Skepticism

Ashton Kutcher Supports a Rapist: Friendship, Misogyny or Blackmail?

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Transcript:

Hey pals, today’s video is going to deal with some upsetting topics like sexual assault, rape, and murder. Yep, a real fun one! If that sort of subject bothers you, you might want to give this one a skip or just head over to my Patreon and read the transcript instead of watching the video. As always, the link to that transcript with all references is in the description below.

Despite the dark themes of today’s video, I actually am here to, first of all, deliver some good news: serial rapist and Scientologist-in-good-standing Danny Masterson has been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for his horrific crimes.

I talked about this case back in May, but the basic overview is that at least four women have told the police that Masterson raped them (often with the use of drugs). After years of investigation he was finally charged in 2020, which led to a deadlocked jury. Throughout the investigation and trial, the Church of Scientology was actively interfering in order to protect Masterson. In fact, during this most recent retrial prosecutors revealed that one of the rape victim’s mother informed Scientology higher-ups about Masterson’s crimes, but they ignored her.

I was pretty pessimistic about how this retrial would end and it’s such a relief to see I was wrong, because this rich, white man who has been protected by the Church of Scientology for decades has been held accountable for his crimes against women.

However, this concludes the positive news for today. On to the depressing news, which again I just have to warn you, this is going to start out depressing and get worse and weirder and weirder until we end up somewhere that you honestly will not believe. Yeah, it’s another one of those videos. Let’s start with this: all the people who wrote to the judge in Masterson’s case pleading that she give him the lightest sentence possible after the jury found him guilty of raping two women.

Considering Scientology’s role in all this, it won’t surprise you to learn that his fellow “church” member Giovanni Ribisi wrote in describing Masterson as “ethical” and “honest.” More surprising is the support Masterson got from his friends and former coworkers on That ‘70s Show: “Red” (Kurtwood Smith), “Kitty” (Debra Jo Rupp), and the power couple themselves, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. As far as I know, none of these actors are Scientologists, though I do remember Rupp having a Friends storyline with Ribisi, and there’s a rumor that whenever a Scientologist gets hired for an acting gig, they insist that at least one other Scientologist with less experience get hired, too, and Rupp says that role directly led to her getting the part on That 70s Show, where she worked with a lesser known Scientologist named Danny Masterson so…I don’t know, make of that what you will.

The Foremans’ letters are disappointing but the more interesting letters are from Kunis and Kutcher. Like, sure, they’re long time friends of Masterson’s, but if my twin brother was convicted of rape I would not ask a judge for leniency. A friend since high school? Hell no. I’ll get another friend. A less rapey friend. Bye!

Like the other letter writers, Kunis and Kutcher accept that Masterson has been found guilty of two counts of rape but argue that he’s “an amazing friend, confidant, and, above all, an outstanding older brother figure to me.” Kunis, to her credit, writes like an adult who grew up speaking English, but Kutcher honestly writes like a child who is recounting what he learned today in his DARE program:

“As a role model, Danny has consistently been an excellent one. 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.”

Writing style aside, this moron actually had the nerve to talk about Masterson’s dislike of drugs IN A CASE WHERE HE HAS BEEN FOUND GUILTY OF USING DRUGS TO INCAPACITATE HIS VICTIMS.

THE AUDACITY! It would be like asking a judge to take it easy on Hannibal Lecter because he mentored you on your journey to establishing a strict vegan lifestyle. Who are you fucking kidding?

Kutcher caping for a rapist is particularly rich considering that he has promoted himself as an anti-sex trafficking activist for the past few years. For instance, he got this golden People magazine fluff piece in 2018 proclaiming that “nonprofit organization, Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, assisted law enforcement in identifying 5,894 child sex trafficking victims and rescuing 103 children from “situations where their sexual abuse was recorded and distributed” last year, according to the organization’s own 2017 impact report.”

So what’s with that? Is it possible that Ashton Kutcher doesn’t ACTUALLY care about people being forced to have sex against their will? Or, does he only care about people being raped when they’re minors? Is it possible that once a person, usually a woman, is an adult, he doesn’t actually care what happens to them or even necessarily believe what they say in regards to bein raped? In my opinion, yeah, it’s that last one. And it’s not JUST that in this case it seems Ashton Kutcher doesn’t really believe adult women when they say they’re raped, but his anti-sex trafficking organization Thorn doesn’t seem to believe adult women when they say that they are NOT being raped.

As I mentioned in my OUR video from a few months back, the anti-sex trafficking industry is pretty problematic. Thorn itself focuses on collecting vast quantities of information from online ads posted by sex workers, taking phone numbers, names, and photos and using Amazon’s facial recognition technology to help police identify child sex trafficking victims. That would be The problem is that the vast majority of that data points to consenting adult sex workers who are then harassed by police and forced underground, further endangering them. In fact, as Engadget reported in 2019, many of the organizations that Thorn partners literally do not distinguish between consensual sex work and sex trafficking: “ On the topic of consensual sex work, Journey Out unequivocally states it is a false “perception” that sex work could be a woman’s choice. Nearly all nonprofits Thorn partners with feel the same way, and say so. So much for believing women, or any daydreams about women being the ones who control their bodies.”

And when it comes to helping actual victims, Thorn doesn’t seem to be doing such a great job there, either. Forbes describes one incident in which cops used the service to track an alleged sex trafficking victim for several months, during which time they observed her being slapped and choked by Michael Wilkins, her alleged sex trafficker. They did nothing in order to continue building a case against Wilkins, who also beat another woman so badly she lost sight in one eye. That’s more of a criticism of the police using the tool than of the tool itself, but that is also part of the problem: this tool isn’t limited to helping victims of sexual exploitation. As a researcher at Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology told Forbes, “Technology initially intended to serve a narrow purpose like combating human trafficking can easily and quickly expand into a tool for mass surveillance, especially when there is no oversight of these private and philanthropic partnerships between technology creators and law enforcement agencies.”

