell the persistent backlash — and, as a result, Time reports that Ashton has stepped down as chairman of the board of Thorn, the anti-child sex abuse organization he founded with ex-wife Demi Moore back in 2009.
"Victims of sexual abuse have been historically silenced and the character statement I submitted is yet another painful instance of questioning victims who are brave enough to share their experiences," he wrote in a statement.
"After my wife and I spent several days of listening, personal reflection, learning, and conversations with survivors and the employees and leadership at Thorn, I have determined the responsible thing for me to do is resign as Chairman of the Board, effectively immediately…I 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," Kutcher also 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."
Social media had plenty to say about Ashton's decision:
if my choices in my personal life forced me to step down from my role in an anti-sex abuse org i would probably reconsider some of my choices. rip to ashton kutcher but i'm different
— zoë ✨🌙 (@zoenone0none) September 15, 2023
@zoenone0none / Via Twitter: @zoenone0none
Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis step down from organisation board over Danny Masterson backlash == you were both on such and important board and you blewit -- Why ? ? ? doesnt make sense that you give someone like that a character reference
— DBLE david (@DavidDble) September 16, 2023
@DavidDble / Via Twitter: @DavidDble
Translation: Board said step down or you’re out. Apologies all around except to the survivors. Whadda guy… News: Ashton Kutcher Resigns As Board Chair of Anti-Child Sexual Abuse Organization He Co-Founded, by @yashar https://t.co/tANw120ymo
— Nancy Iannuzzi🟦 (@Foradancer) September 15, 2023
@Foradancer / Via Twitter: @Foradancer
Ashton Kutcher headed one of the largest and most successful Anti-Child trafficking organizations ever and now faces backlash that has caused him to "resign" (or be removed) from the organization. It smells like a plot to traffic more children
— Kenny Gasoline (@ofclkennygas) September 16, 2023
@ofclkennygas / Via Twitter: @ofclkennygas
i have so many opinions on this but what it boils down to is i hate Ashton kutcher https://t.co/or2Fy2LM4B
— MCKENNA (@TWERKENNA) September 16, 2023
@TWERKENNA / Via Twitter: @TWERKENNA
No one needs to feel bad for Ashton Kutcher, or Mila Kunis.. he capitalized on his looks and modest acting ability to harness a $200 million fortune. Mila Kunis is worth $75 million by herself. If they never work again, they are set for multiple lifetimes.
— miranda mckingsby (@laffmytitsoff) September 16, 2023
@laffmytitsoff / Via Twitter: @laffmytitsoff
Since Ashton Kutcher & Mila Kunis consider Mr. Masterson a "role model" I hope authorities are taking a good, long look at the lives the couple lead. Such a troubling and creepy description of a convicted rapist.
— Dee Phoenix (@DawnWat06000632) September 16, 2023
@DawnWat06000632 / Via Twitter: @DawnWat06000632
I hate Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis fr they are so gross https://t.co/NBSOjOTSyH
— coochie monster (@marijuanis47) September 16, 2023
@marijuanis47 / Via Twitter: @marijuanis47
Ngl Ashton kutcher weird as fuck for that, he acted like he’s such a good guy and an ally against SA but then he wants to defend his homie for that shit…fuck him and his wife
— 𝖎𝖘𝖆𝖆𝖈 (@BigBungalows) September 16, 2023
@BigBungalows / Via Twitter: @BigBungalows