Ashton Kutcher has abruptly resigned from the anti-child-sex-abuse organization he co-founded in 2019 after offering his praise for convicted rapist and That ’70s Show co-star Danny Masterson, according to a letter the actor sent to the board Thursday.
Kutcher and his wife Mila Kunis, who is also stepping down from Thorn, have faced immense backlash for penning glowing court letters that described Masterson as an “extraordinarily honest and intentional human being.” While the couple addressed the criticism in a video last week, they stopped short of an apology.
“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,” Kutcher said in his letter to Thorn’s board. “I cannot allow my error in judgment to distract from our efforts and the children we serve.”
Earlier this month, Masterson was sentenced to 30 years behind bars for violently raping two women at his Hollywood Hills home in 2003. In her letter to the court, Kunis said she could “wholeheartedly vouch for Danny Masterson’s exceptional character and the tremendous positive influence,” calling him “an outstanding role model and friend.”
When a journalist leaked Kutcher and Kunis’ letters of support, critics were quick to point out the couple’s hypocrisy in their public stance against sex abuse and child exploitation.
“I have worked for 15 years to fight for people who are sexually exploited. Victims of sexual abuse have been historically silenced and the character statement I submitted is yet another painful instance of questioning victims who are brave enough to share their experiences,” Kutcher admitted in his Thorn letter.
“The mission must always be the priority and I want to offer my heartfelt apology to all victims of sexual violence and everyone at Thorn who I hurt by what I did. And to the broader advocacy community, I am deeply sorry,” he added.
In an update posted to Thorn’s blog, the organization confirmed Kutcher’s resignation was effective immediately and that the decision was “rooted in the recognition of recent events.” Thorn applauded Kutcher’s contributions and recognized his “significant role in the impact we have made.”
“He has been a strong champion for children and worked tirelessly to protect them from sexual abuse,” Thorn board member Ernie Allen said in the statement. Another board member, Suzanne Bell, acknowledged Kutcher’s “unwavering dedication and commitment” to Thorn.
A spokesperson for Thorn directed The Daily Beast to its statement and did not provide further comment on the matter. A rep for Kutcher also referred The Daily Beast to the statement from Thorn, and a rep for Kunis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.