Anti-human trafficking organisation Thorn will continue their child protection work without Ashton Kutcher.
Co-founded in 2012 by the actor and his then-wife, fellow star Demi Moore, the organisation has today announced Ashton is resigning as Board Chair, “effective immediately”. The news comes in the wake of outrage over Ashton and Mila Kunis’ decision to write character references for convicted rapist, Danny Masterson.
“This decision is rooted in the recognition of recent events and ensuring Thorn remains focused on its mission: to build technology to defend children from sexual abuse,” the organisation writes on their website, also sharing a letter from Ashton to their board:
“September 14, 2023
After my wife and I spent several days of listening, personal reflection, learning, and conversations with survivors and the employees and leadership at Thorn, I have determined the responsible thing for me to do is resign as Chairman of the Board, effectively immediately. I cannot allow my error in judgment to distract from our efforts and the children we serve.
As you know, I have worked for 15 years to fight for people who are sexually exploited. Victims of sexual abuse have been historically silenced and the character statement I submitted is yet another painful instance of questioning victims who are brave enough to share their experiences. This is precisely what we have all worked to reverse over the last decade.
The mission must always be the priority and I want to offer my heartfelt apology to all victims of sexual violence and everyone at Thorn who I hurt by what I did. And to the broader advocacy community, I am deeply sorry. I remain proud of what we have accomplished in the past decade and will continue to support Thorn’s work. Thank you for your tireless advocacy and dedication to this cause.
The organisation continues their message, “We remain steadfast in our mission, mindful of the trust our community places in us, and confident in our collective dedication to continue the vital work ahead. Over the last 15 years, we’ve become a leader in the child safety ecosystem and made undeniable progress toward achieving our vision of a world where cutting-edge technology is proactively developed to defend children. To date, Thorn has helped the tech industry remove over 2 million potential child sexual abuse files from the open web, helping to end the cycle of abuse and stop re-victimisation. Every day, our tools help those on the frontlines identify victims and remove them from harm as quickly as possible. Thorn’s tools have led to the identification of more than 27,000 children and counting. We’ve empowered parents and youth with prevention tools and resources; influenced policy designed to protect children; and conducted and shared research to help the entire ecosystem better understand the issue and do their part to prevent child sexual abuse.”
Thorn board member Ernie Allen acknowledged Ashton for his participation in the organisation: “For the past decade I have worked with Ashton on child protection issues. He has been a strong champion for children and worked tirelessly to protect them from sexual abuse. Through the creation of the DNA Foundation that later became Thorn, he helped build the organisation into a major global resource for law enforcement, tech companies and others in the fight against child sexual exploitation. He made a difference.”
Fellow board member Suzanne Bell also shared a statement: “Ashton founded Thorn over a decade ago with one goal in mind: to protect children from sexual abuse and give them the childhood they deserve. His unwavering dedication and commitment to Thorn throughout its journey have enabled the organisation to become the leader that it is in the child safety ecosystem. It has been my privilege to join him on this mission.”
(Feature Image Credit: courtesy Thorn)