Actor Ben Affleck apologized on Wednesday for groping actress Hilarie Burton in 2003 during an episode of MTV’s “TRL.”
The Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal is slowly materializing into an avalanche, a pivotal moment that could lead to a mass uncovering of sexual abuses and cover-ups for high-profile figures.
Celebrities who knew Weinstein for several decades, many of whom got their start in movies he produced while head of Miramax, deny knowing that Harvey Weinstein allegedly ran a casting couch or engaged in lewd conduct toward unsuspecting women.
One such celebrity, longtime Weinstein associate Ben Affleck, has come under serious scrutiny for suggesting he wasn’t aware of the movie mogul’s behavior. After the controversy swelled to epic proportions, Ben Affleck said the news hit him like a deer caught in the headlights.
Affleck grabbed Burton’s left breast on camera but did not make a public apology until 14 years later—just as he is being caught up in the scandal surrounding Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. The Hollywood star said on Tuesday the revelations about Weinstein made him “saddened and angry,” but he subsequently faced criticism on Twitter for his past groping of Burton, prompting Burton herself to say she hasn’t forgot about the incident.
“I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize,” Affleck said in response on Twitter.
I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) October 11, 2017
His apology came after a Twitter user criticized his affair with his children’s nanny, leading another to mention the incident. The actor is now divorced from his former wife, actress Jennifer Garner, to whom he was married from 2005 to 2017.
The “TRL” segment in which Affleck touched Burton was included in a Fox News report:
“He wraps his arm around me and comes over and tweaks my left boob!” Burton said on the show. “Some girls like a good tweakage here and there. I’d rather have a high-five.”
Affleck can be seen putting his arm around Burton and she says he pulled “that move.”
Burton was a host of MTV’s “TRL,” and later gained notoriety portraying Peyton Sawyer on “One Tree Hill.”
Affleck has been facing sharp criticism for not speaking out about Weinstein until the New York Times released a report last week about his history of his sexual misconduct. Actress Rose McGowan has called Affleck a “liar” for saying he did not know about Weinstein’s conduct, which many in Hollywood have described as “an open secret.”
According to McGowan, Affleck said “I told him [Weinstein] to stop doing that,” when she told him about Weinstein assaulting her. She said to him on Twitter, “you lie,” and has been using social media to go after Affleck and his brother Casey.
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 10, 2017
Ben Affleck Casey Affleck, how’s your morning boys?
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 9, 2017
Casey Affleck came under scrutiny last year for two past cases of sexual harassment, which the actor settled out of court.
In his statement about Weinstein, Ben Affleck said, “We need to do better at protecting our sisters, friends, co-workers and daughters.”