Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis awkwardly apologize for supporting Danny Masterson
The video is a little hard to watch.
Actor Danny Masterson, 47, best known for playing Steven Hyde on “That ‘70s Show” from 1998 to 2006, was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for raping two women in the early 2000s. Throughout the trial, prosecutors argued that the Church of Scientology helped cover up the assaults—an allegation the organization denied.
The victim's dramatic, horrifying testimony revealed Masterson as a violent predator who pried women with substances before having sex with them against their will. One accuser admitted that she thought she was “going to die” while being raped by Masterson.
After Masterson was found guilty, the judge received over 50 letters asking for leniency in his sentence. Two letters came from Masterson’s “That ‘70s Show” costars, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, who are married.
In their letters, Kunis referred to his “exceptional character,” and Kutcher called him a “role model.”
Ashton Kutcher’s letter in support of Danny Masterson:— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) September 8, 2023
“While I’m aware that the judgement has been cast as guilty on two counts of rape by force and the victims have a great desire for justice, I hope that my testament to his character is taken into consideration in… pic.twitter.com/pfSvBRCJeY
“While I’m aware that the judgment has been cast as guilty on two counts of rape by force and the victims have a great desire for justice, I hope that my testament to his character is taken into consideration in sentencing,” Kutcher wrote. “I do not believe he is an ongoing harm to society and having his daughter raised without a present father would [be] a tertiary injustice in and of itself. Thank you for taking the time to read this.”
Kunis’ letter adds: “I wholeheartedly vouch for Danny Masterson’s exceptional character and the tremendous positive influence he has had on me and the people around him. His dedication to leading a drug-free life and the genuine care he extends to others make him an outstanding role model and friend.”
After Kutcher and Kunis’ letters went public, the couple released a video that apologized for potentially hurting Masterson’s victims. Many who watched the video thought it was cold, ingenuine and more likely to have been written by lawyers than by the couple.
Kutcher notes that the letter was “meant for a judge” and not for public consumption. One wonders if they would have written such glowing letters if they knew they would be released publicly.
“The letters were not written to question the legitimacy of the judicial system or the validity of the jury’s ruling,” Kunis says before Kutcher adds, “They were intended for the judge to read and not to undermine the testimony of the victims or re-traumatize them in any way. We would never want to do that. And we’re sorry if that has taken place.”
Finally, Kunis notes, “Our heart goes out to every single person who’s ever been a victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse, or rape.” It should be noted that for over a decade, Kutcher has worked to help end child sex trafficking, through a nonprofit he founded with his ex-wife, Demi Moore.
The video caused quite a stir on social media, with people critiquing them for looking like they were in a hostage video and questioning the lengths one should go to support a friend convicted of being a rapist.
I love how some of the arguments against the rightful pushback Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are getting are like “But what would you do if one of your friends was accused of being a rapist? Would you just UNFRIEND them?!”— Toni 🐀 (@ToniLouiseP) September 10, 2023
Yes, 100% yes. That’s an incredibly easy decision.
People should pay attention to the Ashton Kutcher/Mila Kunis thing, because this happens a lot: a woman says, “I’ve experienced this man’s terrible behaviour” and his friends, who’ve only ever seen his charming side, say, “oh, he’s lovely, he would never do that”— Dr Kat Day (she/her) 🏳🌈 🧪🐙 (@chronicleflask) September 9, 2023
All. The. Time.
Really baffled by the number of people saying Ashton Kutcher/Mila Kunis were ‘in a difficult position’ when asked to write these letters 😵💫 if literally any man I know was convicted of rape and I was asked to write a letter supporting sentencing leniency I would simply say no— K (@kirstieshearman) September 10, 2023
Amy Schumer pokes fun at Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis writing support letters for Danny Masterson. pic.twitter.com/KANoL690BQ— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) September 11, 2023
I read the letters from Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Debra Jo Rupp, Giovanni Ribisi, and Billy Baldwin, and the take away is this:— Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (@IBJIYONGI) September 8, 2023
A man can be an extraordinary father, friend, and colleague and still be a rapist. And a rapist often hides that side of himself from others.
What really gets me about the Ashton Kutcher/Mila Kunis thing is that it’s how so many people respond in the face of abusers—assume that people who do heinous things aren’t also capable of having good friendships, loving families, or putting on a charitable face for outsiders.— tay mabelitini ✨ (@taymabelitini) September 9, 2023
Topher Grace did not write any letters for Danny Masterson. His wife, Ashley Hinshaw offered support to the victims on her Instagram pic.twitter.com/ZURb9lFyuK— DrDinD🟧🇺🇲🇺🇦 He/Him (@DrDinD) September 10, 2023
One of the most critical takeaways from the public reaction to the story is how people who appear to be affable pillars of the community can have secret lives as abusers. The dual nature of these people’s personalities can make it incredibly difficult for some people to accept their insidious nature. But that mask that the abuser wears also makes it easier for them to continue to hurt others.
Masterson’s crimes are despicable and have ruined numerous lives. But if any good is to come of this, it's for the public to better understand how abusers can hide in plain sight. Just because someone has been a good friend or hasn’t shown any signs of being abusive doesn’t mean they can’t also harbor a terrible secret.