Ashton Kutcher has resigned from his role as board chairman of Thorn, a nonprofit he co-founded over a decade ago to combat child sexual exploitation, the actor announced Friday.
The decision to step down was "rooted in the recognition of recent events," the organization said in a statement, referencing the backlash against Kutcher and his wife, Mila Kunis, after they wrote letters in support of convicted rapist Danny Masterson.
"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 said in a statement.
"I cannot allow my error in judgment to distract from our efforts and the children we serve," he continued.
Kutcher and Kunis came under fire over letters they submitted to a Los Angeles court describing Masterson as a "dedicated and loyal" husband, an "excellent" role model," and an "outstanding older brother figure" ahead of a judge sentencing him to 30 years to life in prison for sexually assaulting two women.
The couple, who starred on "That '70s Show" with Masterson, said they wrote the letters after Masterson’s family asked them to characterize "the person that we knew for 25 years so that the judge could take that into full consideration relative to the sentencing."
Kathy Griffin and Christina Ricci quickly denounced them for supporting Masterson.
"I don’t really care that when they were working on 'That ’70s Show' he was, like, a good guy to work with and he worked actively to keep people off drugs because he’s a Scientologist," Griffin said, recalling how she repeatedly tried to have her brother Ken Griffin, whom she accused of being a pedophile, arrested.
"Blood was not thicker than water in my case," Griffin said in a video posted to her TikTok and Instagram accounts. "If you know that somebody is committing [sexual assault] you should do something, if you can."
Kutcher said Friday that he realizes his character letter was "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 in his statement. "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."
He also offered an apology to the advocacy community, writing that he would continue to support Thorn's work.