(The Hill) — Ashton Kutcher, co-founder of Thorn – a technology company protecting children from sexual abuse – announced Friday he would resign from the organization’s board amid backlash he received for supporting former co-star and convicted rapist Danny Masterson.
“This decision is rooted in the recognition of recent events and ensuring Thorn remains focused on its mission: to build technology to defend children from sexual abuse,” the company, founded by Kutcher and Demi Moore, said in a statement.
On Sept. 7, a Los Angeles judge sentenced Masterson to 30 years to life in prison for raping two women. Kutcher and his wife, actress Mila Kunis, who both co-starred with Masterson on “That 70’s Show,” wrote character letters to the judge prior to Masterson’s sentencing.
In his letter, Kutcher described Masterson as a friend he considers a “brother” and a “role model.” Kutcher and Kunis were heavily criticized over their support of Masterson, later releasing a video on social media to say the letters “were intended for the judge to read and not to undermine the testimony of the victims or retraumatize them in any way.”
The couple received more backlash for their apology in the days since it was posted to Kutcher’s Instagram account.
“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, effective immediately,” Kutcher wrote in a letter to fellow board members. “I cannot allow my error in judgment to distract us from our efforts and the children we serve.”
Kutcher wrote that the character statement he submitted to the judge is “yet another painful instance of questioning victims who are brave enough to share their experiences.”
The message from the Thorn team concluded that they “humbly ask for the continued support of our community, partners, and supporters as we continue our commitment to building a world where every child can be safe, curious, and happy.”