Oh, and I haven’t even discussed how journalists and researchers have caught Thorn inflating the number of “successes” they’ve had, or how their facial recognition program is the same one that the ACLU found falsely connected 28 members of Congress with mugshots. Also, I just found this funny: on Thorn’s Wikipedia page, the “Notable Supporters” list includes Drake, who in his 30s was texting dating advice and “I miss you” to 14-year old Millie Bobby Brown AND 17-year old Billie Eilish, Adrian Peterson, who was convicted of beating his own 4-year old child and later arrested for domestic violence he allegedly committed against his wife on an airplane (a situation so severe that the plane turned around in midair and returned to the airport), and Sean Penn, who has filed lawsuits to stop people from discussing why Madonna filed and then dropped an assault complaint against him, so I’ll just quote from this Daily Beast article, which reads, “He allegedly “smacked and roughed up” Madonna while she was tied to a chair, and then left for a few hours to buy more booze—leaving his then-wife bound and gagged—only to return and continue terrorizing her. He only agreed to untie her after she “agreed to perform a degrading sex act on him,” and then fled the house, got in her car, and raced to the sheriff’s office—eventually stumbling inside.

“I hardly recognized her as Madonna,” Lt. Bill McSweeney said at the time. “She was weeping, her lip was bleeding and she had obviously been struck.”

Cool, super cool notable supporters of this anti-sex trafficking organization.

So yeah, when you think about it like that, it’s actually NOT hypocritical at all for noted anti-sex trafficking “activist” Ashton Kutcher to disregard or downplay the concerns of women who have been raped by his buddy.

There’s one more interesting facet to this story that I want to discuss, which is something that one of Masterson’s victims wrote in response to Kutcher’s letter to the judge asking for leniency. And it involves Ashton Kutcher’s connection to a brutal murder. Yes, really.

Chrissie Carnell Bixler is one of the victims I mentioned in my previous video: she says that Masterson raped her while they were dating in the 1990s, and that her public accusations have led Scientologists to stalking and harassing her and her husband and even killing their dogs. Last week, Bixler posted this on Instagram: “Dear Ashton, I know the secrets your “role model” keeps for you. Ones that would end you. Did you forget I was there? You were on speaker phone that night you called Danny on February 21, 2001. I heard everything. I heard the plan. In my opinion, you’re just as sick as your “mentor.””

Interesting! Even more interesting is what happened on February 21, 2001: it turns out that that’s the night 22-year old Ashley Ellerin was stabbed to death in her Hollywood home. It’s also the night that Ashton Kutcher had a date with Ellerin, who he had met a few months prior.

Now, before you jump to any conclusions, let me say that I don’t think that Ashton Kutcher murdered this woman, and I don’t think that’s what Bixler is implying, either. In July of 2021, serial killer Michael Thomas Gargiulo was given the death penalty after being found guilty of that murder, which police said he had committed after months of stalking and harassing Ellerin. Ashton Kutcher actually testified at that trial, stating that he was late to meet Ellerin to take her to a party that night. He claimed he knocked on the door but that no one answered and he assumed that Ellerin was angry that he had kept her waiting so long, so he left. He said he did look in the window and see some red stains inside but assumed they were wine stains. When he heard about the murder the next day, he called the police to tell them what happened because his fingerprints would be found on the door and he “was freaking out.”

But ex-Scientologists have been telling a very different story. Back in February of this year, Aaron Smith-Levin of Growing Up In Scientology published an absolutely wild video in which he says that he has spoken directly with people who interacted with Kutcher that night and say that in fact he actually walked into Ellerin’s home that night, saw her laying on the floor covered in blood, panicked, and ran out to his car and sat there for an hour, parked in front of her house, frantically calling his “team” to figure out what to do to avoid what he thought would be a PR disaster. Smith-Levin says that one of the people he called was Danny Masterson, who helped him come up with a plan to distance himself from the murder, by NOT calling the police and instead leaving the scene, going to the party as planned and saying nothing until Ellerin was found by her roommate later that night.

Smith-Levin goes on to claim that Kutcher’s lying to the police created what would have been reasonable doubt for a defense attorney, which screwed up the investigation to the point that this killer was able to go on to kill again over the next several decades. In another video he says that he got this information directly from LAPD officers who were involved in the investigation.

Smith-Levin addresses the fact that saying all of this leaves him wide open to a defamation lawsuit from Kutcher, by saying he hopes Kutcher DOES sue him so that this all becomes a matter of public record. Like I say, the video is wild, go watch it.

That was back in February. Seven months ago. So, let’s go back to Bixler’s Instagram post: she appears to be saying that when Kutcher called Masterson that night, she was there and heard everything on speakerphone.

I cannot tell you if ANY of this is true. I can tell you that if it isn’t true, it’s a very weird lie for Bixler to make up, and an even weirder lie for Smith-Levin to believe so fully that he’s inviting a millionaire to sue him for defamation. But it is interesting to think about how, if this is all true, it may suggest another reason for Kutcher to plead for leniency in Masterson’s case, besides simple friendship: Masterson, and therefore the leadership of the Church of Scientology, would have a good deal of leverage over him.

So yeah, that’s the update: justice for Masterson’s victims, a bunch of actors have been outed or simply confirmed as rape apologists, Ashton Kutcher’s anti-sex trafficking organization is super problematic, and also he may have lied to police about a woman’s murder in 2001. Man, this is like the second video in a month that went somewhere I wasn’t even planning.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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