In May 2023, a jury found actor Danny Masterson guilty on two counts of rape for assaults that took place in the early aughts. And on Sept. 7, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge sentenced him to the maximum punishment of 30 years in prison – 15 years for each crime.
Between the guilty verdict and the sentencing, several of Danny's famous friends, co-stars and family members wrote letters to the judge about his character, and in the days after Danny was ordered to prison, those letters were made public.
But their sentiments sparked backlash and claims that they're supporting a rapist and retraumatizing his victims.
On Sept. 9, Ashton and Mila took to social media to respond to those claims and explain why they wrote letters on Danny's behalf.
Keep reading for all they had to say, who else wrote letters and more…
What Ashton wrote in his letter
After Danny Masterson was found guilty of rape but before he was sentenced, four of his "That '70s Show" co-stars — Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp — wrote letters of support to the judge, People magazine and other outlets confirmed.
In Ashton's letter, he said of his friend, "As a role model, Danny has consistently been an excellent one. … I attribute not falling into the typical Hollywood life of drugs directly to Danny."
Ashton also wrote that Danny — with whom he appeared on both "That '70s Show" and "The Ranch" — "has always treated people with decency, equality and generosity." He further called Danny "an extraordinarily honest and intentional human being."
Keep reading for what Ashton's wife, Mila, had to say…
What Mila wrote in her letter
Mila Kunis, who's married to Ashton Kutcher, called former co-star Danny Masterson someone with "exceptional character" as well as "an outstanding role model and friend" in her letter to the judge in Danny's case, People magazine reported.
She wrote of sensing "his innate goodness and genuine nature," further calling him "an amazing friend, confidant and, above all, an outstanding older brother figure to me" and adding that "his caring nature and ability to offer guidance have been instrumental in my growth both personally and professionally."
Keep reading to see how Ashton and Mila publicly responded after receiving backlash for their letters…
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Ashton and Mila respond to the backlash
"We are aware of the pain that's been caused by the character letters that we wrote on behalf of Danny Masterson," Ashton began the video.
Mila added, "We support victims. We have done this historically through our work and will continue to do so in the future."
Ashton then explained, "A couple months ago, Danny's family reached out to us and they asked us to write character 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."
According to Mila, "The letters were not written to question the legitimacy of the judicial system or the validity of the jury's ruling."
Added Ashton: "They were intended for the judge to read and not to undermine the testimony of the victims or retraumatize them in any way. We would never want to do that. And we're sorry if that has taken place."
Mila concluded their vide, "Our heart goes out to every single person who has ever been a victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse or rape."
Keep reading to see who else wrote character letters for Danny…
"Jane Doe #1 aka Jen B, one of the women Danny Masterson was convicted of raping, just texted me her reaction to Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis' video: 'This video was incredibly insulting and hurtful. 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. And as to Mila, I can only think of 'Times Up.'"
Who else wrote letters
Two other "That '70s Show" co-stars also wrote character letters to the judge in Danny Masterson's rape case before he was sentenced: Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp, who played the parents on the hit FOX series.
"I consider Danny to be a good friend. Our friendship revolved around work… Danny was the leader among his contemporaries in the cast. He was a tad older and much more experienced and he took that position seriously. During the 8 years we did the show, we never had the problems some other shows had with their younger cast members," Kurtwood wrote in part, as reported by People magazine.
In her letter, Debra wrote that on the set of their show, which ended in 2006, Danny "was well liked and very respected." She shared a story about how he sat down his teenaged co-stars and "had them all make a pact that no one would do drugs because of the nature of our show. The spotlight would be on them and he wanted everyone to succeed. … As a result, you never saw them in the tabloids. Danny made sure of that and I was so appreciative."
Other stars who wrote letters of support for Danny include his wife, Bijou Phillips, plus Ethan Suplee, Eric Balfour, William Baldwin (his brother-in-law), Giovanni Ribisi, Marissa Ribisi, Jonathan Tucker and siblings Jordan, Christopher, Will and Alanna Masterson.
Arrest, trials, verdicts and sentencing
In 2017, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed it was looking into claims that actor Danny Masterson had sexually assaulted multiple women. In 2019, Danny was sued, along with the Church of Scientology, by four women alleging stalking and harassment related to assault allegations against him.
In 2020, he was arrested and charged with three counts of rape for incidents that allegedly occurred between 2001 and 2003. He pleaded not guilty and continues to maintain his innocence.
In late 2022, his sexual assault trial ended in a mistrial due to a deadlocked jury. A new trial concluded in May 2023: A jury found him guilty on two of the three rape counts he was facing; the jury was deadlocked on the third.
Danny was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Sept. 7, 2023. He'll be eligible for parole in 25 and a half years.