Ashton Kutcher is normally a pro at handling Hollywood scandals, including a high-profile divorce (from Demi Moore) and cheating accusations.
But the star turned multi-millionaire investor was criticized for sending a pre-sentencing letter of support to his great friend, convicted rapist Danny Masterson.
Not only are the two men close, but thanks to Masterson – who now faces between 30 years and life in prison – Kutcher has quietly maintained ties to Scientology, Page Six can reveal. And he’s not the only “That ’70s Show” cast member to have participated in activities at the controversial church.
The friends first met on the set of the sitcom, which debuted in 1998.
They played two lazy high school students in the hit sitcom that also starred Kutcher’s now-wife Mila Kunis, Laura Prepon, Wilmer Valderrama and Topher Grace.
Masterson, 47, grew up in Scientology, alongside his younger brother Christopher, who starred in another TV hit, “Malcolm in the Middle,” and their younger siblings Jordan and Alanna. He also made it his mission to bring his actors into the church, sources said.
Claire Headley, a former Scientologist who testified against Masterson as an expert witness at his trial, told Page Six: “Yes, Masterson would have been responsible for bringing them all into Scientology. »
Scientology expert Tony Ortega also said of the Masterson brothers: “There is no doubt that their task was to bring as many actors as possible to Scientology – that was their job. »
Indeed, in December 2003, several cast members from “That ’70s Show” performed at a Christmas fundraiser at the Scientology Celebrity Center in Hollywood. They also appeared at the annual concert in 2005.
The photos show Kutcher, Kunis, Prepon and Valderrama beaming on stage in festive costumes, while Kutcher poses for photos with actress Jenna Elfman, another well-known Scientologist.
Grace was not part of the group and a friend of the actor told Page Six that he was “repulsed” by Scientology.
Prepon actually joined the church while dating Christopher Masterson between 1999 and 2007, although she told People magazine in 2021: “I no longer practice Scientology…I haven’t practiced Scientology in almost five years, and it’s no longer a part of my life. .”
Although Kutcher and Kunis – who married in 2015 – never joined the church, they remained close enough to Masterson to join him at a Scientology wedding in 2019.
In January 2019, Kutcher and Kunis attended the wedding of Scientologist Justin Mooney, who appeared on Kutcher’s Netflix show, “The Ranch,” which also starred Masterson before he was axed by the streamer in December 2017.
Los Angeles police first announced they were investigating Masterson in March 2017 after three women came forward to accuse him of s****l a*sault in the early 2000s. A fourth accuser has come forward in November.
Mooney and his wife Brittany Brisco were married by their friend, “The Sandlot” actor and longtime Scientologist Patrick Renna, who performed the Scientology ceremony at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif. .
Page Six reached out to representatives for Kutcher and Masterson.
Kuther wrote in his letter to the sentencing judge: “I directly credit Danny with not falling into the typical Hollywood drug life. Every time we had to meet someone or interact with someone who was on or off drugs, he would make it clear to us that this would not be a good person to be friends with. And for me, that meant that if I were to do drugs, he wouldn’t want to be friends with me, which I would never want to risk or jeopardize.
Sources present at the time say Kutcher, now 45, and Masterson were still in town in Hollywood when they were just becoming famous.
An industry source told Page Six: “I would see Danny and Ashton out… it was the beginning and we all loved partying.
“But I think…they kind of got stuck in arrested development, partying and dating models.”
Kutcher dated a string of stars, including Brittany Murphy, who died in 2009, and later married Demi Moore. But some of his brazen comments about women in Hollywood are now coming back to haunt him.
In a clip from Kutcher’s 2003 reality show “Punk’d” — which was resurfaced this week by one of Masterson’s accusers, Chrissie Carnell Bixler — he said about Hilary Duff , then aged 15: “And she’s one of those girls that we “I’m all waiting until I’m 18.” With the Olsen twins.
In another clip, from “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” Kunis recounts how Masterson once pledged to give Kutcher $10 if he “French kissed” him on the sitcom’s set; she was 14 at the time.
“And I seem to think, ‘This is slightly illegal, isn’t it,'” Kutcher admitted,
“Those boys could be cruel and I think Ashton was in love with Danny, and he still is,” the industry source said.
However, Kutcher – who now has an estimated fortune of $200 million after successfully launching a venture capital fund, Sound Ventures – admitted he has been struggling since Masterson was accused of forcefully raping three women at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003.
He told Esquire in January that while he remained friends with Masterson and his brother Christopher, he supported victims of abuse and a*sault, saying, “I completely empathize with anyone who feels violated in any way it would be.”
As Kutcher noted, Masterson, who had been working in Hollywood since childhood, became his mentor.
Therefore, Kutcher said he wants Masterson “to be found innocent of the charges against him.”
Masterson’s first rape trial ended in a deadlocked jury and a mistrial last November. Last week he was found guilty of two out of three counts of rape.
All of Masterson’s accusers were members of Scientology, and prosecutors claimed the organization helped cover up the allegations, something the Church denied.
Appealing to Judge Charlaine Olmedo for leniency in sentencing, Kutcher called Masterson a “role model” and “extraordinarily honest.”
Kunis’ own letter highlighted Masterson’s “exceptional character” and his “enormous positive influence” on her.
But the couple were soon forced to apologize. The letters, Kutcher said, “were intended to be read by the judge and not to undermine the victims’ testimony, nor to retraumatize them in any way.” We would never want to do that. And we’re sorry if this happened.