On Thursday (7 September), Masterson was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for the rapes of two women two decades ago.
It was then revealed that Kutcher and Kunis, who starred alongside Masterson in That ’70s Show, were among 50 people who “vouched” for the 47-year-old actor’s “exceptional character” ahead of his sentencing.
In their letters, which were published by Los Angeles-based court reporter Meghann Cuniff on Friday (9 September), the couple pleaded for Judge Charlaine Olmedo’s leniency.
Kutcher called his co-star, whom he also starred alongside in Netflix sitcom The Ranch, a “role model” and “a person that is consistently there for you when you need him”.
After their letters were made public, Kutcher and Kunis received huge criticism for their decision to write them – and the couple posted a video on Saturday (9 September) addressing the controversy.
“We are aware of the pain that has been caused by the character letters that we wrote on behalf of Danny Masterson,” Kutcher said in the clip, which was posted on their social media accounts.
Kunis added: “We support victims. We have done this historically through our work and will continue to do so in the future.”
Kutcher explained that Masterson’s family had contacted his former co-stars about writing the character letters to “represent the person that we knew for 25 years.”, with Kunis stating: “The letters were not written to question the legitimacy of the judicial system, or the validity of the jury’s ruling.”
Dude, Where’s My Car? and Just Married actor Kutcher continued: “They were intended for the judge to read and not to undermine the testimony of the victims or re-traumatise them in any way. We would never want to do that, and we’re sorry if that has taken place.”
Kunis said that their “hearts go out to every single person who’s ever been a victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse or rape”.
The couple are facing a backlash for the video, with many questioning the wording of their apology.
Shortly after it was shared, Christina Ricci posted an Instagram Story that, while not mentioning Kutcher and Kunis by name, appeared to be a direct response to the letter controversy.
The Addams Family and Yellowjackets actor wrote: “So sometimes people we loved and admired do horrible things. They might not do these things to us and we only know who they were to us but that doesn’t mean they didn’t do the horrible things and to discredit the abused is a crime.
“People we know as ‘awesome guys’ can be predators and abusers. It’s tough to accept but we have to. If we say we support victims – women, children, men, boys – then we must be able to take this stance.”
The actor continued: “Unfortunately I’ve known lots of ‘awesome guys’ who were lovely to me but have been proven to be abusers privately. I’ve also had personal experience with this. Believe victims. It’s not easy to come forward. It’s not easy to get a conviction.”
Kutcher wrote in his letter: “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.”
Meanwhile, in her letter, Kunis called Masterson “an amazing friend, confidant, and, above all, an outstanding older brother figure to me”.
She wrote: “Danny Masterson’s warmth, humour, and positive outlook on life have been a driving force in shaping my character and the way I approach life’s challenges. I wholeheartedly vouch for Danny Masterson’s exceptional character and the tremendous positive influence he has had on me and the people around him.”
Masterson had initially been accused of drugging and raping three women at his home between 2001 and 2003. Last week, he was convicted of raping two of the women in 2003, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the third allegation, which was brought forward by a former girlfriend.
In the wake of the Kutcher-Kunis letter controversy, a clip of Kutcher making a vulgar comment about an underage Hilary Duff in 2003 has resurfaced online.
Rape Crisis offers support for those affected by rape and sexual abuse. You can call them on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, and 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland, or visit their website at www.rapecrisis.org.uk.
If you are in the US, you can call Rainn on 800-656-HOPE (4673)