A bevy of high-profile stars came to the defense of actor and convicted rapist Danny Masterson before his sentencing Thursday, calling on the judge in his case to offer leniency.
Masterson, 47, was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo on Thursday despite the pleas from his “That ’70s Show” co-stars Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, among others.
“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,” Kutcher wrote in his letter, which was published first by reporter Meghann Cuniff.
The letters in support of defendants by their family and supporters are routine in criminal cases before sentencing. In Masterson’s case, they came as part of a 108-page filing reviewed by The Times. Neither Kunis nor Kutcher argued that Masterson was not guilty of the crimes, but they vouched for his character and the person they knew him to be.
“From the very beginning, I could sense his innate goodness and genuine nature,” Kunis said in her letter. “His caring nature and ability to offer guidance have been instrumental in my growth both personally and professionally.”
In Kutcher’s letter, he noted a time when he said Masterson jumped to the defense of a woman whose boyfriend was berating her at a pizza restaurant.
“It was an incident he didn’t have to get involved in but proactively chose to because the way this man was behaving was not right,” Kutcher wrote.
Both actors said Masterson’s anti-drug attitude helped them to stay on the straight and narrow during their careers in Hollywood.
Masterson was convicted in May of two counts of rape after his second trial on charges stemming from allegations of sexual assaults by three women he knew through the Church of Scientology.
The rapes occurred at Masterson’s Hollywood Hills home in the early 2000s, when he was a rising star from “That ’70s Show.”
The Church of Scientology was invoked repeatedly at trial and became a key focus of defense and prosecution teams alike. The women said the church discouraged them from reporting Masterson to law enforcement at the time of the rapes. The church denied those allegations.
Other well-known Hollywood actors, including Billy Baldwin and Giovanni Ribisi, wrote letters in support of Masterson, as did fellow “That ’70s Show” cast member Debra Jo Rupp.
Numerous family members, including Masterson’s wife, Bijou Phillips Masterson, also penned letters in support.