As Danny Masterson gears up for his second trial for sexual assault charges, his former That ‘70s Show and The Ranch costar Ashton Kutcher is addressing the controversy for the first time.
“Ultimately, I can’t know. I’m not the judge. I’m not the jury. I’m not the DA. I’m not the victim. And I’m not the accused,” Kutcher, 44, told Esquire for its first-ever digital cover story, published on Tuesday, January 31. “And so, in that case, I don’t have a space to comment. I just don’t know.”
He added that he hopes Masterson will “be found innocent of the charges brought against him.”
Masterson, 46, was originally accused of sexual assault in March 2017. After denying the claims for years, he was charged in June 2020 with allegedly raping three women and pleaded not guilty in January 2021.
Masterson’s trial began in October 2022. The following month, the jury was unable to come to a unanimous vote, causing the judge to declare it a mistrial. Jury selection for the second trial is set to begin in March.
The Two and a Half Men alum, for his part, has found it difficult to watch his costar’s legal battle play out. “Someday, his kid is going to read about this,” he said in Tuesday’s cover story, referring to Fianna, 8, whom Masterson shares with wife Bijou Phillips. At the same time, Kutcher is also an advocate for victims of abuse. He cofounded Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children — which aims to defend children from online sexual abuse — in 2012.
“I wholesale feel for anybody who feels like they were violated in any way,” the Just Married actor said.
The outlet reports that Kutcher confirmed he is still in touch with Masterson and speaks to Masterson’s brother “often.”
Kutcher and Masterson were both starring on Netflix’s The Ranch when four women came forward with allegations against the latter in 2017. The Men at Work alum was booted from the sitcom later that year.
“As a result of ongoing discussions, Netflix and the producers have written Danny Masterson out of The Ranch,” a spokesperson for the streaming company told Us in a statement in December 2017. “[Monday] was his last day on the show, and production will resume in early 2018 without him.”
Masterson reacted to the decision that same month. “I am obviously very disappointed in Netflix’s decision to write my character off of The Ranch,” he said in a statement to Us at the time. “From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me. Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit.”
Years later, Masterson was the only That ‘70s Show main cast member not to reprise his role on the show’s reboot, That ‘90s Show, which premiered earlier this month. Kutcher made an appearance on the teen sitcom along with fellow OGs Topher Grace, Laura Prepon, Wilmer Valderrama and real-life wife Mila Kunis. (Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith also returned as series regulars.)
On Tuesday, the Butterfly Effect star recalled how Masterson was the leader of the cast back when the original period teen sitcom was on the air.
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“He’s like, ‘One f—king rule: Don’t do anything f—king stupid and f—k this up. Because if you f—k it up, you f—k it up for everybody,’” he said of the Yes Man actor’s advice for the group at the time.
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