Ashton Kutcher is normally a pro at navigating Hollywood scandals — including a high-profile divorce (with Demi Moore) and accusations of cheating.
But the star turned multi-millionaire investor has come under fire for sending a pre-sentencing letter of support for his great friend, convicted rapist Danny Masterson.
Not only are the pair close, but thanks to Masterson — who now faces between 30 years to 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 who got roped into activities at the controversial church.
The pals first met on the set of the sitcom, which debuted in1998.
They played a pair of layabout high-school stoners on the hit sitcom which 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 get his cast members into the church, according to sources.
Claire Headley, a former Scientologist who testified against Masterson as an expert witness during his trial, told Page Six: “Yes, Masterson would have been tasked with bringing them all in to Scientology.”
Scientology expert Tony Ortega also said of the Masterson brothers: “There’s no question that their assigned task was to get as many cast members into Scientology as possible — that was their job.”
Indeed, back in December 2003, several actors from “That ’70s Show” performed at a Christmas fundraiser at the Scientology Celebrity Centre in Hollywood. They also appeared at the annual concert in 2005.
Photos show Kutcher, Kunis, Prepon and Valderrama beaming on stage clad 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 he was “turned off” by Scientology.
Prepon actually joined the church while dating Christopher Masterson between 1999 until 2007, although she told People magazine in 2021 “I’m no longer practicing Scientology … I haven’t practiced Scientology in close to five years, and it’s no longer part of my life.”
Although Kutcher and Kunis — who wed in 2015 — never joined the church, they remained close enough to Masterson that they joined 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.
The Los Angeles Police Department first announced they were launching an investigation into Masterson in March 2017 after three women came forward to accuse him of sexual assault in the early 2000s. A fourth accuser came forward that 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 Saint Helena, California.
Page Six has reached out to reps for Kutcher and Masterson.
Kuther wrote in his letter to the sentencing judge: “I attribute not falling into the typical Hollywood life of drugs directly to Danny. Any time that we were to meet someone or interact with someone who was on drugs, or did drugs, he made it clear that that wouldn’t be a good person to be friends with. And for me, that was an implication that if I were to do drugs, he wouldn’t want to be friends with me, which is something I never would want to risk or jeopardize.”
Sources who were there at the time say that Kutcher, now 45, and Masterson were always out on the town in Hollywood when they were just becoming famous.
One industry source told Page Six: “I would see Danny and Ashton out … it was the early aughts and we all liked to party.
“But I think … they kind of got stuck in an arrested development, partying and going out with models.”
Kutcher dated a string of stars including Brittany Murphy, who died in 2009, and went on to marry Demi Moore. But some of his brash comments about Hollywood women have now come back to haunt him.
In a clip from Kutcher’s reality TV show “Punk’d” in 2003 — which were resurfaced this week by one of Masterson’s accusers, Chrissie Carnell Bixler — he said of Hilary Duff, then 15: “And she’s one of those girls that we’re all waiting for to turn 18. Along with the Olsen twins.”
In another clip, from “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” Kunis is seen recounting how Masterson once pledged to give Kutcher $10 if he would “french kiss” her on the sitcom’s set; she was 14 at the time.
“And I’m like thinking, ‘This is slightly illegal, right,’” Kutcher admitted,
“These boys could be cruel and I think that Ashton was enamored by Danny, and he remains so,” said the industry source.
However, Kutcher — who now has an estimated $200 million fortune after launching a successful venture-capital fund, Sound Ventures — admitted he he had been struggling ever since Masterson was charged with forcibly raping three women at his home in the Hollywood Hills between 2001 and 2003.
He told Esquire in January that although he remained friends with Masterson and his brother Christopher, he supported victims of abuse and assault, saying, “I wholesale feel for anybody who feels like they were violated in any way.”
As Kutcher noted, Masterson, who had been working in Hollywood since childhood, became a mentor to him.
Therefore, Kutcher said he wanted Masterson “to be found innocent of the charges against him.”
Masterson’s first rape trial ended with a deadlocked jury and a mistrial last November. Last week, he was was convicted of two out of three counts of rape.
All of Masterson’s accusers were members of Scientology and prosecutors alleged that the organization helped cover up the allegations, which the church has denied.
Appealing to judge Charlaine Olmedo for leniency in sentencing, Kutcher called Masterson as a “role model” and “extraordinarily honest.”
Kunis’s own letter noted Masterson’s “exceptional character” and his “tremendous positive influence” on her.
But the couple were soon forced to apologize. The letters, Kutcher said, “were intended for the judge to read, and not to undermine the testimony of the victims, or to retraumatize them in any way. We would never want to do that. And we’re sorry if that has taken place.”
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