Ashton Kutcher is stepping back from his leadership role at Thorn, the anti-human-trafficking organization co-founded by the actor.
The Ranch star and producer resigned as board chair in a letter to the board published on the organization’s website Friday. The letter cited Kutcher and partner Mila Kunis’ character letter for convicted rapist and fellow That ’70s Show star Danny Masterson.
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“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. I cannot allow my error in judgment to distract from our efforts and the children we serve,” Kutcher wrote.
The actor, who founded the organization with fellow actor and ex-wife Demi Moore, noted despite his more than a decade and a half of work focused on supporting sexually exploited people globally, his letter in support of Masterson was another form of the historical silencing of the victims whom the organization fights for.
“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. This is precisely what we have all worked to reverse over the last decade,” he said. “The mission must always be the priority, and I want to offer my heartfelt apology to all victims of sexual violence and everyone at Thorn who I hurt by what I did. And to the broader advocacy community, I am deeply sorry.”
Kutcher ended the statement by noting that he was “proud of what we have accomplished in the past decade and will continue to support Thorn’s work. Thank you for your tireless advocacy and dedication to this cause.”
According to a Time magazine report, Kunis has also stepped down from her position as an observer on the board. The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to a rep for Kunis for comment.
In response to Kutcher’s resignation, Thorn board member Suzanne Bell showed support for the actor and organization’s co-founder, noting that “his unwavering dedication and commitment to Thorn throughout its journey have enabled the organization to become the leader that it is in the child safety ecosystem. It has been my privilege to join him on this mission.”
Nearly a week ago, Kutcher and Kunis published a joint video apology to their Instagram after their character references requesting sentencing leniency for Masterson — who is facing a minimum of 30 years in prison after being found guilty of two counts of rape — were publicized.
“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 video posted Saturday.
“We support victims. We have done this historically through our work and will continue to do so in the future,” Kunis added.
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