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Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis’ Letters for Danny Masterson: A Problematic Response

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis' Letters for Danny Masterson: A Problematic Response
Image: KEVIN WINTER/GETTY IMAGES

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have found themselves embroiled in controversy due to character letters they wrote for their former “That ’70s Show” co-star, Danny Masterson. Masterson was recently sentenced to 30 years to life in prison after being convicted of raping two women in 2003. Kutcher and Kunis, along with other high-profile friends of Masterson, provided character references on his behalf at the request of Masterson’s family.

According to the testimony of the victims, Masterson had drugged them before sexually assaulting them. One victim even testified that Masterson had held a gun while raping her and placed a pillow over her face. Both victims were members of the Church of Scientology, as was Masterson. 

The character letters shared by Kutcher and Kunis did not sway the judgment in Masterson’s favor but they did ignite a firestorm of criticism. The letters were obviously not meant for the public eye. Now that those have come out, Kutcher took to Instagram to say that the letters “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.” 

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Kutcher has always positioned himself as an advocate against sexual violence having initiated movements against child sex trafficing. That he would write a letter in support of a convicted sexual abuser has been particularly critiqued. However, hypocrisy is not an uncommon trait among human beings. People who genuinely care about combatting sexual violence might also be concerned about the future of a friend who has been convicted with sexual assault. 

Aside from highlighting his good character, these letters also focus on his opposition to drugs. This particular focus casts doubt on the victims’ testimony. While the letters do not explicitly question the truthfulness of the accounts, they do tend to highlight inconsistencies between the accusation and the convict’s character. “One of the most remarkable aspects of Danny’s character is his unwavering commitment to discouraging the use of drugs,” Kunis wrote. She added that “His dedication to living a drug-free life” makes him “an outstanding role model and friend.”

In essence, writing a character letter to a judge to present a fuller picture of a convicted individual is not inherently wrong. However, the letters written by Kutcher and Kunis have some problematic elements and the main issue is that they haven’t extended the same compassion to the victims as they did to the convict. 

About the author

Sruti Chowdhury

Sruti is a storyteller for all trades. She loves to write about everything -- from sci-fi movies to cyber security. She is a phenomenal singer, an ardent reader, and dreams to travel the world.

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