Last Friday, a Los Angeles judge sentenced disgraced actor Danny Masterson to 30 years to life in prison for drugging and raping two women in the early aughts. The sentencing concluded a painful and protracted legal battle for Masterson’s accusers, who alleged that the Church of Scientology, of which Masterson is a lifelong member, prevented them from seeking justice in the years since their assaults. “The ugly truth is I didn’t want to live,” one of Masterson’s accusers shared in an impact statement at the actor’s sentencing hearing. “I remember crying myself to sleep and wishing I would not wake up.”
While Masterson’s victims delivered wrenching statements, more than 50 people — including his former That ‘70s Show co-stars and friends Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis — apparently wrote letters to the judge supporting the actor and lobbying for a lighter sentence. Kunis’s and Kutcher’s letters went public last week, and, well, it’s not hard to see why they’ve inspired viral backlash: Kutcher called the convicted rapist a “role model” and a “positive influence” who he believes does not pose “an ongoing harm to society,” while Kunis extolled his “exceptional character” and called him an “outstanding older brother figure.”
Following an intense wave of criticism, the couple took to Instagram on Sunday to say sorry, or at least attempt to backtrack. “We are aware of the pain that has been caused by the character letters that we wrote on behalf of Danny Masterson,” Kutcher said in a comments-off video in which he and Kunis sit side by side and trade off delivering lines of an apology. Kunis maintained she and Kutcher “support victims” and have done so “historically through our work” — a likely reference to Thorn, the anti-sex-trafficking organization Kutcher co-founded with his ex Demi Moore — and will “continue to do so in the future.” Kutcher further explained that Masterson’s family asked them to write character letters for the judge to “take into full consideration relative to the sentencing” and not, as Kunis relayed, to “question the legitimacy” of the proceedings or the jury’s guilty convictions. Kutcher added that the letters weren’t intended to “undermine the testimony of the victims” or retraumatize them.
“We would never want to do that,” Kutcher told his followers. “And we’re sorry if that has taken place.” Kunis concluded, “Our heart goes out to every single person who’s ever been a victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse, or rape.”
At least one of Masterson’s victims, identified as Jane Doe No. 1, found the Kutcher-Kunis apology offensive. She called it “incredibly insulting and hurtful” in a text journalist Yashar Ali shared on X. “My hope is that they learn radical accountability and the importance of self-education to learn when to keep their privilege in check — especially Ashton, who claims to work with victims of sex crimes,” she wrote. “And as to Mila, I can only think of ‘Times Up.’” To put an even finer point on it, I’d humbly direct Kutcher and Kunis to the Instagram story Yellowjackets queen Christina Ricci put out after their character letters went viral: “People we know as ‘awesome guys’ can be predators and abusers,” wrote Ricci, who did not name names. “If we say we support victims — women, children, men, boys — then we must be able to take this stance.”