Fans of That 70s Show have claimed Danny Masterson‘s 30-to-life sentence for rape absolves Topher Grace from accusations that he was too stuck up to spend time with the cast.
Grace’s early departure from the show sparked gossip about why he didn’t seem close with his co-stars. The rumors reemerged when Masterson was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years and a maximum of life in prison on Thursday, September 7.
Fans reacted to the news across social media, causing Grace’s name to trend on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
They claimed the case against Masterson relieved Grace from speculation that the lead actor thought he was better than his castmates.
One user wrote: ‘For years, Topher Grace was depicted like he was a stuck-up a**hole for not being besties with the rest of That ’70s Show cast, but guess who didn’t write a letter in defense of a rapist this year…’
Topher Grace has not issued any sort of response to the Masterson case, but his silence and distance from his co-stars have been praised by fans
Grace departed the show a year before it ended, sparking rumors that he believed he was better than his castmates
The 45-year-old star acts as Tom Hayworth in the ABC sitcom Home Economics and has appeared in a slew of films including the wildly popular space flick Interstellar
Another user recalled claims that Grace was ‘too good for the show’ following his departure and tweeted: ‘Now look who turned out to be the unproblematic one that isn’t having his name dragged through the mud.’
Others created ‘appreciation posts’ for the star.
Grace left the show a year before it ended. He returned for a cameo as his character, Eric Forman, in the finale. He also guest-starred in That 90s Show, a companion series that released on Netflix in January 2023.
The actor currently portrays Tom Hayworth in the ABC sitcom Home Economics.
At least three women accused Masterson of rape between 2001 and 2003, claiming the actor leveraged his position in the Church of Scientology to keep word from getting out.
The women were all members of the church which is centered around a set of practices by author L. Ron Hubbard.
This includes the belief that human is an immortal being called a thetan. Devotees go through a process known as auditing where they are pushed to answer deeply personal questions to take them through past lives.
The church has widely been described as a cult and is known for intimidating former members into silence.
It uses the term ‘fair game’ to describe policies against enemies. These include character assassination and lawsuits against members of the media.
Grace has not publicly commented on Masterson’s sentencing.
However, his wife, Ashley Hinshaw, posted an Instagram story on Friday that appeared to reference the news of Masterson’s sentence.
It read: ‘To every rape victim that is retraumatized by witnessing society debate and focus their attention on what is going to happen to the RAPIST… I see you.’
Hinshaw’s remark was praised by fans including one who commented: ‘You gained a follower, but most importantly, my respect for your support for your support to SA victims involved in the Masterson case.’
Masterson’s conviction has drawn support from other actors like Billy Baldwin, who is married to the half-sister of Masterson’s wife, as well as fellow Scientologist Giovanni Ribisi.
Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp, co-stars on That 70s Show, also voiced their support.
The castmates who attracted the most attention were Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, who played Michael Kelso and Jackie Burkhart.
The husband and wife duo wrote individual letters in a plea to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo to consider a more lenient sentence.
The documents were obtained by legal affairs journalist Meghann Cuniff on September 8. Character letters are intended to show support for a defendant in a criminal case.
Kutcher described himself as an ‘actor, investor, philanthropist, and most importantly a father.’
He wrote: ‘As a friend, Danny has been nothing but a positive influence on me. He’s an extraordinarily honest and intentional human being.’
Kutcher also praised Masterson’s family values and relationship with his 9-year-old daughter.
Kunis wrote similarly glowing praise, speaking at length about her sibling-like relationship with Masterson and his promotion of a drug-free lifestyle.
‘His genuine concern for those around him and his commitment to leading by example make him an outstanding role model and friend,’ the actress said.
While Grace did not issue a statement, his wife Ashley Hinshaw posted a message in support of victims of sexual assault
Their words drew a stark contrast to impact statements read during the trial which contained graphic descriptions of the way Masterson drugged and assaulted his victims.
One woman said she broke the church’s ‘code’ by lodging accusations against an ‘untouchable’ like Masterson.
Following backlash, Kutcher a posted a video of himself and Kunis to Instagram. The comments were turned off.
Kutcher said that Masterson’s family asked them to pen character letters so the judge ‘could take that into full consideration relative to the sentencing.’
‘We are aware of the pain that has been caused by the character letters that we wrote,’ the actor said.
‘We support victims,’ Kunis added before vaguely referencing work the duo has done ‘historically’.
Kutcher said he never would have wanted to ‘re-traumatize the victims’.
Fans called out the irony of Kutcher’s defense while running a charity that fights child sexual abuse.
Kutcher co-founded Thorn with his ex-wife Demi Moore. The organization partners with tech companies, NGOs and law enforcement to fight child trafficking in the digital age.