Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher on Saturday spoke about letters they had written seeking leniency in the prison sentence of Danny Masterson, the actor best known for his role in the sitcom “That ’70s Show” who was found guilty of raping two women more than 20 years ago.
Masterson was sentenced to the maximum, 30 years to life, on Thursday.
The letters to the judge in the case, Charlaine F. Olmedo of Los Angeles Superior Court, which were published on Friday on Substacks of journalists who had covered the trial, described the couple’s friendship with Masterson.
“I do not believe he is an ongoing harm to society,” Kutcher, who is married to Kunis, wrote of Masterson in a letter dated July 27, adding that “having his daughter raised without a present father” would be “a tertiary injustice in and of itself.”
In her letter, Kunis vouched for Masterson’s “exceptional character and the tremendous positive influence he has had on me and the people around him.”
Masterson, 47, co-starred on “That ’70s Show” with Kutcher and Kunis from 1998 to 2006. Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith, two other co-stars from the show, also wrote letters to the judge in support of Masterson, praising their interactions with him while working together.
Kunis and Kutcher defended their letters in support of Masterson in a recorded statement posted to Instagram on Saturday, saying they “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,” Kutcher said. “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.”
The letters from Kutcher and Kunis sought to portray Masterson as someone who was critical of drug use. Kutcher said he attributed “not falling into the typical Hollywood life of drugs directly to Danny.” Kunis said that “Danny played a pivotal role in guiding me away from such destructive paths.”
Those statements appeared to be responding to specific allegations in the case.
Prosecutors had accused Masterson of drugging and then raping three women at his home in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles between 2001 and 2003. (The jury deadlocked on the charge that Masterson had raped a third woman.)
In the video statement, Kutcher said that he and Kunis were “aware of the pain that has been caused” by the letters. Kunis added, “Our heart goes out to every single person who’s ever been a victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse or rape.”
The couple said in the video on Instagram that Masterson’s family had asked them to write the letters “to represent the person that we knew for 25 years, so that the judge could take that into full consideration relative to the sentencing.”
Tony Ortega, one of the journalists who published the letters on his Substack, “The Underground Bunker,” wrote that “these letter writers were probably aware that Judge Olmedo could really only choose between 15 to life and 30 to life.”
“They knew they were not trying to convince her to let Danny walk out of prison,” he added. Another Substack, “Legal Affairs and Trials with Meghann Cuniff,” also published the letters.
The case against Masterson drew widespread attention, in part because of accusations that the Church of Scientology, to which Masterson belonged, had pressured his accusers to keep quiet. The church denied that it pressured the victims.
Kutcher and Kunis in their letters described deep connections to Masterson, with Kutcher saying that Masterson had been his friend and role model for 25 years.
“We’ve traveled around the world together, raised our daughters together and shared countless family moments,” Kutcher said, adding “he is among few people that I would trust to be alone with my son and daughter.”
Kunis added that Masterson’s “unwavering commitment to being an exceptional older brother figure to me has had a transformative impact on my life.”
Masterson will be eligible for parole in 20 years, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.