Having publicly hoped earlier this year that Danny Masterson would be found “innocent” of rape charges in his retrial, Ashton Kutcher also sought to convince the judge in his That 70s Show co-star’s case of what a great guy the defendant is.
“Not only is he a good friend to me I’ve witnessed him be a good friend to others and the kind of brother others would be lucky to have,” Kutcher wrote Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo late last month as Masterson awaited sentencing on being found guilty of two counts of rape this spring. “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,” Kutcher said as one of many high profile names like Mila Kunis advocating on Masterson’s behalf.
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On September 7, 47-year-old Masterson was sentenced to 30 years behind bars by Judge Olmedo. His defense team unsuccessfully sought to have their client serve his time on the two counts of rape he was found guilty of on May 31 concurrently not consecutively. After sentencing, defense attorney Shawn Holley unsurprisingly announced an appeal was coming.
“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,” Kutcher, who also starred with Masterson on Netflix’s The Ranch went on to write on July 27 in one of dozens of letters of consideration submitted to the court. “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” (read Ashton Kutcher’s letter here).
Free on bail of $3 million until May 31 of this year when the verdict was delivered, Masterson was arrested in 2020 over the alleged assaults that occurred between 2001 and 2003 in his Hollywood Hills house. The prominent Scientologist was fired from The Ranch in 2017 as allegations began to circulate and excluded from the That 90s Show revival. Also party to a soon-to-be-restarted civil trial by the Jane Does with Scientology as co-defendant, Masterson has always insisted sex with the three Jane Does was consensual. The three Jane Does were all once members of the Church of Scientology and claim the David Miscavige-led organization covered up the assaults and punished them for reporting the attacks to police.
Masterson’s retrial began on April 24 and concluded on May 12 with the defense calling no witnesses. Closing arguments started on May 16 and ended early on May 17 with the final rebuttal delivered by Deputy L.A. County Attorney Reinhold Mueller before Judge Olmedo, Masterson and supporters, and the jury.
Along with Kutcher and his ex-co-star and spouse Mila Kunis, That 70s Show’s Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith, Giovanni Ribisi, Westwood star Jonathan Tucker, The Ranch co-creator Jim Patterson (read Patterson’s letter here) were among those who vouched for Masterson’s character and sought to impress Judge Olmedo with the defendant’s “innate goodness and genuine nature,” as Kunis said (read Mila Kunis’ letter here). “He is a devoted husband and a doting father who sacrifices for his family,” Avatar actor Ribisi, who is a Scientologist like Masterson, wrote. “His wife and daughter depend on him. I know Danny has been convicted of two counts of forcible rape. I only ask that you consider his daughter in his sentencing. He is a good father and he is important to her and her upbringing” (read Giovanni Ribisi’s letter here).
Almost all the letters, from friends and members of the Masterson family, make a point of noting what a good friend, father and husband Masterson is, yet many ignore the actual sexual assault charges he was found guilty of over two trials.
One thing that also emerges from the letters is the perhaps dire state of of Masterson’s wife Bijou Phillips’ health – which is brought up on a number of occasions. “With him no longer there, it has been hard for Bijou to be home raising their daughter,” writes Masterson’s mother and former talent agent Carol Masterson in an emotionally vivid correspondence. “There is also a very real possibility that Bijou’s body will reject her new kidney. If that happens, I worry about my granddaughter.”
In a heavily redacted letter detailing how Masterson calls every night from prison, Phillips herself wrote to the judge of her husband: “I know he has been convicted of serious crimes. But the man I married has only been an extraordinary husband and devoted father to our daughter.” (read Bijou Phillips’ letter here).
Present at yesterday’s sentencing hearing at DTLA’s Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center for the powerful victim statements read out by two of the Jane Does in the case, Phillips was openly crying during a lot of the session. While not loudly sobbing like she did when the verdict was revealed on May 31 and flight risk Masterson was taken into custody, Phillips, Carol Masterson and other members of the family left quicky in waiting cars outside the building.
While acknowledging the letters in her sentencing, Judge Olmedo concentrated on the consequences of the verdict for the former celebrity.
“I know that you’re sitting here steadfast in your claims of innocence, and thus no doubt feeling victimized by a justice system that has failed you,” she said to him directly in the 9th floor courtroom. “But Mr. Masterson, you are not the victim here. Your actions 20 years ago took away another person’s voice, and choice. One way or another you will have to come to terms with your prior actions, and their consequences.”
The letters from friends, family and That 70s Show co-stars were part of a sentencing memorandum submitted by the defense yesterday before the sentencing hearing started. The somewhat redacted memo became public today (read the full Masterson defense sentencing memo here).
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