They wanted leniency for their friend. On September 8, letters that Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis had written in support of Danny Masterson were made public after the That ’70s Show star, 47, was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for raping two women in the early 2000s.

In them, Ashton, 45, calls the actor a “role model” and says that Danny has “always treated people with decency, equality and generosity,” while Mila, 40, spoke to their former castmate’s “exceptional character” and “innate goodness.”

The backlash was swift. Following heavy criticism, the pair posted a video on Instagram the next day, explaining that the letters were a favor to Danny’s family. “They were intended for the judge to read and not to undermine the testimony of the victims or re-traumatize them in any way,” Ashton insisted. Mila added, “Our heart goes out to every single person who’s ever been a victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse or rape.” Fans weren’t buying it, though. The social media clip was dubbed “performative” and “insincere,” and some even wondered if the couple were only apologizing because the letters had gotten out.

“People can judge them all they want,” a source exclusively tells Life & Style. “But Ashton and Mila believe their hearts were in the right place.”