Ashton Kutcher Quits Thorn After Supporting Convicted Rapist Danny Masterson

Ashton Kutcher, the actor and tech investor, has resigned from his role as board chair of Thorn, the anti-child sex abuse organization he co-founded with his ex-wife Demi Moore in 2009. The decision came after he and his current wife, Mila Kunis, faced backlash for writing letters to a judge asking for leniency in the sentencing of their friend and former co-star Danny Masterson, who was convicted of raping two women in the early 2000s.

Kutcher and Kunis, who both starred with Masterson in the sitcom “That ’70s Show”, wrote glowing character references for Masterson, describing him as a “role model”, an “exceptional older brother figure” and a “man who treated people with decency, equality, and generosity”. They also expressed doubt about the credibility of the victims, who were all members of the Church of Scientology along with Masterson.

Ashton Kutcher Quits Thorn After Supporting Convicted Rapist Danny Masterson
Ashton Kutcher Quits Thorn After Supporting Convicted Rapist Danny Masterson

Their letters were revealed by The Hollywood Reporter after Masterson was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison on Sept. 8. The letters sparked outrage among Masterson’s accusers, other survivors of sexual assault, and advocates for victims’ rights. They accused Kutcher and Kunis of being insensitive, hypocritical, and complicit in silencing and shaming the victims.

Kutcher apologizes and steps down from Thorn

In a statement released on Friday, Thorn announced that Kutcher had resigned from his position as board chair, effective immediately. The statement also included Kutcher’s resignation letter, dated Thursday, in which he admitted his “error in judgment” and apologized to “all victims of sexual violence” and everyone at Thorn.

“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,” Kutcher wrote. “I cannot allow my error in judgment to distract from our efforts and the children we serve.”

Kutcher also acknowledged that his letter for Masterson was “another painful instance of questioning victims who are brave enough to share their experiences”. He said he was proud of what Thorn had accomplished in the past decade and would continue to support its work.

Thorn is a nonprofit organization that develops technology to prevent, identify, and rescue children from sexual abuse and exploitation. According to its website, it has helped identify more than 17,000 child sex trafficking victims and assisted law enforcement in arresting more than 12,000 predators.

Kunis also leaves Thorn board

According to Time, which first reported the news of Kutcher’s resignation, Kunis also stepped down from her role as an observer on Thorn’s board. Kunis had joined the board in 2018 as a non-voting member who could offer advice and feedback to the organization.

Kunis did not issue a public statement or apology for her letter for Masterson. However, she reportedly participated in the same listening sessions and conversations with survivors and Thorn staff as Kutcher.

Neither Kutcher nor Kunis have commented on their departure from Thorn on their social media accounts. They have also not addressed the criticism they received from Masterson’s accusers and others.

Masterson maintains his innocence

Masterson, who played Steven Hyde on “That ’70s Show” from 1998 to 2006, was arrested in June 2020 and charged with three counts of rape by force or fear. He pleaded not guilty and was released on bail.

In June 2021, he was found guilty of raping two women at his Hollywood Hills home in 2001 and 2003. A third charge was dismissed due to insufficient evidence. He faced a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in prison.

During his trial, Masterson’s defense team tried to discredit the victims by questioning their motives, memories, and mental health. They also suggested that they were influenced by Scientology’s anti-Masterson campaign.

Masterson’s lawyer Thomas Mesereau said he would appeal the verdict and called it a “miscarriage of justice”. He said Masterson was innocent and had been “railroaded” by a politicized prosecution.

Masterson has also received support from some of his other former co-stars, such as Laura Prepon, Wilmer Valderrama, and Topher Grace. They also wrote letters to the judge praising Masterson’s character and asking for mercy.

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