LOS ANGELES — Ashton Kutcher has resigned from his role as board chair of Thorn, the nonprofit he co-founded, as he continues to face the fallout of his letter of support for convicted rapist Danny Masterson.
Kutcher and Mila Kunis have been criticized for character letters they wrote on behalf of fellow “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson before he was sentenced for rape. A judge in Los Angeles sentenced Masterson to 30 years to life in prison for raping two women in 2003.
Thorn focuses on using technology to fight child sex trafficking and exploitation, according to its website. Kutcher and Demi Moore founded the nonprofit together in 2012.
The nonprofit shared the news of Kutcher's resignation in a blog post Friday, which said the decision was "rooted in the recognition of recent events" and included Kutcher's resignation letter to the board.
"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 as Chairman of the Board, effectively immediately," Kutcher's letter said. "I cannot allow my error in judgment to distract from our efforts and the children we serve."
"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," he continued.
His resignation is effective immediately.
The couple posted a video apology on social media after the character letters were made public, in which Kutcher described Masterson as a man who treated people "with decency, equality, and generosity." Kunis in her letter called Masterson “an outstanding role model and friend” and an “exceptional older brother figure."
Kutcher and Kunis said they were sorry for the pain they may have caused with the letters, and said the letters that asked for leniency “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.”
Kutcher said Masterson’s family asked them to write character letters. Masterson starred with Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace in “That ’70s Show” from 1998 until 2006.
He had reunited with Kutcher on the 2016 Netflix comedy “The Ranch,” but was written off the show when the Los Angeles Police Department investigation was revealed the following year.
Both rapes took place in Masterson’s Hollywood-area home in 2003 when he was at the height of his fame on the Fox network sitcom “That ’70s Show.” The victims testified that Masterson drugged them before violently raping them.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.