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Ben Affleck Groping Incidents Resurface as Rose McGowan Claims He Knew About Weinstein’s Behavior

Stuart C. Wilson, Getty Images
Stuart C. Wilson, Getty Images

It’s been quite a week. (It’s only Wednesday.) As numerous women have come forward with extensive allegations of sexual abuse and harassment suffered at the hands of Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein, many more celebrities have weighed in — some sharing their own Weinstein horror stories and near misses, while others have applauded the bravery of his victims for speaking out; all of them condemning the actions of Weinstein and men like him. Not long after Ben Affleck issued his statement on Weinstein’s deplorable behavior, the actor was hit with allegations of his own.

It started last night, after Affleck posted the following statement on his public Facebook page:

I am saddened and angry that a man who I worked with used his position of power to intimidate, sexually harass and manipulate many women over decades. The additional allegations of assault that 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 at protecting our sisters, friends, co-workers and daughters. We must support those who come forward, condemn this type of behavior when we see it and help ensure there are more women in positions of power.

Like some other male celebrities who have spoken out this week, Affleck uses terms like “sisters” and “daughters” — invoking the notion that a woman’s worth is defined not by her mere human existence, but by her intimate relationship with a man; it’s as if some men cannot perceive women as actual people unless they’re family members or close friends. But that wasn’t the only problematic part of his statement.

Rose McGowan was one of the actresses revealed to have received a settlement from Weinstein in a sexual assault case. The former Scream star has been righteously outspoken on social media in the wake of exposés published by The New Yorker and the New York Times. McGowan also co-starred with Affleck in Phantoms, the 1998 horror film produced by Weinstein, and it didn’t take long for her to respond to his statement with this allegation (preceded by a tweet that simply read, “Ben Affleck f— off”):

Per McGowan, Affleck has been well-aware of Weinstein’s repulsive behavior for decades. The Weinsteins produced a handful of Affleck’s films, including Good Will Hunting, for which Affleck won the Oscar for Best Screenplay alongside co-writer and star Matt Damon. (Damon also released a statement regarding the Weinstein allegations.) Affleck has not yet responded to McGowan’s accusation, but he did issue a public apology to another woman: Hilarie Burton.

Responding to another Twitter user, the actress and former TRL host confirmed that Affleck groped her on the set of the MTV show. Burton, who says she was “just a kid” at the time (per ONTD, she was 18), also shared a clip from TRL: Uncensored, in which she briefly recounted the incident as if it were a funny story.

“I had to laugh back then so I wouldn’t cry,” Burton says.

For his part, Affleck has apologized:

Footage of the actual groping incident was available on YouTube until today, when Viacom had the video removed for violating copyright. However, another video of Affleck’s inappropriate behavior with a woman still exists. As noted by Vulture, this video occasionally makes the rounds online, but it’s particularly notable in light of the incident with Burton and Affleck’s denouncement of Weinstein. Back in 2004, Affleck was interviewed by Montreal TV host Anne-Marie Losique. In the video, he has Losique sit on his lap, where he poorly imitates a French accent, repeatedly comments on her breasts and even suggests that Losique remove her shirt:

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It’s also of particular note given that Ben Affleck isn’t the only member of the family alleged to have sexually harassed or made unwanted contact with women. Allegations from Casey Affleck’s past resurfaced last fall as the younger Affleck was being touted for an Oscar for his role in Manchester by the Sea. (He won.)

Earlier this year, Ben Affleck revealed that he had successfully completed treatment for alcohol addiction. In a Facebook post, the actor, who has spoken publicly about his alcohol dependency since 1998, described the addiction as “something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront.”

Alcoholism does not excuse the actions of Affleck or any other man who sexually harasses or assaults women. These behaviors are evidence of disease that requires professional medical and psychological treatment; they’re also symptoms of a larger disease that’s plagued Hollywood — and our country — for decades. The allegations against Weinstein continue to pour in from actresses including Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, while many other women — both famous and not — share their own stories of abuse and harassment on social media.

Although these experiences and allegations are horrific, it appears that we may be on the verge of a cultural tipping point; exposing men like Weinstein and Affleck is just the beginning of genuinely addressing the patriarchal systems that have enabled and empowered men to abuse women without repercussion.

More Women Come Forward to Accuse Harvey Weinstein of Sexual Assault

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