It's safe to say Ben Affleck isn't having a good week. First, Rose McGowan said the Batman star knew about Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment years ago. Then a 2003 video surfaced of him groping One Tree Hill actress Hilarie Burton on MTV's "Total Request Live." And shortly after that a 2004 video circulated showing the father of three sexually harassing a TV interviewer while he was promoting the film Jersey Girl.
Watch the 2003 and 2004 videos below:
here's the video of Ben Affleck groping Hilarie Burton on TRL in the early 2000s pic.twitter.com/cVAjAswnjB
— Krystie Lee Yandoli (@KrystieLYandoli) October 11, 2017
This Ben Affleck groping allegation reminds me of his infamous creepy/handsy TV interview: pic.twitter.com/iBnrZtcX0O
— Marlow Stern (@MarlowNYC) October 11, 2017
Affleck has since issued an apology to Burton on his Twitter account, acknowleding that he did, in fact, grope her.
I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize
â€” Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) October 11, 2017
Unfortunately for Affleck, the tweet directly followed another tweet denouncing Harvey Weinstein's actions, saying "the additional allegations of assault I read this morning made me sick. This is completely unacceptable, and I find myself asking what I can do to make sure this doesn't happen to others. ... We need to do better protecting our sisters, friends, co-workers and daughters."
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) October 10, 2017
Before the Burton groping video surfaced, Rose McGowan — who was sexual harassed by Harvey Weinstein — tweeted that Affleck knew Weinstein sexually harassed her, and Affleck did nothing about it.
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 10, 2017
Nevertheless, the TV interviewer in question, Anne-Marie Losique, insists Affleck did nothing wrong.
“This was for the camera. You have to understand that we have done dozens and dozens of interviews like that. It was for a show I was producing, so I was not at all a victim. When the cameras rolled, we would start to do that game. As soon as it stopped rolling, there was none of that. He never touched me in any improper way. He was very respectful, I must say,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
“But in this case, it is more of a delicate issue because of everything that is happening. I can’t say I am thrilled to have that interview mixed in with the other stories because I don’t think that is at all the same thing.”
“It has been blown out of proportion. I know that people like fishing for anything, but this is completely out of context. I would like this to not have any negative impact on him. I find it sad.”
Matt Damon — Affleck's collaborator on Good Will Hunting — also had to defend himself after he was accused of helping kill a New York Times story in 2004 that detailed Weinstein's sexual harassment. The actor spoke with Deadline and said:
I did five or six movies with Harvey. I never saw this. I think a lot of actors have come out and said, everybody’s saying we all knew. That’s not true. This type of predation happens behind closed doors, and out of public view. If there was ever an event that I was at and Harvey was doing this kind of thing and I didn’t see it, then I am so deeply sorry, because I would have stopped it. And I will peel my eyes back now, father than I ever have, to look for this type of behavior. Because we know that it happens. I feel horrible for these women and it’s wonderful they have this incredible courage and are standing up now.
We can all feel this change that’s happening, which is necessary and overdue. Men are a huge part of that change, and we have to be vigilant and we have to help protect and call this stuff out because we have our sisters and our daughters and our mothers. This kind of stuff can’t happen. This morning, I just feel absolutely sick to my stomach.
— Sky Cinema (@SkyCinemaUK) March 2, 2014
In the last few days the floodgates have opened and women are coming out of the woodwork to tell their stories of harassment and abuse. Reporters are recalling how stories were stifled. And other celebrities are urging women to come forward with their own accounts.
At first, the Damon and Affleck reports felt like a sideline discussion that distracted from the main story: Harvey Weinstein. But increasingly the stifled stories and incessant coverups are starting to take center stage. There was so much money — and so many careers — at stake that countless celebrities and organizations did their part to protect Weinstein.
Ronan Farrow — Woody Allen's son and the reporter who wrote The New Yorker piece detailing three alleged rapes by Weinstein — claims that NBC was offered the story before The New Yorker and the peacock network chose to kill it. NBC executives have defended their actions by saying it wasn't researched enough and wasn't ready to air at that time. But Farrow told Rachel Maddow a different story on her program last night.
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) October 11, 2017
"I walked into the door at The New Yorker with an explosively reportable piece that should have been public earlier. And immediately, obviously, The New Yorker recognized that," Farrow told Maddow. "And it is not accurate to say that it was not reportable. In fact, there were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC."
This week, women have exposed a Hollywood culture where sexual harassment isn't only tolerated, it's protected. Would a 16-year-old actor starting out in the business be protected like this if he sexually harassed a female teenager? Maybe not. Power yields protection.
What do you think is the best way to combat sexual harassment? Let us know your take in the comments section below.