Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis Apologize for Letters Supporting Masterson

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Married actors Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis apologized Saturday for writing letters to the judge in Danny Masterson's rape trial, in which they called their co-star on "That '70s Show" -- who was convicted of raping two women at his Hollywood Hills home about two decades ago -- a "role model."

Masterson was sentenced to 30 years to life in state prison on Thursday. Kutcher and Kunis wrote to the judge to argue for leniency in his sentence, praising the 47-year-old actor for being a good father, friend and co- worker and crediting him for his commitment to his wife and daughter and for discouraging the use of drugs.

But public outcry after the letters were made public prompted the couple to issue a mea culpa on Instagram.

"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 video posted on the social media site.

"We support victims," Kunis added. "We have done this historically through our work and will continue to do so in the future."

Kutcher said members of Masterson's family reached out to him and Kunis to write about "the person that we knew for 25 years."

"The letters were not written to question the legitimacy of the judicial system, or the validity of the jury's ruling," Kunis added.

Kutcher said the letters "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."

Kutcher and Kunis were among dozens of people who wrote to Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo in support of Masterson, including fellow  "That '70s Show" co-stars Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith, actor Giovanni Ribisi and Masterson's brother-in-law, actor Billy Baldwin.

Kutcher wrote that he was 20 when he met Masterson in 1998 and "he instantly became a friend, dedicated co-worker, and role model to me. And has remained as such for 25 years."

Kutcher said Masterson is "an extraordinarily honest and intentional human being," that the two spent hundreds of hours working together and "set an extraordinary standard around how you treat other people."

He wrote that he and Masterson -- the father of a 9-year-old daughter with actress-wife Bijou Phillips Masterson -- "have spent countless hours together with our kids and he is among few people that I would trust to be alone with my son and daughter."

"While I'm aware that the judgement (sic) has been cast as guilty on two counts of rape by force and fear and the victims have a great desire for justice. I hope that my testament to his character is taken into consideration in sentencing. 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."

In her letter to the judge, Kunis wrote that she "could sense his innate goodness and genuine nature" from the very beginning after meeting Masterson and that he has "proven to be an amazing friend, confidant, and, above all, an outstanding older brother figure to me."

"... His genuine concern for those around him and his commitment to leading by example make him an outstanding role model and friend," Kunis wrote in her letter. "... 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."

Masterson's defense team had asked in a sentencing memorandum for the 15-year-to-life terms on each of the charges to be served at the same time, noting that he still wouldn't be eligible for parole until he is 62 and his daughter is in her mid-20s. They noted that the counts on which he was convicted occurred within six to eight months of each other when Masterson was in mid-20s.

Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller countered that a 15-year-to- life sentence was "not fair and just." He said a 30-year-to-life sentence would be the "fair and just" sentence, saying that "this defendant needs to be held accountable."

Masterson was convicted May 31 of two counts of rape by force or fear. He was taken into custody after the verdict was read and has remained behind bars since then.

The jury deadlocked on another rape charge involving a third alleged victim, who was a former longtime girlfriend of Masterson. Prosecutors announced in July that they would not retry the actor on that charge, and it was dismissed July 11.

The jury was the second to hear the case against Masterson, who was charged in 2020 with three counts of rape by force or fear involving the three women on separate occasions.

During the first trial last year, jurors leaned in favor of acquittal on all three counts -- voting 10-2 on one count, 8-4 on another and 7-5 on the third -- but they were unable to reach a unanimous decision, leading to a mistrial being declared last November.

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