Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis were two of more than 50 people who wrote to the judge in the Danny Masterson sexual assault trial to support the convicted actor ahead of his sentencing, per court documents obtained by Variety.
Kutcher and Kunis, who are married and share two young children, starred with Masterson on Fox’s sitcom “That ’70s Show,” which ran for eight seasons and 200 episodes between 1998 and 2006. Kutcher then starred with Masterson on Netflix’s “The Ranch.” Masterson was written out of the show in its third season, after being accused of sexual assault in 2017.
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Kutcher and Kunis wrote letters in an effort to the urge the judge for a lesser sentencing. In Kutcher’s letter, he referred to Masterson as a “role model.” In Kunis’ letter, she vouched for Masterson’s “exceptional character” and referred to him as an “outstanding older brother figure.”
Masterson had been facing 30 years to life, which is the maximum sentence allowed by law. His defense was asking for 15 years to life, so those who wrote letters to the judge were likely aware he would be getting at least 15 years in prison. On Thursday, he was sentenced to the maximum 30 years to life in downtown Los Angeles. He will be eligible for parole when he is 77 years old.
Other stars from “The 70’s Show” who wrote to the judge include Debra Jo Rupp, who played Kitty on the sitcom, and Kurtwood Smith, who played Red. Masterson’s famous family members also wrote letters in his support, including his siblings Alanna Masterson (“The Walking Dead”), Christopher Masterson (“Malcolm In the Middle”), Jordan Masterson (“Last Man Standing”), as well as his brother-in-law Billy Baldwin and his wife, the actor and model Bijou Phillips. Other Hollywood names who wrote to the judge include actor Giovanni Ribisi; Jim Patterson, creator of Netflix’s “The Ranch;” Masterson’s former publicist, Jenni Weinman; and TV director David Trainer, who worked on “The 70’s Show” and “The Ranch.”
In Kutcher’s letter, he writes: “While I’m aware that the judgement has been cast as guilty on two counts of rape by force 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. Thank you for taking the time to read this.”
Kunis’ letter adds: “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.”
Both Kutcher and Kunis wrote about Masterson’s drug-free lifestyle, and noted he was a positive force on their lives. During the trial, prosecutors said Masterson drugged women before sexually assaulting them.
“One of the most remarkable aspects of Danny’s character is his unwavering commitment to discouraging the use of drugs. His influence on my in this regard has been invaluable,” Kunis wrote. “In an industry where the pressures and temptations of substance use can be overwhelming, Danny played a pivotal role in guiding me away from such destructive paths. His dedication to avoiding all substances has inspired not only me but also countless others in our circle. Danny’s steadfastness in promoting a drug-free lifestyle has been a guiding light in my journey through the entertainment world and has helped me prioritize my well-being and focus on make responsible choices.”
Kutcher wrote, “I attribute not falling into the typical Hollywood life of drugs directly to Danny.” He continued, “Any time that we were to meet someone or interact with someone who was on drugs, or did drugs, he made it clear that wouldn’t be a good person to be friends with… I am grateful to him for that positive peer pressure.”
Variety has reached out to Kutcher and Kunis’ representatives for further comment.
Tony Ortega, a prominent journalist who regularly covers Scientology and extensively covered Masterson’s case, was first to publish the letters in full on his Substack page.
Masterson was charged in June 2020 with three counts of rape from alleged incidents that took place between 2001 and 2003. His 2022 court case ended in a mistrial in December. The judge opted to re-try the case, and Masterson faced a second trial this year, which ended in him being convicted of two counts of rape. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Sept. 7.
Speaking to Esquire in January 2023, Kutcher said he wanted Masterson “to be found innocent of the charges brought against him.” However, he stressed that didn’t mean he wanted Masterson off the hook for alleged crimes. Kutcher just hoped Masteron’s alleged behavior wasn’t true because Masterson was such a mentor for him throughout his career. “Ultimately, I can’t know,” Kutcher said at the time about the outcome of Masterson’s trial. “I’m not the judge. I’m not the jury. I’m not the DA. I’m not the victim. And I’m not the accused. And so, in that case, I don’t have a space to comment. I just don’t know.”
