Ashton Kutcher (45) co-founded the non-governmental organization “Thorn” in 2012, which campaigns against child sexual abuse and human trafficking. As “Thorn” reports, the actor is stepping down as chairman of the board after criticism of a letter he wrote.

Before the sentence for Danny Masterson (47) was announced, Kutcher and his wife, Mila Kunis (40), wrote “character letters” to the judge responsible in which they wrote very positively about their friend and colleague. Masterson was later sentenced by a Los Angeles court to 30 years to life in prison for two counts of rape.

After he and his wife “several days of listening, personally reflecting, learning and speaking with survivors as well as Thorn’s employees and leadership,” he has decided to step down as CEO effective immediately, Kutcher said. He couldn’t allow this “error in my judgment to distract from our efforts and the children we serve.”

“Victims of sexual abuse have been silenced in the past, and the character statement I submitted is another painful example of the questioning of victims who are brave enough to share their experiences,” he continued. The mission of “Thorn” must always be at the forefront and he wants to sincerely apologize to all victims of sexual violence as well as all employees of the organization “whom I hurt through what I did.” He is proud of what has been achieved with “Thorn” over the past decade and wants to continue to support the work.

Kutcher had described the convicted actor, among other things, according to a report in People magazine, which had the letters, as a good role model who had saved him from leading “a typical Hollywood life full of drugs.” Kunis wrote about an “incredible friend” who was also “a confidant” for her “and, above all, an outstanding figure of an older brother.”

The couple later apologized in a joint video on Instagram. “We recognize the pain caused by the character letters we wrote for Danny Masterson,” Kutcher said. “We support victims […] and will continue to do so in the future,” Kunis added. They were asked to write the letters by Masterson’s family and, according to the actress, did not write them “to question the legitimacy of the justice system or the validity of the jury’s decision.”

At the end of May, Masterson was found guilty of two counts of rape. A twelve-member jury found it proven that Masterson raped two women in 2003. In a third case against him, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Masterson denied allegations that the sexual acts were consensual. At the beginning of September the sentence of 30 years to life imprisonment was announced.