At the sentencing, the three Jane Does in the case told the judge that Masterson’s crimes had ruined their lives, and asked the judge to give Masterson life behind bars. Masterson did not speak at his sentencing.
Scroll below for some excerpts from the letters to the judge in Danny Masterson’s trial…
Bijou Phillips — model, actor and Masterson’s wife
“Danny is an amazing father. Our daughter and I are heartbroken that he is not home with us. It has been very difficult without him here. Even though is he now in jail, he calls her every day…
“We need him more than you can imagine. I know he has been convicted of serious crimes. But the main I married has only been an extraordinary husband to me and a devoted father to our daughter.”
Billy Baldwin — actor and Masterson’s brother-in-law (Baldwin is married to Wilson Phillips singer Chynna Phillips, who is Bijou Phillips’ sister)
“I know that Danny has been convicted of a very serious crime and is facing a lengthy prison sentence. The purpose of this letter is to inform you about the Danny Masterson that I know. Danny the man, the friend, colleague, family member, husband, and father…
“I have worked in the entertainment industry for 35 years and I can say unequivocally that I have never known anyone that is more beloved that Danny Masterson…
“Since he has been incarcerated, I have heard him on the phone with his daughter helping her with her math homework while she tries to navigate through this devastating life-changing event at only nine years old.”
Will Masterson — brother
“In 2009, I graduated from USC… Danny was the only one of my siblings to sit through the entire graduation ceremony in the scalding hot sun…
“He didn’t make it a secret how proud of me he was, as he’ll tell almost everyone I’m introduced to that I’m his brother who went to college.”
Debra Jo Rupp — actor, “The 70’s Show”
“Danny was the leader of the ‘kids’ on our show. He had the most acting experience and was a little bit older. He was well liked and very respected. One of the first things Danny did with them was to sit them all down (he had a little meeting) 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. They all kept their word…
“Over the years Danny is one of the few that came to support me by seeing my shows in the theater. He brought his family sometimes. And it was a joy.”
Kurtwood Smith — actor, “The 70’s Show”
“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 with the show, we never had the problems some other shows had with their younger cast members.”
Giovanni Ribisi — actor and friend
“I have known Danny Masterson since I was 9 years old. When we were children, Danny would trek across the country from New York and stay with my family and me in North Hollywood during the peak audition months for child actors. It was always a joy for my family to have him as a guest…
“I have always known Danny to be an ethical, honest person, who lived with the highest standards in work and family. I have always known Danny to be a central figure in my peer group, because of his integrity, his stance against drugs, his abhorrence of violence and most of all the respect he demonstrates toward women and children.”
Alanna Masterson — actor and sister
“The most important thing about my brother Danny is his relationship with his 9 year old daughter. They are best friends. He does everything with her and for her. Homework, story time, dance class, mini gold, baking, brushing and braiding her hair so her circles don’t get into knots. They have ballet recitals in the living room, and ice skating duets at the rink. They go and see movies every Saturday and go on long adventures together. She’d be lost without him, we all would be. He’s our family’s true North Star for so many friends and loved ones.”
Mila Kunis — actor, “The 70’s Show”
“I first met Danny during our time working together on ‘That 70’s Show,’ and from the very beginning, I could sense his innate goodness and genuine nature. Throughout our time together, Danny has proven to be an amazing friend, confidant, and, above all, an outstanding older brother figure to me. His caring nature and ability to offer guidance have been instrumental in my growth both personally and professionally…
“His genuine concern for those around him and his commitment to leading by example make him an outstanding role model and friend.”
Ashton Kutcher — actor, “The 70’s Show” and “The Ranch”
“Danny takes his job seriously. He is kind, courteous, and hard working. He treated everyone from the grips to the teamsters to the actors to the caterers as equals. As a role model, Danny has consistently been an excellent one…
“There was an incident where we were at a pizza parlor and a belligerent man entered who was berating his girlfriend. We had never met or seen these people before, but Danny was the first person to jump to the defense of this girl. It was an incident he didn’t have to get involved in but proactively chose to because the way this man was behavior was not right. He has always treated people with decency, equality, and generosity.”
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